Why are we so afraid of Artificial Intelligence?

It is within human nature to fear the unknown. And regardless of how much debate there is around artificial intelligence, most of it still remains mysterious. The concept of AI exists since the 1950s, however, it has gained considerable ground and attention starting with 2000. Catchy headlines in well-known publications constantly make us aware of the advancements in the field and the raising concerns as well as dangers awaiting just around the corner. What is a person to do in this situation? Panic seems to be the appropriate response. But what are we actually panicking about?

AI will steal our jobs

Even though we continue to have a lot of questions when it comes to artificial intelligence, it is also quite clear that sophisticated AI could make the world a better place. It can help us fight climate change, discover new treatments for diseases, better understand our customers and take over most of the traditional activities that we have to do now. But this does not come lightly. Because, what we see as mundane activities that do not bring any value, others see as their only way towards making a living. Knowing that smart machines are coming to handle all these tasks makes a lot of people anxious. For some of them, this is a legitimate fear. However, a lot of people nurture skills that technology is unlikely to replicate. These are related to creativity, abstract or critical thinking, social or emotional intelligence and, of course, programming and other roles tied to developing the AI systems we’re afraid of.

Machines will take over the world

Although they are quite entertaining and interesting, we should admit that most of the AI-based movies share a negative image of a future in which super-intelligent machines will take over the world. The number of humans has already been surpassed by mobile devices since 2014, so, a world where we are no longer dominant does not seem so far-fetched.

Speaking at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, the late Stephen Hawking warned that computers will overtake human intelligence within the next 100 years. According to him, a solution to this should come from scientists and engineers that need to safely and carefully coordinate and communicate advancements in AI to ensure it does not grow beyond humanity’s control. Elon Musk, who uses artificial intelligence capabilities to build the car of the future, is also worried about AI development. In an interview, he mentioned that “something seriously dangerous” may come about from AI in the next 5-10 years.

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