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Potential Benefits, Risks of Artificial Intelligence. - Gale

Author: Knowledge Bylanes

"Potential Benefits, Risks of Artificial Intelligence." This Day, 9 Mar. 2023, p. NA. Gale OneFile: News, Accessed 16 Mar. 2023.

Artificial Intelligence or AI, is an evolving technology that has its benefits and risk factors that require better understanding in ensuring that its potentials align with human values and promote the well-being of all individuals, writes Emma Okonji

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, it is expected to have a significant impact on how people live and work. The integration of AI is a complex issue that requires a thorough understanding of the potential benefits and risks of the emerging technology.

Experts have always believed that Artificial Intelligence is a promethean technology that could be used for good or evil. They are of the view that while the globe welcomes its positive uses, the negative impacts could be too deleterious for humanity to control or endure, and they have stressed the need for international treaties and controls to be put in place to regulate the technology. With the arrival of ChatGPT and the promise of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and possibly Artificial Super Intelligent (ASI) systems, they are even more convinced that some internationally agreed sets of controls and laws guiding the behaviour of such systems, and hardwired into the AI systems, should be implemented as soon as possible.

The Chairman, Digital Africa Global Consult Limited, an alumnus of Harvard Business School, Dr. Evens Woherem, who also holds these views, told THISDAY that he started studying Artificial Intelligence in 1983 when he enrolled in the Master's degree program in Cognition, Computing, and Psychology at the University of Warwick in England. He said the course was all about AI - how to build AI systems by studying humans to determine what makes them intelligent and then applying that knowledge to develop intelligence-based systems.

'Since then, I have been keeping track of the development of artificial intelligence and its uses in various industries. The knowledge and understanding of what makes humans intelligent have been applied to the development of AI systems capable of performing tasks previously thought to be unique to human intelligence. It is crucial to consider any possible disadvantages of these intelligence-based systems as we continue to push the limits of AI. That is why it is significant to develop internationally agreed-upon sets of controls and laws to govern the development and use of AI or intelligence-based systems,' Woherem said.

The AI Intelligentsia

The motivations of the AI intelligentsia, consisting of researchers, engineers and scientists who work in the field of AI, include scientific curiosity, technical challenges, commercial opportunities, social impact, national security, and ethical considerations. They are thus playing a significant role in shaping the future of humanity by advancing AI technology and developing Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) systems that have the potential to revolutionize many aspects of daily life for people.

According to Woherem, the AI intelligentsia is taking humanity to a new epoch - to an age of intelligent-based systems who will co-exist with humans at home, at work places and at social environments, or who can eventually rule over humans. It is a new dawn, a brave new world that is about to be revealed, as the world redefines the origins and nature of sapiens, taking us to a new stage of human evolution.

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) refers to systems that have achieved singularity with humans and as such can comprehend or learn any complex tasks that humans can. AGI systems would be able to carry out a variety of tasks like problem-solving, making decisions, and learning even without being explicitly programmed. Most AI systems in use today fall into the category of weak or limited AI due to their focus on narrow task domains.

The advancement of AGI has ethical and societal implications, as it may alter our interactions with technology and our understanding of intelligence, Woherem said.

He called on AI researchers and developers to think about the moral and societal implications of their work and develop AI systems that are open, auditable, accountable, and consistent with human values. 'Furthermore, society as a whole must engage in informed discussions about the future of AI and its potential impacts on our lives. This includes involving stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, such as ethicists, philosophers, sociologists, policymakers, and members of the public, in the development and governance of AI systems. Additionally, there should be ongoing efforts to ensure that AI systems are developed and used responsibly and ethically, with measures in place to prevent unintended consequences and negative impacts on society, 'Woherem added.

Implications of AI

Speaking about the implications of AI to humans, Woherem said humans have been attempting to increase the forms, types, places, and reach of communication, resulting in the emergence of many forms of communication, including written language, oral language, sign language, and more recently, digital communication. Citing an example, he said through the use of books, letters, and other written documents, written language has made it possible for humans to communicate over great distances and long periods.

According to him, most machines developed during the agrarian, industrial, and post-industrial eras have ended up deskilling and displacing humans from their traditional vocations, whether in crafts, blue-collar, or clerical work. He however said they have also increased production and opened up new areas of labour for individuals who were displaced.

'As a result, there have been more employment increases than job losses overall. Many of stakeholders believe that this will always be the case, even for artificial intelligence systems. However, AI can replace not only monotonous administrative and physical tasks, but also virtually every other job, including those of artists, programmers, teachers, doctors, researchers, lawyers, accountants, and managers-indeed, everyone's work. Managers have believed that having 1,000 employees will cause 1,000 headaches for them since the beginning of time. So, they will employ whatever machines or methods that allow them to eliminate numerous workers,' Woherem said.

He stressed that the impact of AI on the workforce would likely be more complex than simply replacing jobs. 'AI has the potential to improve human capabilities, produce more work, and create new jobs. Additionally, the rate at which AI will impact different industries and job types will vary, and some jobs may be more resilient to automation than others. It is also important to consider the ethical and societal implications of AI and its impact on the workforce. For example, there may be concerns about income inequality and the displacement of certain groups of workers. It is crucial for policymakers and industry leaders to carefully consider these issues and develop strategies to mitigate negative impacts while harnessing the potential benefits of AI. Moreover, there is a need to think about retraining programs, education and upskilling of the workforce, and to ensure that the benefits of AI are shared equitably across society,' he added.

Ethical Implications of AGI

According to Woherem, it is important to consider the ethical and moral concerns that arise from the development of AGI with a human-like brain, including the entity's rights and obligations, and society's treatment of it.

He cited Isaac Asimov, a science fiction author and biochemist, as one of the first to explore these ethical issues in his famous 'Three Laws of Robotics' in which he proposed guidelines for the safe and ethical use of robots and AI.

'These laws include the prohibition on robots harming humans, the requirement for robots to obey human orders, and the obligation of robots to protect their existence as long as it does not contradict the first two laws. Asimov's laws provide a useful framework for considering the ethical implications of AGI, and his work continues to be relevant today as the world grapples with the ethical challenges posed by the development of AGI.

'It is important for researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders to carefully consider these ethical implications as AGI technology continues to advance and to ensure that AGI systems are developed with a clear understanding of their limitations and potential risks. Therefore, it is important for researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders to carefully consider these ethical implications as AGI technology continues to advance and to ensure that AGI systems are developed with a clear understanding of their limitations and potential risks, 'Woherem said.

Societal Implications

With the advent of technology like ChatGPT, which allows for easy access to information and the ability to ask questions, it is becoming increasingly possible for individuals to access and share knowledge on a global scale.

The world is now aware of what GPT-3 is capable of doing. Imagine what happens when it's upgraded to GPT-4 and then GPT-10. Technology experts have said that GPT-4, once completed, would be 500 times more competent than GPT-3. Today, students may use ChatGPT to produce essays, term papers, and even theses. Professors have started utilising GPT to edit the chapters they have written and even to help with book chapter composition. Every organisation can now use GPT to accomplish practically everything, potentially reducing the need for human personnel.

Africa, AI, and Other Techs

Woherem and other technology experts are worried that Africa is just deafening silence on all of the promethean-level technologies in Africa, raising the question why Africa continues to adopt a 'follow-follow' mentality to technology evolution.

Woherem stressed the need for Africa to also be a part of these conversations and developments in technology, as it will ultimately affect the continent just as much as any other region.

He said Africa should not be left behind in the shaping of the future, and should actively participate in the rethinking of the world and our existence.

'It is also important to consider the potential consequences and ethical implications of these technologies and to have a diverse range of perspectives and voices involved in the decision-making process. Furthermore, Africa should also take into account its values and beliefs, and ensure that they are not being overlooked or disregarded in the pursuit of technological advancement, 'he added.

Regulation of AI

According to Woherem, several guidelines have been proposed for the development and deployment of AI systems, including explainability and transparency, fairness and non-discrimination, human oversight, safety and robustness, privacy and security, continuous monitoring and improvement, accountability, human rights, societal and environmental well-being and human-centred values.

These guidelines, he stated, aim to ensure the safe and responsible use of AI, but there is no one regulatory body overseeing their implementation.

'There are currently a limited number of laws and regulations specifically governing the use of AI, but as the technology continues to advance and its impact on society becomes more significant, more laws and regulations are likely to be developed. Some examples of existing laws and regulations that govern the use of AI in specific industries or applications include: Health Care, Finance, Autonomous Vehicles and Employment,' Woherem said.

In the area of employment, he said many countries have laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace, which could apply to AI systems used in the hiring process or the management of employees.

These, he added, were just a few examples, stressing that regulations may vary from country to country, and that it is important to keep in mind that laws and regulations are always changing as technology advances and society's understanding of it evolves.

He further said as Artificial Intelligence continued to evolve, it would be expected to have a significant impact on how people live and work.

'Many people look at the development of AI with a positive outlook, I share that sentiment but also with concerns. I believe that it is like opening a box of unknown consequences that humanity will regret. I am worried that there are no worldwide regulations and control systems in place to govern the design, development, and application of AI. Without these, we can't ensure that AI will be safe for humanity. Moreover, I do not see any significant efforts being put into implementing Asimov's laws of robotics, which could be used to ensure safety features are built into AI systems, Woherem said

He added that ethical implications of AI must be taken into account by society, and its creation and application must be consistent with human values, and may involve creating regulations and guidelines for the use of AI, as well as investing in retraining programs to assist individuals whose jobs are at risk of being replaced by AI.

He insisted that the integration of AI remained a complex issue that requires a thorough understanding of the potential benefits and risks of the technology, while calling on the society to have open and honest conversations about the implications of AI and to collaborate to ensure that its development and use align with human values and promote the well-being of all individuals.

DMU Timestamp: March 11, 2023 09:24

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