Are we getting dumber? It’s a more relevant question than ever, considering today’s rapidly advancing technology. As AI and machine learning take over, sorry, become more integrated into our lives, some experts question whether our reliance on these technologies is making us a bit too dopey too quickly.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has already issued a stark warning, “The rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We must be super careful with AI; it is potentially far more dangerous than nukes.”
But before we all hit the panic button and set fire to our smartphones, let’s examine the facts. According to a University of Michigan study, people who use a variety of digital devices regularly are better at multitasking, processing information, and remembering “stuff”; in fact, they are 25% more likely to perform well on cognitive tests.
So, if, in that sense, at least, technology is making us smarter, why are some experts concerned about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on our brain power? It is mainly a fear that, as AI advances, it will reduce the number of jobs that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
But consider this: perhaps Artificial Intelligence isn’t here to replace us; it’s here to help us? “We can only see a short distance ahead, but there is plenty that needs to be done,” renowned computer scientist Alan Turing once said. AI can be part of that next stage by automating the mundane and repetitive, freeing up our time and energy for more critical tasks.
In one sense, AI could indeed advance and expose some of us to “technological unemployment,” that world where machines take over our jobs. But this scenario underplays another essential truth: AI isn’t inherently good or bad; it’s all about how it is used. When intelligence is appropriately applied, it has the full potential to augment our capability rather than replace it.
For example, educators can now use AI better to tailor learning experiences to the needs of individual students. This means that those pupils who previously fell behind can now receive the additional assistance they require to succeed.
Another case in point is in the field of medicine. AI is being used to analyze reams of medical data to assist in making more effective diagnoses and treatments.
As was often the case, Steve Jobs offers a compelling perspective: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” We can become leaders in a rapidly changing world if we embrace AI and use it to enhance our intelligence.
Furthermore, AI can help us be more efficient and productive at work, freeing up time for the things that matter more. According to AI pioneer Andrew Ng, “AI will create jobs, but it will also automate many existing ones. The question is not whether we will lose jobs, but what kinds of jobs we will lose and gain.”
All of this inclines us not to see AI as a threat to humanity but as more of an opportunity to improve our intelligence and lives. If we take the right approach, AI can better ourselves and the world.
This is a world where your car drives itself, allowing you to read a book or catch up on work during your commute. A world where a robot handles all your household chores, giving you more time to spend with your family. That is the world we want AI to help us build, a more accessible and enjoyable world.
Perhaps the key to the positivity we seek rests with reframing what is possible? According to a PwC study, AI could add $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, more than China and India’s current GDP combined. Every time a new technology is introduced, there is concern about the impact on jobs. Still, history has shown that new methods have always created new jobs and opportunities, many that we cannot yet imagine.
The same could be said about the concerns over AI’s impact on privacy and security. The specter of recent scandals such as Cambridge Analytica lies heavy on the mind. But again, let’s see this as a reminder to be cautious and take the necessary precautions to collaborate to develop policies that protect our privacy and security while still reaping the benefits of AI.
Put simply, AI is not here to replace us; it is here to help us and improve our lives to be more convenient, enjoyable, and efficient. That’s perhaps the essential thing that machines can teach us, the crucial difference between a threat and an opportunity…
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