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Artificial Intelligence: Automation Or Autonomy

By Sanjukumar Amrutlal Gajjar


It was around December 2022 when the endless engine of one of the social media applications flooded with the content creators discoursing somewhat colder subject; “Artificial intelligence”, they called it, and the metaphor they used was “Chat-GPT”, a chatbot capable of answering rationally of almost any problem input. Suddenly, this started grabbing all the eyes since the creators thrived to guarantee how this metaphor could ably create the most desired solutions, not only a boon for tech-savvies but also for tech-illiterates. In fact, so much so providential it stood out that in the rampant competition, Google, one of the Big nine giants (As per Amy Webb, an American writer) in the world of AI boasted out with its newer intelligent program named “Google Bard”. However, this is not for the first time we have come across this voguish word, neither just now have we educated ourselves with this term, or even used it, but it is in use since 1950, or even back in time when Alan Mathison Turing, a British logician and computer pioneer for the first time had expressed his thoughts on “Machinery Intelligence” and “Intelligent Machinery”. Later in 1950, his published work on “Turing test” (A test analyzing computer intelligence) discussed on an unrealistic question, “Can machines think?” But since than his work has been largely scrutinized or it is still under review. Until lately, no AI program has come closer to passing an undiluted Turing test, but the advent of “Chat-GPT” has reignited conversation about the likelihood that the components of the Turing test had been met. And if so, then we have no right to disagree that, “Machines can think?!

What is AI?

Out of many, one that defines AI satisfactorily is, “It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs”. In even basic form, AI is a field, which combines computer science and robust datasets to enable problem-solving using their AI algorithms. The main four potential goals of AI are: 1) Systems that think like humans 2) Systems that act like humans 3) Systems that think rationally 4) Systems that act rationally. Alan Turing’s definition would have fallen under the category of “Systems that act like humans.” Well, presently, starting from shortcuts in our iPhone(s) to autopilots in aircrafts, AI has infiltrated in every possible non-human devise.

Types: Fundamentally there are two types:

1) Weak AI/ Narrow AI/ or Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI): It is trained and focused to perform specific tasks, like used in Apple's Siri, Google assistant, Amazon's Alexa, IBM Watson, and autonomous vehicles.

2) Strong AI/ Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)/ or Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI): This is the AI with intelligence and ability similar to human brains, or even beyond, known as Super-intelligence; dreadfully, it could have self-awareness, humanoid consciousness, and the cognitive powers to solve problems, perform unfamiliar tasks and commands, learn from them, and even plan for the future. But fortunately, till date, we don’t have any such practical forms of super-intelligence available with us. Even more transcendental excellence of such AI is its ability to find the solution to a problem and working beyond a preprogrammed algorithm. However, we have strong AI amongst us: Visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and translations between languages, are some of the examples.

History of AI: It all started with Alan Turing’s publication on “Computer machinery and intelligence” in 1950. Then in1956, John McCarthy eulogized the term at first-ever AI conference at Dartmouth College. Trio of Allen Newell, J.C. Shaw and Herbert Simon in the same year created the Logic Theorist, a first-ever running AI software program. A decade later, Frank Rosenblatt developed the Mark 1 Perceptron, the first computer based on a neural network that 'learned' though trial and error. But interestingly, the breakthrough in history of AI began with use of back-propagation algorithm to train itself in 1980 and so on. On 11th May1997, Deep Blue, chess-playing AI system defeated world chess champion, Garry Kasparov. If not all, in the year 2011, IBM's question answering system, Watson beat two greatest Jeopardy! Champions, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, by a significant margin. And just recently, in March 2016, Alpha-Go won 4 out of 5 games of Go in a match with Go champion Lee Sedol, becoming the first computer Go-playing system to beat a professional Go player without handicaps. And now, we again have “Chat-GTP”, even GPT4, an upgrade of earlier in March 2023 reconnecting with its inventor and endorsing his hard work.

Reach of AI in our lives: Try picking up a typical day-life-scenario and stun yourselves with the infiltration rate of AI in our daily lives!

Let’s say you are a CEO (Chief executive officer) of a famous MNC (Multi-nation Company) and today you are scheduled to preside a conclave in an another city seventy miles far.

You woke up with the chime of your Smartphone as the scheduler of your smartphone alarmed you (AI), then you commanded Alexa to turn off the lights and air-condition of your room (AI). Now you got your shower, dressed yourself up, but meanwhile you got your phone and commanded Siri to read your messages (AI), and it said in its last message that you have the conclave in next two hours. You hurried up, rushed to the kitchen and programed a recipe for your breakfast in the microwave (AI). You ate, packed up and commanded Alexa again to turn off the system of your house as you began to leave. You shut the door and looked at your phone to unlock it (AI), then you locked the house using an application in your phone based on house-locking system (AI).

Now, you used the elevator (equipped with automatic power back up system- AI) to get down to your auto-driving car (AI). But before entering the car, while in elevator you had transferred your trip map to your car (AI), and now, once you got on your driving seat you even commanded your car, pronouncing “START”, and it identified your voice (AI) and began to hum. Automatic climate control AC (AI) of your car puffed up and for few miles you drove it, but as you hit the highway, you set the car on ADAS - Advanced driver-assistance systems (AI).

Next, you relaxed yourself and hooked with your phone. You searched many important articles related to your conclave via search engines like Google and Bling (AI), browsed multiple social media apps (AI) and some entertainment platforms like Netflix and Primevideo (AI), did few video conferencing (AI), but suddenly, your Smartwatch vibrated as something in between hit your mind anxiously. You put the phone aside and looked at your watch which said, “STRESSED” (AI). You exhaled and used built-in meditation motor to calm yourself (AI). But suddenly, your phone and automated car system intimated you about a thunderstorm approaching (AI). Now, you had two things to act upon; one, the thought which made you stressful and other, if to continue with bad weather or not. You decided to continue; hence you opened your business suitcase and pulled a single page agreement written in Japanese language. Again you reached for your phone, scanned the document, and your phone after detecting Japanese language translated it into English language (AI). With a sigh you made a document of it and sent an email to concern authority- this was the thought about this translated document to be sent beforehand which was missed. Now, second act; you dismissed automation and set behind the wheels.

Across the dangerous thunderstorm your car system showed traffic jam ahead (AI), so you tried using alternate route using map (AI), but while you were focused with the map your phone chimed multiple times and you made a mistake of heeding for it, it was on floor accidently. You tried to pick it up, lost the control and your car rolled over.

SOS system of your phone (AI) detected the crash and dialed the emergency number right away. You were grievously injured, but you were rescued via air ambulance. In the hospital, series of medical tests and procedures (AI) were performed, a robot even carried out surgery for you (AI), and now on the day of discharge when you were to leave for home, a customer friendly chatbot (AI) popped up on your phone screen asking for the feedback!

On the way home, you chatted with chatbot and submitted the feedback, scrolled Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more social media applications, and to your wonder, all the application started feeding you with videos, courses, images, even recommendations of the hospitals in case of an accidents! (AI). In fact, advertisements relating to prosthetic limbs began to reappear, since you had lost your left leg in the accident.

Finally, you reached the home and scanned your eyes (AI) at the door. With a click it opened up and you disappeared behind the door.

Next day, your scheduler chimed again! (AI)

The Lesion here is: CEO or a house-maker, a day life or a daily life, an uneducated or a scholar, day or night, AI has touched us and everything in varying proportions, its only how we shall manage the manifestation of its hold!

Models and Uses of AI:

Since 2010, AI applications such as, Google, Bling, Yahoo etc. (search engines), Netflix, YouTube or Amazon (Recommendation engines), AdSense, Facebook, Instagram etc. (Targeted advertising and social media platforms), Siri, Alexa, and Google assistant (Virtual assistants), autonomous vehicles (including drones, ADAS and self-driving cars like Waymo), Microsoft and Google Translate (Automatic language translation), Apple's Face ID or Microsoft's Deep-Face (Facial recognition system), image labeling used by Facebook, Apple's iPhoto and TikTok, and most recently, the spam filtering Email systems (Gmail, Yahoo mail etc.), chatbots (Chat-GPT, GPT4), art AI (DALL-E 2 or Jasper Art AI), or even integration of AI with Kiosks are at the heart of the most commercially successful areas of computing, and have become a ubiquitous feature of daily life.

However, after computer, the model that has been infiltrated, is being infiltrated, or might get copiously infiltrated with AI is none another than a Humanlike Robot; Superhuman! The review of which still stands next to AI itself!

Brighter face of AI:

If put in descending order, then following are the fields which have incorporated AI profusely and have bourgeoned alongside using its free merits; Telecommunications (15%), transportation (15%), life and medical sciences (12%), and personal devices, computing and human–computer interaction (11%). While remaining 47% included banking, entertainment, security, industry and manufacturing, agriculture, and networks (including social networks, smart cities and the Internet of things). IBM leads the portfolio of AI patents with number as high as 8,290 followed by Microsoft with its number ranking at 5,930 patents.

AI content detector tools: They analyze and detect specific types of content in digital media, such as text, images, and videos and filter unfitting content, such as speech errors, violent or sexual images, and spam etc. Besides, they promise for efficiency, accuracy, safety, security, reduced legal and reputational risks for websites and platforms.

Thousands of successful AI applications are constantly serving biggest life-sectors such as energy storage, deepfakes, medical diagnosis, military logistics, foreign policy, or supply chain management.

The Surtrac intelligent traffic signaling system is the best example of AI integration here: The system coordinated the traffic lights at a number of Pittsburgh (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) intersections based on actual traffic conditions and reduced drive time by 25%, traffic jam waiting time by 40%, and air pollution by 20%.

Duskier face of AI: Amongst most dreaded consequences following three could be the initial insights

  1. Job loss (?): True, that after incorporation of AI into countless electronic or mechanical devices and other computing operations it has simplified the life, but alongside, it also appears to have cut the efficient human hands and has rusted the logical and cognitive minds. AI-integrated kiosks have replaced cashiers, retailers, doormen, security guards and what not, automated cars might kick the drivers out in near future, customer care executives have started looking like chatbots, AI translators would devalue the human mouths, robots would serve and waiters might just wait, AI-enabled education might extinct the actual value-based coaching, banks on the par would go total virtual, art of any form might surrender to chatbots like Chat-GPT or even upgraded successor to it throwing artists, writers, editors, gamers, creators into complete blackhole, AI-enabled traffic lights might eat the jobs of police, even the grandest projects might run on total automation with bare minimum human integration, and there is much more this AI could consume. Endorsing this, the report of WEF (World economic forum) in 2020 has stated that in next five years AI might displace 85 million jobs in medium and large businesses across 15 industries and 26 economies, quoting it as “Global labour shortage”. However, anything to judge during this transition would be too early, since WEF in its 2023 report also stated that by 2025, technologies, such as automation only will create at least 12 million more jobs than they eliminate, and allied sectors would benefit with more than 97 million jobs. So, here, as long as the Jobs are concerned, it would be better to change the word from “Displaced” to “Replaced” until the era of AI is full established, but by that time, what the humans might need to fit in are adaptation, up-skilling, upgrading, training, and leveraging.

  1. Cyber in-security: There is no reason to disagree that AI has the potential to provide advanced solutions for detecting and mitigating cyber threats (Threat hunting), but with that, AI algorithms too can be biased or make errors, leading to false positives or negatives. Also, AI is easily susceptible to hacking since its algorithms rely on vast amounts of data to make decisions, making it vulnerable to data tampering and other forms of hacking. For example: Creating bots that can carry out phishing campaigns at scale, creating a fake website that looks identical to a legitimate one, attackers test and improve their malware to make it resistant to AI-based security tools. So, in upcoming years, there is no deniability in assuming that the bank page in which you are running transection might not be genuine but AI-made!

  1. Mental Paralysis: Although it is called Artificial intelligence, we are selecting it naturally. And here, it goes without saying that Charles Darwin in his theorem is winning again. “Survival of the fittest”, as what he had summed it up, and after this many years when following the same, when we are on the verge of selecting the one, human brain seems losing the race against self-learning AI programs which have started doing it all for the human(s), eventually limping their creativity and intellectual abilities. Thinking and an urge to creation, the only existential evidences of human brain, be it creative, cognitive, critical, logical, or emotional, is asked to take rest! Well, this could just be the beginning, but the automation is already leading the race of survival. Staling mental health due to overuse of smartphones or other smart devices have already been well researched and documented, and if something like self-learning chatbots or similar finds a space in those devices, then human mental capacity to even cope up with the race seems questionable; in such chatbot(s) you just type your problem and you have the best possible outcome, and you don’t need to think at all! It’s like a technological Jinn! Isn’t it?

  1. Enigma of Super-intelligent AI: Before 2018, weak AI which depended on NLP (Natural language processing) worked using the datasets stuffed into them and targeted only specific function for what they were designed. In a simple term, they were unifunctional sort of AIs, but the major turnaround of November 2022 with advent of Chat-GPT suddenly upscaled the possibilities of multifunctional AIs and complied with the statement of I.J Good, a British mathematician in 1965; “Designing smarter AI systems is itself a cognitive task. Such a system could potentially undergo recursive self-improvement, triggering an intelligence explosion leaving human intellect far behind. By inventing revolutionary new technologies, such as super-intelligence might help us eradicate war, disease, and poverty, and so the creation of strong AI might be the biggest event in human history”. But in long term, an important question is what will happen if the quest for strong AI succeeds and an AI system becomes better than humans at all cognitive tasks, what if crashing or your laptop being hacked could be a little nuisance for you as long as AI system does what you want it to do. So, for now, the human cognitive abilities appear vulnerable to mental numbness, but if the quest for even stronger AI continues, then how these invincible versions of AIs would behave is the biggest concern here; would they be benevolent or malevolent to human race?

  1. Autonomous weaponry: The least desired machines to use AI must be none another than fire weapons, since they are programed to kill. A weapon to be automatic could be valuable, even meritorious, but it to turn autonomous is devastating. In wrong hands, these weapons could bring genocide, even AI war is not a remote though. Besides, humans might lose the control if they are designed to “turn off” with much difficulties, or if they reprogram themselves!

An emotional AI?

Ah! For now, that’s not possible. Experts disagree for Super-intelligent AI, not yet developed, in any way would express emotions or act emotionally, but could prove eradicating based on how they are programed. Like, “Slaughterbots” or “killer robots” use AI to identify, select, and kill human targets without human intervention. Or, they might just perform what you asked for and not according to what you wished for. For example, you commanded your autonomous car to take you to airport as fast as possible, and it might succeed in doing that, but in the end you might be vomiting, someone might have been hit, a law might have been compromised, and a helicopter could be chasing you up in the air.

Should we stop?

Well, at an individual level we don’t have the right to say where and when this AI-centric upheaval must rest, but in adaptation, we always have one thing which still can keep us human; our choice. Yes, it was, it is, and it always will be there with us. We, must choose what to eat from the dish. Narrow AI can grow into strong AI and that into Super-AI, but it shall be our choice for how much infiltration we are able to withstand or allow. No matter how deeper the AI grows, it forever will be our choice only which will prevent existential crisis in human(s); our brains will still think, our hands will still create, and our existence will still proliferate if we learn to prevail. Henceforth, choose between the book or e-book, choose between meditation or the Smartwatch prompting you to relax, choose between deeper, more meaningful learning or shallow, volatile knowledge, and in last, summing up all, choose between your brain and the artificial one! Remember, the only human expression that can thwart AI in ousting human race is, “OUR CHOICE”!

By Sanjukumar Amrutlal Gajjar

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