Sunday, July 9, 2017

Artificial Intelligence is coming? Let's not loose our human touch.

So many see now that AI is coming and jump up scared that the robots will take away jobs and leave good people homeless and hungry in the streets. 

First, this is not new. The Ludites fought against machines too. Nobody in their right mind would want those pre industrial revolution days back. Jobs were created. Many of them. New categories of them in an ever accelerated fashion. 

Second, AI has been here for a long time already. It is present even when we don't see it. Moreover, we depend on it for so many things that many have not even seen it for decades, but it's been there helping us do things we otherwise wouldn't know how to anymore. Remember VCRplus? But are we thinking Auto mode on your Nikon DSLR, with all its 51 focus points? Anyone wants to start measuring all the light on all of those one by one with an exponometer? To monitor in real time all the sensors of their vehicle, from electronic injection to airbag deployment? OK, maybe those robots are not that scary. Yet. Let's wait and see;)

Third, we have human characteristics that are hard to replace and we've lost some of them already. Empathy and compassion are human traits that should not go away ever. Yet they already play tricks on us, when only computers and not full AI help us in our work.

4. Let's embrace things of the future in partnership with AI while we stay human and may even return to being more human than what we've become lately. Let's not ever loose our human side in the overwhelming dependency on AI but that we partner with AI looking ahead so that we stay and become more human with its help, and not even less, as we have already built in a lot of this dehumanizing uncaring. 

After all, "Our computers are down so you can't see the doctor because I can't schedule you to see him" is something that happened for real twenty+ years ago. 

So you sit and wonder what was the doctor doing... And whatever happened to a pen and paper appointment book? You know, for life threatening emergencies...

The nurse in the story was still human. Was she mis-programmed?;) Are some of us sometimes already mis-programmed? A lot of us, after all, may be. Before the end of today 25000+ people would have died of hunger. Will AI start to help us feel better human feelings and think better to come up with solutions to this issue?

Or we're ready to trash fellow humans simply because we don't see the bigger issues out of fear for our own self?

Let's remember that for every case the new guy, Watson, fixes, from grapes to airplanes to taxes, there have been already hundreds of thousands of misses of the kind described above, when humanity left us because the computers were down or they don't let us do what we know we should...

Let's fight to stay human. While we use innovation to be more human. Not less. 

Adrian S. Petrescu, Ph.D., J.D.

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