Artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. AI will one day develop emotions and mannerisms indistinguishable from those of humans. Artificial intelligence knows everything. We've heard it all before. Today, we're breaking down some of the most common cliches about artificial intelligence. Let's discuss what they are and why they're harmful.
Artificial intelligence will take over the world someday.
No conversation on the past, present, or future of artificial intelligence is complete without addressing the fear that AI will one day supersede the human race. Countless sci-fi authors to film directors have taken those fears and ran with them.
To give credit where it's due, the whole "AI takeover" trope has produced its fair share of bestsellers and blockbusters. But do those stories have any basis in reality? Yes and no, according to some of the most popular books about artificial intelligence. Some of the brightest computer scientists working at MIT and Oxford address worries of an AI takeover.
But they also take a realistic, balanced view. As we'll see in our discussion of the next artificial intelligence cliche, it's highly unlikely we'll ever create a superintelligent being whose "brain" works like ours.
AI has emotions.
Does AI have emotions? It's a common question. And attempting to answer it is a lost cause. The best we can do is look toward human emotional capacity.
Humans developed emotions as a result of evolution. Thousands of years ago, when prehistoric humans still wandered the Earth in nomadic tribes, emotions helped us survive. Fear allowed our ancestors to identify danger and seek safety. This is an incredibly broad overview of a complex process that took thousands of years to shape humanity in the 21st century.
Of course, we already know that artificial intelligence has the capacity to learn on its own. What took us thousands of years to achieve through evolution might take mere months for AI.
But there's just one key difference: machines can't experience evolution in biological terms.
Also, we don't even fully understand our own minds yet. The inner workings of consciousness are still a total mystery to the world's leading neuroscientists. We don't know why we sleep or what our dreams mean.
So if we're not entirely sure how our own brains work, how could we possibly hope to replicate it in artificially intelligent machines?
We could spend all day debating over the usefulness and possibilities of emotion in artificial intelligence. But we have a few other artificial intelligence cliches to cover. If you're interested in learning more, check out this insightful article on AI and emotion by BitBrain.
Artificial intelligence hates humans or wants to be like humans.
Simply put, this artificial intelligence cliche is the very definition of vanity.
If AI doesn't have emotions, we can assume it doesn't have any desires. And even if artificially intelligent machines could have desires, who's to say they'd want to be like us anyway?
Assuming that AI — even if it were capable of true human-like thought — would want to be like humans begs the question, "Why?"
What about us is so enviable? Our dominance of the world? Our capacity for creativity?
To make any useful progress in developing artificially intelligent systems that will solve problems, we must set our ego aside.
AI will eventually evolve into humanoid cyborgs.
Pop culture paints all artificially intelligent machines with the same brush. Fears about the rise of AI are pretty much all the same. Soon, humanoid cyborgs will walk among us, and we won't be able to tell the difference between them and humans.
While that's not entirely impossible, it's important to remember that AI encompasses a wide range of technology with a diverse set of uses.
For example, ever used a digital personal assistant like Google Home? You're using AI.
Ever unlocked your phone with Face ID? Yep, that's AI.
Ever sent a message to a chatbot? Well, that one's pretty obvious.
We're already interacting with AI every day without a second thought. And it's pretty silly to think that chatbots will one day evolve into synthetic humans. Their algorithms are as different as apples and oranges.
Artificial intelligence is all-knowing.
This artificial intelligence cliche is somewhat more understandable. AI is a whiz at storing, retrieving, and analyzing vast amounts of data in seconds.
But that doesn't mean it is or ever will be all-knowing.
Let's pretend for a minute that AI was all-knowing. That doesn't imply what, if anything, artificially intelligent machines would do with that knowledge.
Hollywood might have you believe superintelligent machines would use that knowledge obliterate the human race. But if artificially intelligent machines don't have desires or egos, what purpose would that serve them?
Cliches about artificial intelligence: wrapping up
It's only natural for us to speculate, make predictions, look ahead. Fretting over the future is part of our nature. And when it comes to developing artificial intelligence, foresight is important.
But buying in to cliches and "what ifs" isn't productive. We'd be much better off pouring our energy into creating a society that allows for peaceful coexistence alongside superintelligent "life" forms. That requires transparency from governments and developers. According to MIT professor Max Tegmark, we need more AI experts working with governments to steer progress in the right direction.