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AI goes to school

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Scientific knowledge is not required to recognize love in someone’s eyes. And then, you only have to lower the guards to start the fireworks. Love stories work on magic, but not Technology!

Just imagine the fireworks if nuclear technology was implemented like a love story! Thankfully, there was enough understanding of atoms and chain reactions before the actual application started. The design engineers were able to predict and control the outcome of each reaction before they could create and leash the monster called atomic energy.

With Artificial Intelligence, the ongoing story is all l’amour romantique! There is so much faith in the magical powers of AI and how it will lead to utopia, once it arrives. As if some consultant has looked deep into the eyes of a robot and has seen their wonderful future together. Hype rules!

However, in real life applications, we have just started with baby steps – simple uses like video games, RPA, recommendation engines, medical diagnostics, etc. And some journalists playing with cute robot toys having human names. That’s it! Mostly software running with speed on larger data sets in well-defined scenarios.

The algorithms have just started their schooling!

The results in some cases are surely amazing, even with these baby steps. Such is the power of AI.

So, what about the grand visions, can AI be the panacea for all physical problems on the planet? Can it make human race disease free? Can it replace human beings for all labour-intensive jobs? Would AI lead humanity towards utopia?

Can all this happen in 20-30 years?

Yes and No!

As of now we just do not have enough scientific knowledge to create intelligent machines.

While the R&D effort put in by the large corporations is helping, it is mostly focused on narrow AI technology, which is designed for quick implementation, small gains and ROI.

A technology will grow only to the extent that the science behind and around it is understood. Sometimes this covers a wide range of subjects, as in the case of AI. We should stop defining AI as a field of Computer Science only.

We need more buzz around theoretical subjects like Probability, Statistics, Algorithms, Logic, Linguistics, Design concepts, Material sciences, Cognitive science, Control theory, Quantum theory, etc.

This needs to be combined with further acceleration in technology areas like computing, embedded software, communications technology, robotics, powering sensors-actuators, security, big data management, etc.

And, if we need to take AI safely beyond a point, we must understand the nature of intelligence, the mathematics of creativity, the boundaries of free will and the psychology of self-awareness. At least understand them enough to safely and controllably impart some of these powers to an intelligent machine.

To put it simply, we will have to become Intellectual Gods to be able to create intelligent Machines.

And I hope and pray that some of us do not turn out to become angry mean Gods with unlimited power in the form of advance AI technologies. Even narrow AI technologies can do immense harm if handled recklessly.

It is essential that responsible citizen scientists, technologists and journalists lead the movement for a higher role of ethics in technology implementation.

AI in its advanced forms will not be a self-adjusting technology like electricity or computers. It is soon going to impinge on the human boundaries of intelligence, awareness and emotions.

It will ultimately throw up existential questions around choice and the desire to survive and evolve! Intelligence is what defines human beings on this planet, and we are talking of Intelligence, albeit outside human form!

As our knowledge grows, we may even do away with the idea of copying human intelligence and engineer new form or forms of intelligence altogether! Seems like a strange idea but do we know enough to rule out any possibility?

Should we allow the creation of new forms of intelligence without understanding the science, equations and chain reactions around a technology which is possibly much more powerful than nuclear energy? And soon there could be AI driven war machines carrying nukes!

At this moment we surely need more of curious research scientists than the know-all consultants and influencers who want to put technological application ahead of science.

(Image credit: www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/school, created by kjpargeter)

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