AI for All: The Modern Prometheus

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The Man a French Newspaper termed as “Merchant of Death” on Wikipedia is introduced to us as Businessman, Scientist & Philanthropist. Was Alfred Nobel a Sociopath that most of his inventions and the companies he has established had to do with manufacturing armaments and explosives, did he not think of the ramifications his inventions could cause to the greater humanity, did he have an iota of thought about what the world would remember him for…some questions, maybe he pondered over towards the later part of his life but Science and research are so addictive that most inventions have consumed the inventors psychologically and eventually were abused by mankind at large.

The world is on the cusp of accepting a next-generation revolution, a revolution that is trying to replicate human intelligence and fit extreme horsepower to the processing speed which otherwise is humanly impossible. The “AI for all” revolution has shown a huge possibility of addressing the pressing issues that the world is facing – Health, Education, Poverty, Climate Change and Quality of Life that are drafted on the top of the priority list. Researchers are excited about the possibility of predicting the onset of Carcinoma or deterioration of the myocardial muscle, effective management of traffic, efficient means of producing food, reducing human errors in mission critical decisions be it in business or economy and the list goes on, at times imagination is the only obstacle to advancement.

For every phenomenon in this world, there is an antithesis to advancement. We may not have seen Frankenstein’s creation but are we creating “The Modern Prometheus” that can change the equation between man and machine? The scariest nightmare could be that the machine erases the social Moral Compass and decides as to what is right and what is wrong on behalf of humans. 

The ethical dogma that haunts us about what is right and what is wrong, till date addressed issues that are in control of greater humanity. The advances we are making, are ensuring that we hand the magic wand to an inanimate sage to monitor us. The innovation and applied engineering are growing like a fission reaction with multiple intellectuals working out of the box to bring in methods to the madness. 

Given a scenario, where human endeavor is to advance, disruptive ideas that can change the rules of the game are armed with extreme arsenal like pattern recognition, image classification, natural language processing, neural networks etcetera coupled with processing speed. This makes it an oxymoron – a good challenge to solve with a frightful collateral damage. 

As the Parker Principle goes – “With Great power comes great responsibility”, we are endowing the ASI Agents with extreme power to control, index and order our lives based on what we experience in an open domain. It is for us to put boundaries as to where the interference ends, to identify what is relevant at that particular juncture, to what extent should these ASIs be used at a domestic level, what technology should reach common man and more importantly how do we control these, unfortunately the tables are turning on their head.

Netizens are today fine with the cute little apps that help them travel from Karol Bagh to Khan Market without getting lost or finding a restaurant that offers their favorite cuisine intuitively or suggests fashion ideas based on the body structure or many more based on need. Technology that is the foundation for these apps is the same technology that can be used for counter–productive means. Did you ever wonder why a game on your mobile asks you permission to access phone camera, to allow making calls, allow access to Microphone or even allow access to contacts? Holding on to every little bit of data that can be generated is important to go a notch ahead of the competition. Drone delivery looked at as nextgeneration courier system is the same principle based on which AI swarms are being built that use face recognition for targeted homicide. 

The thought looks straight out of a movie or a TV Series but the future is not too far ahead. Looking at how the science of AI is maturing, “AI for all”, I think, should be rechristened to “Responsible AI for all” because free will and privacy are two non – negotiable facets of human race. 

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