Why Do People Fear Artificial Intelligence?

Friday, December 01, 2017

The whole world is talking about AI and how it will contribute to our society. Big companies are trying to benefit by reducing error-cost, countries are trying to build an AI arsenal to increase accuracy and to scare off their enemies. However, what is the consequence of having such an advanced technology? what is the backup plan if this technology turns out to be the worst thing ever invented? Well, first let’s understand AI better.

What is Artificial intelligence?

John McCarthy
The first time the world heard the word “Artificial intelligence” was in 1955 by John McCarthy and his colleagues Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, and Claude Shannon. They defined Artificial intelligence as:

“every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves“. 

In other words, it is the ability of a machine or computer to think and learn do something and be good at to some extent. Learn more here.

AI is an intelligent machine that is able to do a task in specific or many fields . But wait a minute, what is intelligence? How can we define the intelligence of a machine?


Jack Copeland, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and author of books on the computing pioneer Alan Turing, explains intelligence factors as follows:

1. Generalization learning
This enables the learner to take a better decision in new situations.

2- Reasoning
The ability to draw a conclusion to a certain situation.

3- Problem solving
The ability to find an appropriate solution for given data and variables.

4- Perception
The ability to find and analyze object features. Self-driving cars, SIRI, Google’s search algorithms and Face recognition are examples of AI.

Oops… Robots apocalypse?

Now, we understand the definition of AI and the word intelligence, but the question remains, why do people fear AI if it’s invented to help them enhance the performance by minimizing human-errors and maximizing productivity?

The common known answer to this question is that robots could take over the world or AI machines may consider human as a threat. Why do we always assume the worst? Or what made us think that AI machines could be evil from the first place?

Human always fear the unknown. fear can make us jump to hasty conclusions. As a result, we assume that those machines will turn to be against us one day so we must stop them. But how did we come up with this conclusion? Well, fear is an important element of human emotions including love, hate, happiness, etc. Moreover, emotions are an important element of human consciousness. Consciousness is the awareness or the perception of something.

Researchers still struggle to locate consciousness or how it’s developed. This means that AI machines are lacking emotions that enables them to feel like humans. Most researchers pointed out that AI machines are unlikely to show any human consciousness as there’s no reason to.

Then… how can AI be dangerous?

Experts assume that AI can be a risk if:
  1. AI is programmed to help us in doing tasks that human face difficulty to do so. However, AI might learn to accomplish the goal regardless the method, this happens whenever we fail to control the usage of destructive methods, for example, your wife wakes you up in the middle of the night having labor so you ask your intelligent car to take you to hospital as fast as possible, it might get you there chased by police for running red lights and speeding, doing not what you wanted but literally what you asked for.
  2. Autonomous weapons are intelligent machines programmed to terminate enemies. However, AI arms race could lead to a massive AI war. Moreover, it is worse when those super AI weapons fall into the hands of the wrong people, which could easily cause mass destruction. for more information about this you can visit future of life article here.

Final thoughts

Will AI machines be inevitable by 2080?
The answer is we have no idea, it may or may not happen, it may take decades to make it at least safe.

Is AI turning evil?
Highly unlikely, as long as we control AI goals to meet our expectations

Will AI control humans?
Intelligence is power, as long as we thrive for knowledge we get smarter. at the end of the day, the smartest stays.

An interesting article by ZDnet mentions a survey by Tech Pro Research to find out how AI will impact the future of IT. 34% out of of 534 respondents admitted that they fear AI, that is about 181 people!

Tech Pro Research result

When people were asked whether they thought of AI would make a good use in many fields such as business, 63% felt it would be helpful. For more information about this, you can visit ZDnet.

By Habboush | December 01, 2017

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