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Artificial Intelligence:
Opportunities & Threats

Half a century ago, most people would have refused to believe that we would have cars that are capable of driving themselves, machines and robots fighting on the battlefield, or for that matter Amazon’s Alexa as an intelligent voice-controlled assistant in our homes. Yet, all of this has become possible.

If there are two words that summarize the epitome of advanced technology, then they indisputably are – Artificial Intelligence. Within the last 50 years, Artificial Intelligence has grown at an exponential rate. This is something to be proud of for the human race which is leaving no stone unturned to realize the greatest potential in technology. However, at the same time, Artificial Intelligence raises some pertinent issues which may cause more harm than good. Before we discuss some of these issues, let us first understand what exactly Artificial Intelligence is.

John McCarthy, who coined the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’, defines it as a branch of computer science that aims to create intelligent machines and computer programs.

The core problems of artificial intelligence include programming computers for certain traits such as:

  • Knowledge
  • Reasoning
  • Problem solving
  • Perception
  • Learning
  • Planning
  • Ability to manipulate and move objects

Recently, tech giants like Facebook and Google have created their own AI labs to produce robots capable of learning to play video games without any instructions. No other point in history has seen this much engagement in the development of artificial intelligence.

The major cause of AI development is Big data. As the name suggests, in layman’s terms, it refers to a lot of data; the data which has never existed before. In 2012, IBM estimated that an average human being leaves around 500MB of digital data on the internet every day. If we plan to back up one day of data that humanity produces and we print it out on an A4 size sheet with the font size 12 and stack it up from the surface of Earth then it will reach the Sun and back four times over.

Remember the FIFA World Cup of 2014? Germany had some really amazing victories against legendary teams. The German team’s coach Hansi Flick said that he had spent the past two years analyzing the opponent’s every move. He had done more research ahead of their matches than perhaps any team in the history of soccer using Big Data to devise a strategy on the basis of it for his team.

That amount of Big Data is a source of learning for AI as the experience of an AI machine depends on the amount of data.


Since AI equips machines to perform such complex issues, it is natural to feel worried that it may overtake humans for the performance of most jobs. It is a well-known fact that industrial robots have already taken most of the jobs in manufacturing plants. Obviously, in near future more advanced industrial robots will occupy even more jobs. But what is threatening is that robots might not just take up menial jobs such as that of a worker in a factory, but also intellectual jobs, like assistants, secretaries, managers, or even some accountants.

Any exhausting, dangerous or repetitive task might eventually be performed by robots. It’s estimated that between 35 and 50 percent of jobs in existence today are at risk of being lost to automation in the next 20 years. Repetitive blue-collar jobs might be first, but in time everybody will be at risk.

So, if Artificial Intelligence is inevitable, then how should the policymakers deal with the unemployment that it is expected to cause? If machines would perform everything and people do not get jobs to earn money, then how would they sustain themselves? One of the solutions which some economists suggest is Universal income. Everyone on this planet shall be given a fixed amount of money for sustenance irrespective of any work done by them. However, this creates more problems than it solves. What about all the free time? What about the feeling that you’re useful for society and helping other people? What about the purpose of your life?

Despite all this, we need to acknowledge that AI has proved to be immensely useful to us in various ways –

  • Agriculture:
    AI monitors weather and informs about the field, crops, the health of the plant, etc. Drones help to scan the area, help to find any human errors, and inform about future problems.
  • Industries:
    Industries prefer robots because of fast, efficient, and cheap work. Moreover, there are some jobs that are dangerous for humans, whereas, for robots, there is no risk of life.
  • Hospitals:
    AI has proved to be a blessing for hospitals and medicines. AI is used for taking various clinical decisions and spotting any issues in the human body through highly digitalized machines and producing medicines for diseases such as cancer.

In my opinion, whether you see Artificial Intelligence as a boon or a curse, the fact is that it will continue to grow as tech giants continue to invest more into research and development. There is no doubt that AI will replace most of the mechanical jobs in the world today. However, it will also create jobs that require complex decision-making. The key is to adapt according to the changing times. Our society should adapt in a way so people would be educated in areas inaccessible to AI due to the inherent limitations of technology.

However, there is certainly a dire need to pay attention to the boundaries which need to be drawn around AI. Otherwise, it would not take long for AI-empowered, deadly machines to wipe off human beings from the earth through catastrophic attacks.

By Akash Agarwal

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