Ruth Aman: Artificial intelligence – the new ruler of the free world
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the new ruler of the free world
by Ruth Aman
Over the last few months, we have seen a rapid increase in AI integration within social media and technology. Things that could’ve been only dreamed of (and other things no one had ever thought of) are now a reality. Undeniably a great step for mankind, but what has it cost humanity, and what will it cost in the future?
What exactly is AI?
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. Though many may think it is a 21st-century development, it’s actually been in existence for over 70 years. In early 1950, British mathematician Alan Turing, known as the man who broke the Nazi Enigma Code during World War II, developed the ideas for artificial intelligence. Essentially he believed that if humans could appeal to the available information known in society to make decisions, so could computers and systems. As time passed, computers and systems become advanced enough to carry out this reality based on his hypothesis.
AI, your helper
Now, AI is used for many things. Healthcare systems have become more effective in their work as it has improved medical diagnosis, especially Cancer diagnosis, advanced targeted treatment and operated as great administrator help by organizing data and records. In other sectors such as customer service, AI has been the voice of customer support providing immediate and accurate assistance to people in need of answers. As of this point, there’s no area that hasn’t been conquered by AI.
Recently, chatboxes such as ChatGPT have assisted students in writing essays, answering complex math or science questions, and giving summaries of readings necessary for their classes. And who can fault these students when they live in a society built upon the premise of the saying, ‘work smarter, not harder’? The irony comes when teachers and professors also implement AI to see if students have submitted AI-generated assignments. That being said, the argument is not whether AI is good or bad, it’s actually whether should there be limits in accessibility to it. Unfortunately, finding an answer to this question is something that we will not be able to answer anytime soon.
Life is always full of surprises and when it comes to the unknown, we are better informed and prepared when we look to the past. However, with the introduction and rapid expansion of AI, we are unable to look back to the past. So how can we actually prepare without being too late?
AI, your friend
An interesting addition came this April when Snapchat released its own AI chatbox. Youth all over the world have already engaged with this chatbox and have flooded apps such as Instagram and Tiktok with pictures of their conversation with ‘their AIs’.
In Canada, statistics show that more than 80% of Snapchat users are those aged 13-24.
What are the dangers of giving young teenagers easy access to artificial intelligence? Not only is there the legal issue of privacy and rights as minors, but there’s also a psychological and emotional aspect to this as well. What is the purpose of creating a chatbot on an app meant for messaging and sharing images with close friends? It seems as if AI is going beyond its borders, going from our helper to now our friend.
What would the consequences be if a generation of youth began to have ‘friendships’ with artificial intelligence? If AI becomes the ‘imaginary friend’ that we once had in our childhood, not only would it cause serious implications for relationships, but also detrimental implications for the development of youth. Emotional dependence upon artificial intelligence would lead to increased rates of isolation, fewer skills of socialization, and youth learning to disregard actual human intelligence, such as the wisdom of their friends, families, teachers, and mentors.
When I was younger, something that my parents use to scold me for was watching a lot of Youtube. They would say to me, ‘You are here watching videos and wasting your time, while they are getting paid because of your viewing! Why don’t you make videos yourself!’ To which I would simply shrug off because they just didn’t get it.
How does this relate to AI?
Well, people have used their imagination and creativity and have limited us in our creativity and imagination due to our reliance on these technologies. We must be realistic about the effect of artificial intelligence and truly analyze whether it has added to our own personal skillset/abilities or taken away from it. These systems have been seen as the catalyst in pushing us from the ‘stone age’ but it is unquestionable that this has come at the expense of valuable knowledges, practices, and skills we once valued as a society.
Unfortunately, what we can only conclude now is that it’s too soon to really say anything. We haven’t yet seen the capability of AI and we haven’t yet seen the totality of dependence of man.
Ruth Aman is a Project Officer with Black History Ottawa. She holds a Bachelor of Global and International Studies (Honors) degree, with a specialization in Law and Social Justice from Carleton University.