For years, there has been a surge in AI advancements. The technology has been helping many industries achieve their goals. But, amid the benefits come growing concerns about the development of superhuman artificial intelligence and how this can impact humanity. Some believe that while AI-enabled systems make jobs easier to do, others think they are taking over their careers. And those are just about run-of-the-mill AI-powered machines.
Imagine what superhuman AI systems will be able to do. So do humans have a valid reason to worry and fear the worst? Before we can answer that question, let’s define what superhuman AI is first.
What is Superhuman AI, and Why do People Fear It?
A superhuman AI or superintelligent machine has the potential to pursue its goal, depending on how it is programmed. Compared with standard AI systems that are designed to perform a specific task, superhuman AI machines can do almost anything that a human can. And what people fear is that if these systems are not programmed to be friendly toward humans, they may do harmful things to achieve their goals. In short, these machines may not care about anything else except attaining their objectives.
But before we all cower in fear, it’s only logical to see if developing superhuman AI systems is even possible. Let’s take a look at the current AI applications.
The Current AI Landscape
Current research and studies show that AI machines are capable of becoming smarter than humans. To date, the technology already has several applications in various fields that include:
- Creatives: While AI systems are far from replacing designers, they provide extensive benefits for those working in the creative industry. They make tasks more manageable and sometimes even automated. Book cover designers can, for instance, automate their tasks by just filling up fields with the book’s title, publisher, and author’s name, for example, and let the application come up with several potential designs based on the designer’s preferences. Logo and web designers can apply the same process to come up with studies for their clients.
- Marketing: Digital marketers work with big data to create strategies that are bound to work with their intended audiences. They analyze information from various sources and compile insights on market requirements and profiles using AI-powered analytics tools.
- Healthcare: Medical practitioners also use AI systems. Aside from gathering data from wearables and analyzing information to recommend the best treatments, these tools also deliver reports to patients. AI machines have also made drug discovery faster in that algorithms can be configured to predict the effects of a drug on a disease without having to wait months or sometimes even years when working with live test subjects.
- Cybersecurity: AI systems aid cybersecurity practitioners, threat hunters and incident response teams in sorting through massive amounts of intelligence to come up with solutions faster.
Given all of AI’s achievements so far, let’s now consider what experts have to say about the possibility of creating superhuman AI machines.
Superhuman AI-Related Concerns
Some concerns have risen due to the development of superhuman AI systems, especially now that big corporations are funding them. In July 2019, for instance, Microsoft pledged US$1 billion to OpenAI to develop a machine capable of artificial general intelligence. Some AI experts gave their thoughts on the possibilities:
AI Can be Smarter than Humans
Several tech enthusiasts believe that AI systems are rapidly becoming smarter than humans by learning more each day. At the rate things are going, it could be possible for them to surpass human intelligence.
Building Artificial General Intelligence is Possible
For superhuman AI to come into fruition, the technology’s proponents must first build the so-called “artificial general intelligence.” That refers to a machine that has an intellectual capacity that is very similar to that possessed by humans. At present, most systems are “narrow AI” devices, meaning they can only perform specific tasks. A system capable of doing all kinds of jobs that humans can is one that has artificial general intelligence. That machine does not yet exist, but experts believe it can.
AI is Limitless
While this statement is hard to prove, it is similarly challenging to refute. And that is what scares most people. If AI systems do expand their intelligence beyond that of humans, can they be controlled?
Should We be Worried?
While it is hard to say with certainty that superhuman AI is nothing but a myth, we see no indications yet of its coming. AI has yet to overcome several hurdles before it can mimic human consciousness and intelligence. That said, there is no cause to worry, at least, not yet.
If it’s any comfort, when the time comes, the existence of superhuman AI machines can only come to pass if the world’s leaders allow their creation. By that time, they should ideally put laws and regulations in place to make sure that the systems must improve and not endanger human lives.