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AI is everywhere already – but don’t panic

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Internet Communications Technology expert Arthur Goldstuck, whose latest book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AI was recently launched, says there’s no reason to panic about artificial intelligence (AI) because we’re already interacting with it all the time.

In conversation about AI with Steven Boykey Sidley, the award-winning author, AI expert, and professor, Goldstuck said, “Every single one of you is using AI, not just actively, but almost aggressively because you’re using some of the most powerful AI tools we have ever seen, like spellcheck and Google Maps, but you don’t see it as AI.”

The two were having a public conversation at the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre on 14 April.

“I believe we’re going to see something similar to what we saw with the internet in coming years,” said Goldstuck, a renowned information and communications technology expert and analyst. “Internet access is taken for granted. Internet use is almost critical for us to function in society. But when we use the tools that the internet makes possible, we’re not conscious of the fact that we’re using the internet.

“AI is already part of the fabric of everything you do. And you haven’t been panicking about that because you’ve experienced the utility of AI. You haven’t seen it as the utility of AI, but you’ve been experiencing it all along.

“I believe AI will disappear into the fabric of everything we do,” he said.

Sidley agreed, saying, however, that “AI is the only technology we’ve ever developed that learns. If you take all the great technologies of history, you can start with fire, the wheel, the printing press, electricity, TV, radio, global positioning systems, personal computers, transistors, and smartphones, none of them knows how to learn. AI is the first. We don’t understand what that means,” Sidley said.

Goldstuck went on to tell Sidley how his journey into the world of AI started in 2017, when he attended a conference in Las Vegas at which the then-chief executive of Amazon web services, Andy Jassy, unveiled no less than 22 new AI tools, features, and platforms that would run on the Amazon cloud.

“Five of those were, to me, utterly transformative,” said Goldstuck. “It left the audience gasping. And it all sounded like science fiction. I knew that within five years, it would seem mainstream. Five years to the day, ChatGPT was launched.”

AI learns at an exponential rate, and consequently “humans in the field of psychology have a terrible time understanding AI”, according to Sidley.

Because of this, he believes, there are two main fields of understanding the future when it comes to AI: those who see a utopia because of this technology; and those who see a dystopian future.

“Utopia is an end to disease, an end to hunger, an end to hard labour. Even possibly an end to death. The others see this as the end of our privacy as a species, and even the end of us completely,” said Sidley.

On the utopian side of AI, Sidley said, it could be used to analyse degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. “Sometimes, the proteins which make up our DNA, which are three-dimensional molecules of great complexity, fold incorrectly, and when that happens, you get Parkinson’s disease, you get Huntington’s disease, and a whole host of other horrendous, painful, and life-changing conditions,” he said. “The only way to address those incorrectly protein-folded conditions is to understand how that protein goes from 2D into 3D.”

“That difference between our best old-style human approach to pharmacology or biochemistry or medical chemistry is far behind the magnitude of AI,” he said.

Goldstuck said his favourite encounter with AI development was when he visited the Oracle campus in Reading, England. The campus connected two beehives to an “internet of things” powered by AI. The “internet of things” was able to measure the climate, the weight of the bees, the weight of the queen, and track the buzzing of the bees,” he recalled.

“The researchers combine what they gathered with a global database of knowledge of the flight patterns of bees and what they represent, and then combine all of that in the cloud. They aggregate that information. And in the cloud, they are running it through AI systems, combining all that knowledge. The multiple sources of information are combined with what’s being collected from those specific beehives. What they’ve been able to do with all that information is to interpret the language of bees,” Goldstuck said.

“The lesson of that case study is that if we can interpret the language of bees, we can certainly interpret the language of cats and dogs. And I believe that, in the future, is going to be a massive commercial opportunity, selling pet owners tools that will enable them to understand the language of their pets.”

This idea can also be extrapolated to those who are in a coma. With this technology, loved ones could talk to their loved ones who cannot communicate verbally, Goldstuck said.

On the other hand, said Sidley, American computer scientist and researcher, Eliezer Yudkowsky, has argued since the early 2000s that AI can destroy humanity and that developers of AI programmes should stop.

However, that panic is pointless now, Goldstuck said. “if you were going to panic, you should have panicked already.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jessica

    Apr 23, 2024 at 11:03 am

    Think again. An AI is just a machine – a highly complex machine, but one that nonetheless depends on the info and “knowledge” fed into it, in order to come up with its own “thoughts & ideas”. Google (read: Goebble) itself is an AI, and the world recently had the privilege of witnessing one of its “ideas” of history. Only ruthless ideologues such as the CRT-brainwashed and West-hating SJWs programming this so-called “search engine” would like to see it “disappear into the fabric of everything we do”.

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