How will Artificial Intelligence Influence the World in 2050?
Mathew Thomas, PhD
The advancement in the fields of AI is rapid and is fast changing.The bigger concerns with AI as machines get more intelligent, is how to get the system to ensure fairness, justice, transparency and be accountable to humans. As the AI industry is growing, more countries are putting in place strategies and policies to make AI accountable and justiciable. The future is with AI and it will be the main driver for economic growth. The fields that will have the greatest impact through AI, will be medical, education, pharmaceuticals, vehicles and transportation, autonomous weapons and justice delivery.
While the developments in drug synthesis, facial recognition, natural language processing, self-driving vehicles, weapon systems, oncology, etc., is driving growth of AI, it would be no surprise to note that modern day living would be ruled by AI. It would be intrusive and larger privacy issues remain to be determined.
We as a society is at an interesting junction; of science fiction and reality. It is more of science fiction to the doomsday sayers and more realistically it is to help determine how to use the technology that adds to human, democratic values such as freedom, equality, liberty, and transparency.
Future of Invention
What distinguishes AI is its ability to be knowledge based and in creating knowledge as an independent output, without further human intervention in its process. But the feature so far is that knowledge so created by the AI is treated as that of the creator of AI.
This is going to change in the near future when AI systems will create original products or inventions on their own. DABUS is one such example of an invention but was not given a patent. As on date all inventions created by an AI will be granted a patent to the owner or the creator of the system. Artificial Intelligence systems in the future will be able to create inventions and even define its boundaries. It will create works of literature, music, paintings, etc. AI systems do have the capability to choose between alternatives on its own, it stands out as creative, autonomous and can rationalize on its own to a great extent. They continue to learn from data in the system and correct themselves to a large extent. In the near future, sensing algorithms will achieve superhuman performance capabilities required for driving, automated perception, including vision is already near or at human level performance for well-defined tasks such as recognition and tracking and advances in perception will be followed by algorithmic improvements in high-level reasoning capabilities such as planning.[i] So where does all this lead, is a question that needs to be asked.
Machine learning requires huge chunks of data given that there is exponential rise in computing power as compared to the late seventies, huge capability in data storage and tremendous improvements in processing capacity. How these impacts, can be seen when entities/companies collect data from a huge variety of sources, humongous, to include anything using the net like smart devices, equipment, social media, robots etc. The data can flow from a variety of formats like stock market, text documents, emails, videos, films over the net, audios etc., which needs to be handled and these can only be handled if there is large scale processing, storage, transmission in the shortest possible time. Every time somebody uses an electronic device there is data exhaust and that data exhaust becomes the data gold for companies. How are tech giants, like FB, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc., surviving? They are have grown bloated on data, that is being given away free when one uses it.
What will Happen to your Jobs?
The greatest upheaval will be seen in the way we look at jobs and employment, since many of the jobs will be AI driven and is likely to threaten low skilled jobs, that are repetitive and answering customer driven questions. This is already seen in the use of BOTs in customer service. Another area which will have greater impact is on the way we reach out to customer service on basic service needs as many of them will be answered by AI systems, who will be mimicking humans. There is a problem in this that there is no way of knowing whether the person at the end of servicing is an AI or human. Your job will be taken over by AI and that may include all jobs that are repetitive and those that require less skill. Look at welding being done in car factories. These are being done by robots.The greatest impact of AI will be on low level tasks which will be taken away by the AI.
The use of AI in medicine will probably outweigh the use of any other kind of AI as a benefit to mankind. AI systems like IBM Watson have proved that the diagnosis by an AI system is far superior to that of super specialists in the medical field, once the training of the system is complete. Similarly large scale use of robots in robotic surgery is a healthy trend though there are concerns about its safety either by the robot or the doctor.
In an experiment, NYU School of Medicine, used AI for diagnosing lung cancer.[i] NYU used a large set of imaging data made available as a public resource by the cancer genome Atlas and these images were typically prepared by pathologists using microscopes through a manual process and prone to error. The neural networks were shown each image and told what the diagnosis says and to train these networks they used about 800,000 images obtained from 12,000 samples from both healthy and disease lungs. After training was complete, the performance of the system was tested and it was found that it was accurate in 97% of the cases, better than the performance of the three pathologists who were independently asked to diagnose the same test set of patients tumours.
The future will have AI systems that will be needed to be used by doctors for diagnosis. This too will change when the doctor’s role will become secondary to the AI system. That is the level of sophistication that will be seen in medical AI systems in the future.
Now imagine a neurallink directly into the brain where a chip will transmit music directly through holes drilled by laser in the skull, which Elon Musk’s company Neuralink, is researching into and should be a reality in the future. Elon Musk in his paper in which he has built arrays of small flexible electrode threads with as many as 3.072 electrodes per array distributed among 96 threads, with each thread that can be surgically implanted without vascular damage. So is this where science fiction ends and becomes a reality?
The bionic eye that helps in robotics and visual prosthetics are in the final stages of development, have been tried and tested. Scientists have developed a bionic eye that is electrochemical with hemispherical retina with an array of nanowires mimicking the photoreceptors on human retina.[ii] The nanowires are very sensitive surpassing human eye’s optical wavelength allowing it to respond to 800 nanometres wavelength, giving it the ability to see in the dark, holding up to 460 million nano-sized sensors, which have surpassed the 10 million cells in the human retina.[iii] This is remarkable and could probably give humans visions far surpassing the capability of the human eye and would change the way blind people are treated, though presently this is at a proof of concept stage. This again is a huge step, in developing bionic eye that would probably render sight to millions of blind people across the world apart from being used in the robotic industry.
The Future of Sex and Marriage
There was a time when a live-in relationship was frowned upon, but today it is recognized through the force of law. A look at LGBT relationships today would also surprise us as to how the society which once frowned upon these relationships, now accept these.
Marriage may become a thing of the past in probably six decades, as a majority of the population may not like to be committed to the institution of marriage. Then what? There are many reasons as to why one gets married. One may marry, due to parental pressure, since that’s the in thing to do, for companionship, for sex, friendship, raising a family, safety, etc. But these are set to change. Marriage may become a thing of the past. One may not want a human partner. What if the partner is an AI machine, with which one interact, talk to, and act out fantasies in the virtual world, with no commitment? Look at the changes with advent of a mobile phone and the way we interact with others.Our addiction to mobile phone is a telling example how we are addicted. Remove this sophisticated device from an individual and see the withdrawal pangs and symptoms.
The use of robots/dolls to entertain adults is nothing new in the sex toy industry. Sex was hidden in India, talks on sex was taboo, people frowned on discussing the topic, but when the internet opened up, it threw up major opportunities for the population. Sale of sex toys has risen 65% during Covid pandemic[i] in India, with Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu occupying the top three positions in purchasing sex toys. Most of the female buyers were from Karnataka and Telangana. Today E Com sites cater to simple sex toys and are available in India for pleasure seeking individuals, both male and female. The argument for sex toys, though still deviant for some, is that sex is a basic instinct and needs are to be fulfilled.
While sex toys are not banned in majority of the countries, it continues to be a threat in the developing of robots or toys in the form of a child. As it is with technology about 30% -35% of the internet traffic is porn. While countries ban such porn, yet there are many countries that permit porn to be watched by adults. There are companies manufacturing robots with AI, as sexual toys, such as Smart Doll World, Shenzhen A tall Intelligent Robot Technology based in Guangdong province, etc. This issue is yet to catch sociologist’s attention i.e., the use of sex robots. US researchers have already warned that the availability of sex robots with AI, could pose grave risks to individuals and society with some sort of psychological damage and moral threat to the individual and commodification of women and children. Campaign Against Sex Robots (CASR) has warned that the present-day ideas of forming a relationship with a machine is increasingly becoming the norm in today’s culture. Pleasure seekers will gain from AI. Increasingly the use of AI in sex toys will see an exponential rise within a decade. There are two ways to argue this, one, that’s its immoral for a society to encourage development of sex toys, two, it is much needed for humans to enjoy their lives, just as hedonism advocates.
What would happen if an aged person either a widow or widower wants to enjoy sex in the privacy of the home, when he or she can’t find a partner? Should they be denied the pleasure or should society frown upon them as morally corrupt. This is a difficult question to answer. Arguments can be made both for and against. Sex is part and parcel of life that includes a wedded life. The future will see larger share of AI controlled sex toys and then the question arises whether a commitment to marriage is required. The future as a society will see decreased demands for commitment to marriage. Humans may not want to be married and may well have an AI partner who will cater to the segment. It is something like the change from a joint family system to the present-day nuclear family system. Today invitro fertilization is a common practice, for couples who can’t conceive. The eggs are removed from the ovaries, inseminated and after five days are transferred back into the uterus.
On a similar note , a female partner may not want to undergo the period of gestation of nine months for a baby, she may well in the future approach an AI medical laboratory to look after the embryo. Think this is far-fetched? It will not be. AI will decide on the nutrition for the embryo, from conception to maturation. She will be relieved of the drudgery of conception.
Whether AI will take over the world or otherwise, will all depend on how humans make it. AI must always be looked at as a harbinger of change and that we have already seen. However, a doomsday prediction maybe farfetched as some in the AI industry believe and that is why we need to examine what we create carefully in the beginning. This is the perfect reason why ethics and principles play a key role in its determination and AI needs to be regulated.
The future of AI, holds great potential with this system but it is also fraught with endless possibilities that could be dangerous to the society and the human race. It is Stephen Hawking, who said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of human race… It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”
Note: The author has only touched upon three aspects; jobs, invention and future of sex and marriage, due to constraints of space.
i Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030; Stanford University.
ii WIPO (2019);WIPO Technology Trends 2019.
iii Leilei Gu, Swapnadeep Poddar, et al, A biomimetic eye with a hemispherical perovskite nanowire array, hemispherical perovskite nanowire array retina; Nature 581, 2020.
iv Victor Tangermann, The bionic eye is better than a real one, scientists say.