The term “Artificial Intelligence” has about two hundred official definitions. It’s being used in a broad spectrum of technological fields, businesses, humanitarian causes, social and polytechnic researches. In the end, the term in itself is empty.
Artificial intelligence was born more than fifty years ago and at that time it had a singular purpose. Computers already existed and they performed their task of counting well enough. So humanity decided to create a program that would be smart enough to imitate human intelligence - they called it “Artificial Intelligence”. For the next 35 years, humanity was busy creating more advanced forms of AI, but as the time went, nothing was really developing – it wasn’t really like a human and was never going to be.
The first task concerning AI was the following: to create a program with intelligence to equal that of a human being.
But suddenly they realized that intellect was one thing, but mind and consciousness were entirely different concepts.
Again, everything led to the brain. At the center of the U.S program “Brain” was - you guessed it - the human brain, thinking. Same was the case in Europe and China. A new phenomenon appeared, now widely discussed by scholars like Dr. Harari in his books and articles (Dr. Yuval Noah Harari has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History).
More precisely, Dr. Harari writes that there are 3 main challenges that humanity is facing at this moment: climate change, nuclear war and - last but not least - the human brain becoming prone to hacking with the advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
In fact, the existing technology already allows slight hacking of the human brain - of individuals as well as entire populations.
And if we want to try and have a conversation about artificial intelligence, we must begin with defining what is it exactly that we want to talk about - the influence on elections or how to hack humanity.
If you are voting for a politician, you too have already been hacked, by the likes of “Cambridge Analytics” and company. They do primitive things, but it works. They actually say that if an average U.S citizen is shown a certain image once a day, the probability of them voting for Trump will increase by 12%. The image could be anything - maybe of some little old lady holding a pint of beer and a hotdog. Why? Because. The algorithm says that this particular picture tends to lean preferences in Trump’s favor.
Nobody has really created such a thing with bad intentions, but it is now impossible to stop.
Let’s take another great example:
It’s a well-known dilemma: Two little kids playing in the street in their neighborhood suddenly jump in front of an oncoming vehicle. The driver is an old, drunk stockbroker with cancer. The car’s AI has two options: It either dodges the kids and rams the car into a concrete wall resulting in its old, cancer-ridden owner’s death, or drives right through the little kids who just happened to be there and kills them, but saves the owner’s life.
We already know what choice the AI will make. The manufacturers of this product will program the car to have both options and sell it to the dealer, saying: “We don’t take any responsibility. You’re the ones selling the car, so it’s up to you to decide how it will behave in such situations.”
The dealer will probably respond: “Are you nuts? The insurance company will skin me alive if a person dies in the vehicle I insured and sold them. I can’t take such responsibility upon myself”. This dealer would later sell said vehicle to its new owner and inform him of the two options, saying that he will need to choose one.
After that, the new owner of the car, the drunk, old and cancer-ridden broker that we mentioned before, will set his vehicle to the “Self Preservation” option - “Run over whoever you want, my life is the most precious one” - and that’s exactly what will happen.
The car is the simplest example. It’s far less complicated compared to the stock market or wars. The setting is clear. There’s an old alcoholic, there are the little kids, and he will crash them. Why? Because he’ll program the car that way himself, because nobody else will take such responsibility, nobody would want to. Most people would never choose the option of giving up their own lives for the sake of saving others. What if the owner was a woman? Maybe an old lady? Most of them would still choose themselves over others.
Many people think that we as a species took a wrong turn, and so did evolution. This is the path we chose. And now we’re starting to realize that the path we picked may have been a dead end. We should cover it, revisit the beginning and make all the right turns in a better direction… If we can.