Artificial Intelligence

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Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence


A debate about the social impact of creating intelligent machines has occupied many organizations and individuals over the past decades. Since many of the early science fiction speculations and predictions from the late 19th century through to the 1960's have already become reality there is no reason to assume that robots and intelligent machines will not happen. We are already living in that era's future, experiencing a golden age of technology, with no end, or limit, in sight. (Yudkowsky, E. 2002)

The moral and ethical implications of artificial intelligences are obvious and there are three sides to the argument. While one party argues that there are already too many of us living in poverty without work there is little or no reason to create mechanical laborers (that can think independently). And that we certainly should not create machines that can argue with us about such issues.


Since the introduction of automation in industry (the first major automation was achieved on weaving looms, and its opponents were called luddites) there has been an understandable fear of the introduction of technology. Automated looms were designed to do the same job as the weavers. Thousands of workers lost their jobs when these machines were introduced. More recently the introduction (from 1980) of automated tellers has displaced thousands of jobs in the banking industry. (Yudkowsky, E. 2002)

Labour-intensive heavy industries were quick to adopt robotic technologies in the interests of perceived efficiencies, safety and economy. Robots can work round the clock, are easier to repair, don't get sick and don't require staff amenities. Replacing people with robots was seen as a way of reducing labour costs, workers' compensation and union influence. The replacement of people by automated systems contributes to unemployment in society, especially for the most disadvantaged group - unskilled workers - which can result in long-term unemployment.

Robots have also created new jobs directly and can create wealth, leading to the development of new industries and jobs.

Society will soon face a crossroads. Advancing technology has already enabled us to glimpse into the inner workings of the brain. What will we do with this knowledge when it allows us to control and to duplicate the very processes that give birth to the mind How will people respond to intelligent robots when they become as cheap and pervasive as modern-day household appliances? How should these technologies be best applied to serve humanity? (Yudkowsky, E. 2002)

There is no doubt that this and other new technologies will have far-reaching - even revolutionary - impact on the way we live our everyday lives. Intelligent agents to maximize work productivity, expert systems to analyze massive amounts of data, and household robots to complete tasks and provide companionship and interaction-these are but a few of the potential applications that are already invading the marketplace. Decreasing costs and industry competition will spur the onset of an era in which our digital counterparts hold increasing importance in our everyday lives. These changes are already ...
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