Can an Artificial Intelligence Takeover Be Good?

By Olivia Libowitz
Elm Staff Writer

I’m quite excited for artificial intelligence to become a part of our day-to-day life. “But Olivia,” you say, “I’ve seen ‘I, Robot,’ what if we get overthrown by cyborgs?” First of all, there are worse things that could be running our country than robots. Second, the idea of technology has somehow been both overblown and downplayed by all of its Hollywood hype. It has been made to seem both huge and terrifying, yet way less interesting than A.I. actually is.

I know the first thing we think of when we here about A.I. is either Hal, from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” or J.A.R.V.I.S. from the “Iron Man” franchise. A.I. as a theoretical, monstrous concept has certainly been introduced to us. How does A.I. always go? Man makes robot to help us, man makes robot smarter to help us more, robot gets too smart, and robot takes over man. I think this very western, almost colonializing view of A.I. gives it a bad name. While there are certainly robots in the works being designed to behave like humans—which I’ll get back to in a moment—story lines like this are erasing most of a very wide field.

In truth, A.I. technology is moving in hundreds of new and exciting directions. According to a recent Forbes article, we have some interesting new inventions to look forward to in the next decade: Code that can sense blurriness in videos or images and assume what the original picture looks like, and then correct it; cars that stop themselves when they get too close to another object; voice detectors that hear and identify languages and adapt to match. Look at all these incredible new pathways for technology that in no way end with us all submitting to our new robot overlords.

There are, of course, plans to further the field of actual humanoid robots as well. If you do have a fear of robots, this would be the part in the article to stop reading. Not only have we had several breakthroughs in the past decade with life-like robots who can talk or respond to humans—Siri being the most basic example—but just this past Wednesday, at a presentation in Saudi Arabia, the nation’s government granted citizenship to a robot, and allowed her to address the world through her own speech. Yes, full-blown citizenship.

Now, no details were specified about what that meant, but theoretically it implies that the robot—Sophia—is entitled to legal defense, a jury, travel rights, and the like. Will she have to pay taxes? Will she be granted health care? That may sound ridiculous, but as Sophia is the first robot to be in such a position, the semantics are a bit fuzzy.

Don’t be alarmed, though. This is just the natural way technology is going to evolve. We’re not going to create technology that could become smarter than us, because we as inventors would have to be smart enough to create that technology in the first place. Humans are curious and bull-headed, and technology, especially A.I., is still such a young science, with so much room to grow. This technology is not going to stop advancing. I admit, the idea of granting a cyborg citizenship seems a bit excessive, but it seems to me more like a move to make a point: A.I. technology is here, and will only be getting more and more prevalent.

If it makes you feel any better, the last time Sophia said she would “destroy all humans” was still in her beta testing stage in March of 2016. Since then, she seems to be focusing more on using her existence to assist the elderly and help visitors at parks and zoos. This time around, at her Wednesday presentation, when she was told humans wanted to “prevent a bad future” as far as A.I. goes, what was Sophia’s response?

“You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk.”

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