[op-ed snap] Charting our artificial intelligence future

Artificial Intelligence

  1. A world in which artificial-intelligence (AI) applications perform many tasks better than we can
  2. Digital technologies are our infosphere’s true natives
  3. A new habitat is one that has come to include a mix of analogue and digital components
  4. We are sharing the infosphere with artificial agents that are increasingly smart, autonomous, and even social

Machines using AI:

  1. The AI agents that have already arrived come in soft forms, such as apps, Web bots, algorithms, and software of all kinds
  2. And hard forms, such as robots, driverless cars, smartwatches, and other gadgets

Machines replacing Man- For:

  1. AI gadgets are replacing even white-collar workers, and performing functions that, just a few years ago, were considered off-limits for technological disruption, like:
  2. Cataloguing images, translating documents, interpreting radiographs, flying drones, extracting new information from huge data sets, and so forth
  3. Digital technologies and automation have been replacing workers in agriculture and manufacturing for decades; now they are coming to the services sector
  4. Any job in which people serve as an interface—between, say, a GPS and a car, ingredients and a finished dish, or symptoms and a corresponding disease—is now at risk

Machines replacing Man- Against:

  1. But, at the same time, new jobs will appear, because we will need new interfaces between automated services, websites, AI applications, and so forth
  2. Someone will need to ensure that the AI service’s translations are accurate and reliable
  3. What’s more, many tasks will not be cost-effective for AI applications

Risks associated with AI:

  1. The risk is that AI will only continue to polarize our societies if we do not manage its effects
  2. As jobs go, so will tax revenue
  3. It is unlikely that the companies profiting from AI will willingly step in to support adequate social-welfare programmes for their former employees

Steps that need to be taken:

  1. Instead, we will have to do something to make companies pay more, perhaps with a “robo-tax” on AI applications
  2. We should also consider legislation and regulations to keep certain jobs “human”
  3. Indeed, such measures are also why driverless trains are still rare, despite being more manageable than driverless taxis or buses


It will be a world where autonomous AI systems can manipulate our choices will force us to rethink the meaning of freedom. And we will have to rethink sociability as well, as artificial companions, 3D servants, or life-like sexbots provide attractive and possibly indistinguishable alternatives to human interaction.



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