Artificial intelligence creates more problems than benefits. Discuss

Author: Chirin Soh
School: Raffles Institution
Year Written: 2020
Grade: A

Artificial Intelligence has only grown exponentially in its capabilities in the last few years with the rise of self-driving cars, voice recognition softwares that answer to our every trivial question and pressing demand, as well as robots equipped with paint brushes and palettes creating masterpieces resembling that of trained artists. The idea of robots and Artificial Intelligence overtaking Mankind may not actually be merely science fiction with their superior ability to process information, perform challenging tasks at high speed and efficiency, and even innovate. This has incited fears that Artificial intelligence will steal the jobs of many and eventually take over the world. It is easy to dismiss Artificial intelligence as being more problematic than artificial. However, I believe such fears were blown out of proportion. The benefits that Artificial intelligence has brought about in enhancing efficiency of work, solving global issues and enhancing the quality of life greatly outweighs the problems created.

Artificial intelligence has the ability to analyse large amounts of data in a short span of time, thus enhancing efficiency of workforces and creating benefits for corporations in the form of cost savings. A common application of artificial intelligence is chatbots found on websites of many companies. They are used to answer questions by customers and can reduce the job of employees doing customer service as standard queries can be answered by the AI. Using AI and machine learning, systems can test hundreds of mathematical models of production and outcome possibilities. This helps in enhancing precision in their analysis while adapting to new information such as new product introductions, supply chain disruptions or sudden changes in demand. Artificial intelligence is also employed by in reports such as what products are selling fastest and are most popular. Through the analysis of large data, it can confirm the impacts of marketing campaigns on product sales, break down the costs of a new packaging choice or shipping method, and much more. Filing reports manually is a painstaking task, and trying to rush through the process could cause mistakes. The combination of AI with big data analytics brings better forecasts and takes the burdens off the people who prepare the reports. It also helps conquer the inevitability of mistakes. The error margin in machines is very low whilst even the most careful people make blunders often because of mental fatigue.

Artificial intelligence has also brought immense benefits to resolving global issues from its abilities to analyse data at a fast speed. For example, AMP Robotics in Colarado and TOMRA are bringing relief to the global issue of plastic waste by employing smart robots for recycling. The robots are equipped with sensors and vision systems fortified with machine learning software. In recycling facilities, they speed up the rate at which incoming items are sorted, identified and then processed. SamurAI, developed by Machinex uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify objects on a conveyor belt. It can recognize recyclables such as cartons, plastic bottles, and containers. After the robot identifies the object, it uses a suction cup to pick it up and place it into the correct bin. Compared to human workers, SamurAI is more efficient. Manual picking usually involves 35 picks per minute, while this sorting robot can perform up to 70 picks every minute. This helps the firm to contribute more to preserving the Earth and providing innovative as well as environmentally responsible waste and recycling solutions. Other examples of artificial intelligence to resolve this global issue of waste is the Bin-e smart trash can that is equipped with a camera and sensors. It relies on machine learning to detect and identify the waste that has been thrown in it. After it recognizes the object, it will direct the item into the right chamber. When the chambers are full, it will notify the maintenance team to take the trash to the recycling plant. Every time someone throws an item into the bin, its computer system will collect information such as the brand and quantity of items and the data will be automatically uploaded to the cloud. The team at Bin-e believes their innovation could reduce Europe’s waste issue, since out of 213 million tons of waste produced every year in Europe, only 30% is recycled. Hence, it is evident that Artificial intelligence is being employed in innovative ways to solve complex global issues.

Artificial intelligence also comes with higher accuracy and precision that can benefit industries requiring them, and bring about improvements to the quality of life. In the healthcare sector, accuracy is especially crucial for surgical techniques or recognising cancerous tissue. Professionals tend to have 20-30% false negatives, and false positive are also common. Artificial intelligence can help to counter this. By leverage on machine-learning algorithms and expose them to more data, hidden patterns can be unearthed to improve the accuracy of medical tests. Merantix, a research lab, currently applies deep learning to detect lymph nodes in human body in CT image. This is cheaper than if done manually and can be applied to real patients to identify to some extent if someone is at risk of carcigonic lymph nodes. In addition, robots with AI are increasingly assisting in microsurgical procedures to reduce surgeon variations that can affect patient recovery. Deepmind is working with National Health Service to ensure doctors and nurses are in the right place at the right time. It identifies patients with urgent needs and have helped to reduce mortality rates. Artificial intelligence also helps in developing new drugs. Pfizer, a leading biopharmaceutical company, uses IBB Watson, a system that has machine learning to power its search for immuno-oncology drugs. Another team from AI pharma startup Insilico Medicine took just 46 days to identify a potential drug with the help of AI. This ushers in an era of quicker, cheaper and more effective drug discoveries, bring in benefits to society.

However, the abuse of Artificial Intelligence when it falls into the wrong hands can bring about more problems as it can programmed for disruption of society. AI can pose a security risk to society if programmed for violence and destruction. It can be programmed to kill and can cause mass casualties. It may also not be able to be turned off if humans lose control of the machine’s capabilities. Ethical issues may also arise on who is responsible for the casualties. Currently, Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm is a form of AI and misues personal data of identified individuals to spread propaganda. It can be considered a form of social manipulation and has influenced election outcomes as well as affected geopolitics. This shows how AI can be used by power hungry politicians to further their political agenda through manipulation and deception. On a large scale, the fate of the whole nation will be at stake. A notable example is that of Cambrdige Analytica, British consulting firm that made use of algorithms with AI to harvest data of thousands of Facebooks profiles for Trump’s presidential election in 2016. It learnt their political leanings and had targeted advertisements on their newsfeeds to manipulate their beliefs. This may have swung votes and undermined the democracy of the system. Artificial intelligence is also feared to cause the widespread losses of jobs since seemingly menial tasks can be easily carried out at a much faster speed with AI. This would hit the labour market hard, especially more routine occupations that involve repetitive and thus easily codified tasks. Routine-based tasks in factories or retail stores may be replaced by AI which can recognise, sort and organise items at faster speed. New problems of unemployment or widening income gap may arise with artificial intelligence.

In conclusion, advancements in artificial intelligence will continue to improve and become more integrated with our daily lives. As Stephen Hawking once said, “Artificial Intelligence is likely to either be the best or worst thing to happen to humanity.” I hold firm to the belief that problems created by Artificial Intelligence can be circumvented with proper regulations by government and international bodies. Corporations also have a duty to stop the misuse of this cutting-edge technology. At the same time, we should adapt to the changes that it can bring and embrace the many benefits that it has.