Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

A.I.

Unless you have had an extended holiday somewhere off planet recently you may have heard of Artificial Intelligence, or A.I. if you will.

You may also know that there is a wealth of both anxiety and dread, and equal amounts of hope and joy in respect to what exactly A.I. can or will do.

So let us have a look at what A.I. is, what it can do, what it might do and where we are at right now.

A.I. – That Old Sci-Fi Trope

Picture the scene – you have seen it a thousand times – a lone person walks across a desolate landscape of a destroyed city, scavenging for resources, they might have a dog/cat/racoon etc. with them.

Soon it becomes apparent in the story that A.I. had decided that Humans must be destroyed for any number of given reasons and goes nuts.

Boooooom!

Now everyone looks like they have just left a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert and has varying degrees of disfigurements, mental health issues, and an impractical vehicle design!

Although this might be an extreme example, people are legitimately worried that A.I. could cause some genuine issues in the real world – right now in America there are many strikes happening due to the potential loss of jobs if A.I. can write scripts as well as a scriptwriter.

Could you be replaced by a robot some day?

There are currently many examples of A.I. being used instead of things that would traditionally be performed by a ‘flesh and blood’ person.

Have you heard of MidJourney?

It is an A.I. artist that can produce some spectacular images based off a simple list of commands which can produce some staggeringly realistic results.

Simon Wyndham over at Red Shark News used the command:

“Film still, style by 2020s Hong Kong martial arts thriller. Starring Bruce Lee. Sharp and detailed, fine grain, Kodak 200T, global illumination, uplight, 16-35mm lens, f1.8 –ar 16:9 –seed 2000 –q 2 –v 5”.

To get this image [insert image]

Bear in mind that that image is completely created by the A.I. – Wow!

Apart from some technical stuff you can see that what he asked for was plain English.

You can see from the article the reasons some digital artists are getting very worried…

Other prominent examples are:

  • Self-driving cars – Eventually they will replace all driving jobs.
  • ChatGPT – an online chat ‘bot’ that can respond intelligently and can even create entire texts from a simple query. “Write me a blog post about A.I.” for instance!
  • Facial recognition cameras – The Police now have cameras that can ID a driver and tell if they are using their phones.
  • Security systems – There are already A.I. systems monitoring building surveillance systems, and some security software use complex A.I. systems for monitoring.

A.I. is also being used increasingly in the business environment.

ChatGPT, Read.ai and similar systems can bring extremely powerful tools into the workplace, and can be used to directly create content, or monitor your meetings to provide instant minutes from a meeting.

Microsoft is also introducing its Co-pilot system in to its 365 platform to help with writing better documents (this post was written using the Co-Pilot system!).

Trouble in the future

Although there are many positive applications for A.I., Cancer researchers are using A.I. to process protein structures to find a cure, A.I. can spot problems in x-rays and scans more accurately than humans etc. there are some major caveats.

Firstly, there is the problems with employment as mentioned. Any job that requires processing can potentially be replaced by some form of A.I. construct – Beit a robot that can build cars, software that can write scripts, cars that can drive more safely that humans, the list goes on.

Do not worry though – your friendly neighbourhood IT support company will still be here – after all, we fix the systems that A.I. runs on!

There is also some profoundly serious risk involved…

Imagine if A.I. was put in charge of creating a new wonder drug to cure some malady, The A.I. decides that the only ‘cure’ is to kill the sufferer and so creates a bioweapon that kills thousands…

…or and A.I. security system that decides that the best form of defence is attack and launches a wide-scale cyber-attack against the current largest protagonists in malware – namely China and Russia. I am not sure a simple “sorry” would help!

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

Philip K. Dick wrote an interesting story called ‘Autofac’ which explores a potential disaster when humanity creates automated factories to make food. It would seem that the risk boils down to many “What if…” questions based on an intelligence greater than ours.

The potential issues are getting so worrisome; governments are starting to legislate against certain types of A.I.

Technology has been developing for ages – our Great Grandparents had not heard of Google – imagine!!

The idea of having a device to tell you where to go and it not taking 3 days to get from Yorkshire to Cornwall was alien to them but perfectly normal to us.

Whether you see this as an opportunity, or a threat is a matter of perception, but times and IT are most definitely changing!

And you thought that autocorrect was a pain, and who knows what your robot vacuum is planning?

A.I. - A new 'wonder' in the tech world or the beginning of the end for Humanity?

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