This special issue of Humanist Perspectives Magazine will delve into the complex topic of Artificial intelligence which has seen an exponential growth in coverage.

This special issue of Humanist Perspectives Magazine will delve into the complex topic of Artificial intelligence which has seen an exponential growth in coverage.

This special issue of Humanist Perspectives Magazine will delve into the complex topic of Artificial intelligence which has seen an exponential growth in coverage. 

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems has become a popular and controversial topic with the introduction of tools like ChatGPT. AI was already in use prior to this surge in popularity, in industries like art, graphic design and movie making. However, many very knowledgeable people say this is the honeymoon period for AI and it will eventually lead to the end of human civilization.

The articles in this issue of Humanist Perspectives will explain AI and provide insight on whether it will enhance our lives or threaten our very existence. Many of the articles are written by professionals working to steer AI in a positive direction. These articles are essential reading for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of this intriguing phenomenon that has garnered so much recent public attention. 

The potential benefits of AI are astounding. It has the promise of transforming manufacturing and industry to be more efficient, creative and productive. AI analysis will assist healthcare professionals by diagnosing disease more quickly and accurately. Education can be revolutionized with AI driven tutoring systems. The various possible applications of AI offer the promise of improving the overall quality of our lives.  However, there are potential pitfalls that must be circumvented.

Stephen Hawking once said… “One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

Recently, more than a thousand technology researchers and leaders, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have urged intelligence labs to pause the development of advanced AI systems. The letter states that AI tools present “profound risks to society and humanity.”

Elon Musk wrote in a tweet… “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. Increasingly, scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

Let’s have a look at some of the foreseeable consequences of AI that are causing so much apprehension and concern. In an article in Forbes Magazine, Bernard Marr identifies five key challenges. These are jobs displacement, economic inequality, military use, disinformation and manipulation of belief.

AI-driven automation has the potential to lead to job losses across various industries. Will AI really take jobs from people? As the technologies continue to develop and become more efficient, the workforce must adapt and acquire new skills to remain relevant. This is especially true for lower-skilled workers in the current labor force.

AI has the potential to contribute to economic inequality by disproportionally benefiting wealthy individuals and corporations. As mentioned, job losses due to AI-driven automation are more likely to affect low-skilled workers, leading to a growing income gap and reduced opportunities.

Another consequence is that AI will change how wars are fought. Sending robots to fight wars instead of humans is a foreseeable outcome that could save lives. On the other hand, the risk of countries engaging in an AI arms race could lead to the rapid development of military technologies with mass destruction capabilities.

As well, AI technology can be used by criminals, rogue states, ideological extremists, or simply special interest groups, to manipulate people for economic gain or political advantage with disinformation.

Humans currently use their critical reasoning skills to determine what they should believe and not believe. This will be very difficult to discern with AI-generated content such as deepfake videos and online bots spreading fake news and contributing to the spread of false information while manipulating opinion. How will people know what to believe? Finding a way to detect and combat AI-generated misinformation is critical in preserving the integrity of information.

The most serious threat to humanity would be that AI computers would develop the ability to greatly surpass the ability of the human brain and take control over the world. This is another good reason to continue the development of AI with extreme caution.

In conclusion, AI can be of great benefit to humanity if used with good intent and foresight. While AI has the potential for tremendous benefits, including advancements in art, design, and various industries, it also raises important ethical, social, and safety concerns that require thoughtful consideration, regulation, and responsible development to maximize its positive impacts while minimizing risks. The future of AI will depend on how society navigates these complex challenges.