Artificial intelligence could rob us of our humanity

From basic communication tools to space exploration, the strides made yearly in science and technology are absolutely astounding to say the least. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments, societies around the world must now come to terms with its implications in the long run.

AI is a double-edged sword; it poses great benefits, but also big threats to the human condition in various ways.

Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology have developed a robot known as iCub, an humanoid robot with movable limbs, a cognitive infrastructure and facial expressions to boot. The thought of having something so close to an actual person may seem progressive at first, however, I’m personally terrified of such a development. Even watching a video of the iCub’s facial expressions creeped me out.

It could be argued that this kind of AI means that humans can hopefully be relieved of the dirt, danger, and monotonies of life. However, this has the potential to create a very empty and sterile world.

Think about those who do not have the privilege to ignore said dirt, danger, and monotony too; they will be gravely disadvantaged. Being human is about more than being efficient, but unfortunately we continuously make this the benchmark for a worthwhile life.

Researchers in the UK have developed these robots to “learn” from one another and work autonomously. This makes me wary. The abilities machines are endowed with may become the very reason they disadvantage us in the future. It only takes one bad idea to be passed on from one robot to the next, and the next thing you know we have a scene from The Terminator.

It only takes one bad idea to be passed on from one robot to the next and we have a scene from The Terminator.

There is something to be said whenever we fervently seek to humanize machines. Isn’t it already bad enough that smartphones reduce human interaction to the extent that they do? To overdevelop machines feeds into an anti-social agenda that we may not be able to fully grasp in the short run. We must draw the line somewhere.

Having moved from a developing country to Canada, where technology is the center of numerous daily functions, I can say from experience that life often becomes too mechanical for my liking. On numerous occasions I have gone days without talking to anyone because, quite simply, I didn’t have to. For each of my daily tasks there is an app, machine, or scanner.

This can be socially damaging, especially as it is not easy to understand the differences in carrying out daily tasks if one is accustomed to relying on technology for everything.

It may sound as if I am tech-shaming developed nations, but the issue is bigger than that. Technology inarguably enhances various aspects of life, like accuracy and reduced time wastage.

However, take a moment to think about what it means for society to perpetually try to save time. Life becomes a race to fill up as much of that time as possible, rather than to holistically experience it.

Despite the will to advance pushing us to new heights, a level of moderation should be practiced in order to maintain our sanity as a species. Artificial Intelligence could potentially relieve us of everything that makes us human.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Have any of these AI algorithms passed the Turing test? No. We aren’t even close yet to real AI. It’s likely going to take huge advances in quantum computers, or something not yet even known, before AI can be realized. We’ll all be dead before time travelling killing machines end humanity as we know it, so cheer up!