Artificial intelligence (AI) is the future of industry, education and healthcare. With companies being able to develop their own AIs to do tasks that suit them, and the development of AI becoming more and more common, how can we be sure that artificial intelligence is all it’s made out to be? What are the advantages and disadvantages of Artificial intelligence (AI)?
Advantages of Artificial intelligence (AI)
Avoid human error
Artificial intelligences are machines, and when programmed correctly, machines don’t make mistakes. This means that AI can help us to avoid situations where any mistakes are too dangerous or even ones where we don’t notice mistakes we’re making that have an impact. Eliminating human error can improve efficiency, safety, accuracy and precision, meaning AI can be a huge benefit for sectors requiring those things.
A better worker
Another advantage of artificial intelligence is that they are better workers than humans – they’re available 24/7, don’t need to have a break to eat, sleep or go to the toilet, and they don’t get distracted, so they’re more efficient than humans are. They can also multitask far more effectively than humans, and handle tedious repetitive tasks without getting bored or distracted, which leaves humans to do more creative tasks that they’ll find more fulfilling.
Makes day to day chores easier
AI-powered digital assistants like Siri, Cortana or OK Google respond to our needs and are updated when new information is found to help them with that task. AI assistants like those can help us make our shopping lists, group our photos into albums, or automatically change words we’ve spelt wrong in our text messages. All of these can make our day to day lives easier, giving us more time to focus on our friends, families and hobbies.
Fast, unaffected decision-making
Humans are fallible, emotional creatures, and any decisions they make when emotional can be affected by those emotions. AI, however, are not emotional, so when they make decisions logic determines what the outcome is, and they will always be rational when making decisions. They can also make decisions a lot more quickly than humans can, due to the speed at which they process information, and they can process a lot more information much faster than humans.
Applications in different industries
AI can be hugely advantageous for different industries and sectors. This includes healthcare, where AI is being used to help clinicians make decisions regarding treatments due to the large amount of data that AIs have at their disposal. In education, AI is being used to automate administrative tasks so that teachers can spend more time teaching. In business, AI can be used to help with cross-referencing data to allow us to analyse it more effectively and saving us time in the process.
If robots have AI, then they can go to places that are considered too dangerous for humans. This means they could defuse bombs, search for landmines, or collect data samples from inhospitable places, such as space. This preserves human expertise and increases our knowledge, saves lives and solves problems that affect people all over the world.
Making online experiences better
Chatbot AIs exist to help humans have a better experience when dealing with companies online: they can answer our queries, help us find the products we’re after and give us a customer service experience that is nearly indistinguishable from that of a real human. All of this serves to ensure we get a reply to our questions when searching for things online, meaning we don’t have to wait as long to be spoken to, and showing us products that we’re interested in.
Many AI creations can also help us to invent new methods or items that can solve problems we have, whether that’s in the medical field where AI has helped doctors come up with new ways to detect early-stage breast cancer or in education where it can help improve accessibility and differentiation of lessons and resources for pupils of differing abilities.
Disadvantages of Artificial intelligence (AI)
One disadvantage of AI is that it is expensive in terms of both money and time. The hardware required to run AI is expensive and can take up a lot of space, and the expertise required to program AI to the point where it can help us necessitates a great deal of training and experience. Programming the AI itself can take months or even years, so it is definitely an investment for the future rather than something that can be considered a short-term project.
Doesn’t improve with experience
An AI can only do what it is programmed to do, and the vast majority do learn from that programming. To improve how an AI does a task, a programmer has to manually change the code and then check that it runs correctly before the AI can return to its normal routine. AI can also struggle with adapting to dynamic environments as they often find it difficult to change their routine or responses when the environment changes often.
Another consequence of AI being programs is that they are incapable of being as creative as humans are. Some of the most innovative creations have come from humans who have been in difficult circumstances, and AI often cannot measure up to our creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
If AI becomes more and more common in the workplace, some people are concerned that this would lead to a rise in unemployment because many of the more manual, repetitive jobs would be being done by machines, leaving many people with no income if there aren’t enough jobs in other industries or businesses.
If AI makes our everyday lives easier, we may lose some of our ability to solve problems or memorize things, which could result in negative consequences further down the line, or even for future generations if we become too dependent on AI to solve all our problems for us. It could also mean that we lose some of the everyday skills that are necessary when going through life.
Lack of ethics
Humans are often governed by their ethical code: what they consider to be right and wrong. The only ethics an AI will follow are those programmed into it by its creator, but even this is limited by coding problems. If AI are left to make decisions without having an ethical code, they make decisions that harm humans due to the way they follow logic and their lack of emotions and ethics.
Potential to get out of control
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to AI has been portrayed in the media countless times: what will happen if we lose control of them? Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest physicists we have produced, shared these concerns, saying that AI could “spell the end of the human race”. If we lose control of just one AI and it decides that the best way to fulfill its programming is to end the human race, we may find it very hard to stop.
AI are hugely beneficial for our businesses, healthcare systems and education, but they carry a danger of higher unemployment, increased laziness, and possibly the end of the human race altogether. Their advantages of artificial intelligence may currently numerically outweigh their disadvantages, but is it as simple as having more advantages is better?
When prominent scientists are warning of the dangers of AI, and even home assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana are being suspected of violating our privacy rights, there’s a fine balance between AI being useful and AI causing problems. As with all new technologies, we must be careful to keep control of them and use them for our benefit as much as possible to avoid causing problems for future generations.