How does artificial intelligence change our society?
Artificial Intelligence: Watershed of Our Civilization
In contrast to most common beliefs, artificial intelligence is not a piece of quixotic technology that automatically turns the society into a utopian “Zootopia”. Of course, one does acknowledge that both are fathomless dreams but based on the idealism and optimism of transforming the imperfect society into an immaculate system with the ultimate purpose—-to deliver benefits to the society. However, with a more realistic conception kept in mind, we are able to adopt a more rational perspective when looking at changes artificial intelligence forebodes.
Synergistic revolution, the very process that transforms and distinguishes us from other beings, makes us “intelligent” and “unique”, however, as artificial intelligence has come into existence it is believed to endanger our hegemony in the food chain.
Concerns about the upcoming technical unemployment upsurge have once again becoming one of the major economic crisis of this era. Accompanied with the advancement of technology and artificial intelligence, the production practice (especially the manufacturing industry) has become more and more automated. Workers can be replaced by new and smarter machines—especially industrial robots—that can perform tasks previously performed by humans, however, more rapidly and efficiently. Therefore, one would assume robots will make millions of workers redundant, especially middle-quality workers, fundamentally reshaping society.
When overviewing artificial intelligence, the origin of formal reasoning can be traced back to antique ancient philosophers, and Alan Turning has revolutionized this to a new level through his theory of computation, through using “0” and “1”, any mathematical calculations can be performed via a computer. Through this insight, the age a formal reasoning performed by computers has begun.
The invention of self-learning initiated by artificial intelligence has brought revolution to technology. Previously, the computers had to be programmed to incorporate new information into the existing system. However, now machines are able to perform self-directed learning, most notably Alpha Go, that managed to defeat the professional top Weiqi players Ke Jie and Lee Sedo, in March 2016, a previously unimaginable feat. Through simple commands such as “1 if wins, 0 if otherwise” and “repeat the same process that received 1”, they are now able to improve and assimilate through each time they compete, that they can master 250 video games within a few hours. AI is “the capacity to solve problems, to plan, to perceive and to act. Intelligence is often associated with animals and humans, but we are trying to reproduce this capacity with machines by making robots move, enabling conversations between computers and humans, or having them play strategy games, etc.”
Machine learning, evolved only in recent years, incorporates the field of statistical analysis and algorithm, in which this system enables a machine to actively interpret the data, explore the patterns and regularities and make hypothesis and predictions. Almost similar to a living being, they have the ability to observe the world, understand, collect and aggregate information, update its model of the world, then plan, decide and take actions, and finally observe again. Through this process, the sheer power of computers enhances the potential of artificial intelligence and makes them progressively more intelligent and more efficient.
According to shapingtomorrow.com, the future impacts of AI can result in the following:
Virtual Private Network allows the integration of legitimate computer sources to provide a complete and consistent service to the user.
Cloud services will interpret aggregated datasets against patterns to anticipate tasks, activities, and events.
Developments in cloud services will transition computing from a physical experience to a virtual one available to any user via a simple device operating on ubiquitous networks with seamless connectivity.
Comparing Human with Weak Artificial Intelligence (Narrow AI)
AI performs significantly faster data collection and calculation, analyze and find patterns derived from statistics.
AI is not affected by negative emotion, high accuracy and little oscillation in productivity.
AI can better adapt to extreme physical conditions.
AI are not “alive”, do not fatigue, will not face ethical issue if “industrial injuries” occur.
Human has better “sensors”, the development of artificial sensors has not yet reached biological levels to be put into applications; the interconnection between sensation and perception is still immature.
The convenience and efficiency of understanding and communication between humans is still significantly higher than between human and AI communication.
Figures showing the trend of increasing number of robots in industries
The one of the most disturbing feature derived from the disputable nature of artificial intelligence is its potential to replace jobs. Alongside with its abilities exceeding human limits, both physically and mentally, it also possesses a threat to the employment structure in the society. Whitehouse claimed 47% of the American jobs would be displaced by machines by 2025, and that is an impending peril. It is estimated that 80-90% of the jobs in the primary and secondary employment sector will be displaced, meaning mass working class and farmers from farms and industries would face the difficulty to be reemployed. The World Economic Forum has published an article regarding the “Future of Professions”, in which estimated 500 million employments would be diminished, jobs occupied by blue collars such as public transportation drivers, workers, receptionists and accountants would be rapidly and eventually fully displaced by artificial intelligence, as their work is relatively repetitive and can be done significantly more efficiently by robots. Already Tesla has dismissed 300 thousand workers until 2016 due to the prevalent practice of machines in production streams. This inevitably prompt a tide of unprecedented impact to the employment market. A study done by Acemoglu & Restrepo(2016) that aims to investigate the alterations brought about by the AI, a systematic analysis of the overall balanced impact of robotics and other new technologies was conducted, the results demonstrate that their potential to replace employment is only limited, robots can directly replace workers when they hold constant output and prices, but the resulting cost reduction also increases product and labor demand. In addition, workers can be absorbed by different industries and specialize in new and complementary types of work.
The demand has progressed, both in speed and size. The consumers nowadays request more instantaneous response. According to research by Desk.com, more than 22% of millennials expect a response within 10 minutes of reaching out to a consumer brand; according to Gartner, nearly $2 billion “in online sales were performed exclusively through mobile digital assistants in 2016.” From this emerges the invention of chatbot, notably Amazon’s Alexa, that offers a 24/7 service to give immediate and pinpoint navigation to the users; IBM’s Watson converts the level of healthcare onto a unprecedented horizon, with the ability to treat unusual infantile diseases that requires precision of operation on a miniscule scale(such as kidney and liver diseases), by rapidly scanning through enormous collection of medical data, treatments history and diagnosis, Watson is capable concluding patterns and produce the best alternative for surgeons.
On the other hand, the foreseeable future of artificial intelligence is still relatively optimistic. We can never overestimate the potential of an impending technology. Back in the 1900s, two thirds of the world’s population still strive in the primary and secondary employment sector, agriculture and industry, 38% and 25% of the population respectively. However, in 2017, only 11% of the population is still “primitive”, only 2% for agriculture and 9% for industries. Does this symbolize the loss of jobs to more than half of the globe’s population? Most certainly not, in fact, we have eliminated jobs on a full scale a couple of times through the course of History, and yet our civilization is still thriving and flourishing.
Ford, or carriage? Surfaces to be one of the biggest challenge of the people at the start of the 19th century, the rapid production of Ford automobiles is generally concerned to be disturbing and replacing carriage drivers, however that slight apprehension does not interrupt the course of history, car production, reparation, maintenance and the peripheral products it brings about provide the unprecedented momentum that could never be possibly anticipated during the era of carriages.
The existence of artificial intelligence reduces inflation. It minimizes the cost of production through a more continuous production stream for companies and consequently reduces the price available for customers. With a more progressive, more efficient and almost non-demanding workforce, artificial intelligence maximizes and efficiency and productivity. They have no physical limits, and do not need salary nor nutrition, and their field can extend to deep oceans and Earth’s core, to unknown areas previously unreachable and unimaginable for humans.
On the macro perspective, the integration of artificial intelligence into the market is the symbol of the fourth revolution of science and technology, inevitably, it extrudes some of the workers from the from the front-line production stream thus out of the labour market. However, in the mean time the new model of production needs innovative supporting technologies and developments, and the remaining labor force will be compelled to advance in its ability to cooperate with artificial intelligence, so as not to be eliminated by the employment market, this establishes a systematic incentive effect. Moreover, in numerous areas where artificial intelligence is still at their infantile stages(such as multi-faceted analysis regarding complex human emotions and civil rights), incapable of replacing the current labour force, an unprecedented system of production shall emerge, in which AI would become supplements to provide machine based artificial coordination, an assistant that facilitates the efficiency of work through data analysis and draw trend and conclusion to pre-diagnose for the doctors, to evaluate business models, perform auxiliary roles. Prediction of the tendency of demand for customers would be made almost instantaneously. Artificial intelligence will predictably bring about diverse demands or expectations in business and consumption fields, reorganize various application scenarios, even change business ecology or life ecology, and bring about new employment opportunities.
According to iq.intel.com, Arable land and soil is diminishing fast, and yet the demand for nutrition is exponentially accumulating, by approximately 50%. “Enter FarmLogs, a farming management app currently used by one out of three farmers in America. FarmLogs uses data and technology to help farmers monitor fields, track the weather and get insights into soil using historical satellite imagery to calculate irregular plant growth.” By overviewing and analyzing the optimal temperature, soil variation and the correct volume of fertilizer to be used farmers can now produce 2.25 to 3 times more yield than before.
Population(billion) 7.3 9.7
Workforce(Percentage) 63 57
The populations in many MEDCs are rapidly declining, not only in numbers, but also more devastatingly in age. Approximately around 12,000 people are turning 65 every day in the upcoming 19 years. Elderly diseases and disabilities can now be pre-diagnosed with the assistance from artificial intelligence. Human bodies are so complex and intricate, often related to genetic inheritance and personal experiences, through investigation and analysis over a wider population and their personal hobbies artificial intelligence is capable to formulating more precise identification over the cause of their diseases and the most appropriate treatments. Ageing populations in Japan, Italy, Germany and future China, India have already brought dilemmas to the governments on how to manage the pension system and how to bolster the growth of their economy. With the exponential growth of a dependent population, artificial intelligence emerges to be the only alternative, that alleviates the social and economic pressure on the economically dependent, and replenish the lost workforce and vacant employments. This provides the government with more alternatives to redistribute the economy and reorganize the financial structure, hence diminishing inflation and maintain, if not improve, the standard and quality of life of the increasingly dependent and vulnerable population.
All things considered, the deployment of artificial intelligence should be a gradual flow, instead of an instantaneous press of a button, steadier installations of AI also offer time to postulate the possible negative consequences and outcomes. The distinctiveness and individuality humans derives from their ability to perform independent and insightful thinking and cognition; in addition to the complex process, management and archiving abilities of artificial intelligence would motivate the subjective initiative of us humans. In cases of judicial processes, while AI can provide us with a more objective and unbiased perspective of a particular instance, the right of judgement is still to be determined by humans, as the existence of law is a fluctuating red line, with ambiguous boundaries, that stipulates the moral standards of citizens and the social norms. This involves adaptation to the background, adaptations to the society’s value, and understanding the motives and emotions of the victims and the murderers, in these areas, humans are evolved to be more apt and suitable to be competent to perform such tasks.
As the precursor of the upcoming era, AI is not a contender but a proficient assistant (perhaps more competent than ourselves) to humans, AI benefit people, to operate more effortlessly at confidence management and basic browsing and retrieval, and to provide a sustainable solution for mankind. And human rely on AI to better stimulate the initiative to promote social, economic and life development. With its extraordinary pace of self-updating and evolving, copious occupations relating to AI will emerge, such as self-driving trainers, AI neuro-science.
The epoch of AI has emerged and meanwhile self-manifesting its prospective powers and abilities, are you ready to embrace the previously unconceivable changes shaped by artificial intelligence? Or are you that moaning and grumbling carriage driver?