Artificial Intelli-gence and Curiosity

Artificial Intelli- gence and Curiosity

Could Artificial Intelligence Become as Curious about Us as We Are about It?

While we wear our diagonally-zipped silver suits and abandon our daily meals for protein pills, we relax in our gadget-filled homes that are managed by robots, automated to vacuum our carpets, draw our curtains and water our plants. Welcome to the 21st century, based on the hopes and dreams of many who lived in the 1960s and ‘70s, who were curious about the future. During the heyday of the nuclear age and the plastics revolution, and at the commercial dawn of the silicon chip and microprocessor, robots were being installed in many manufacturing plants, efficiently streamlining the production of cars and appliances without the risk of human error, accidents or other issues that could delay production. Many believed that at the end of the last century all our lives would be dominated by robots, igniting an age of excitement and optimism, fear and angst: affordable goods, less jobs, technological advancements, and the threat of artificial intelligence, AI, taking over the world – and maybe our minds. Could our curiosity in technology eventually lead to our downfall as a species? 

Human vs. Machine

Although the futuristic worlds of Space: 1999, The Bionic Woman and Blake 7 never materialised, the technological changes that did occur during the last fifty years have been incredible and we are now dependent on electrical machines, telecommunication devices and digital technology for many daily tasks and activities. Just like the manufacturing sector, which was transformed by robotics four decades ago, an industry that is expected to change during the incoming years is the financing and investment sector. This is due to the anticipated introduction of AI, a prediction that has captivated the curiosity of the modern generation and stirs contemporary emotions according to what future may hold. The machine-intelligence system called Emma AI, for example, which was designed by Shaunak Khire who leads Stealth, a data and finance firm, has been developed to enable automated investment, a move that paves the way for an alternative approach to the expert intuition provided by white collar experts. 

Yet can AI better the knowledge and skills of the human workforce? During May this year, Emma AI was put to the test by Sarah O’Conner, a journalist at the Financial Times. Journalist and artificial entity were both instructed to write an article about employment in the UK, which was to be submitted to the editor on completion. Both articles contained accurate facts, although Emma was the fastest, completing the task in just 12 minutes, while the human counterpart took 35 minutes. However, the article composed by O’Conner succeeded in incorporating not only relevant facts and figures but also interesting and intriguing information that would engage an audience, such as commenting that the number of jobseekers had increased for the first time in 12 months, which Emma AI failed to acknowledge. It is unlikely that Emma AI will be employed by major newspapers just yet, although the current developments in AI are starting to ignite the curiosity among specialists in the industry about the future of journalism. 

Curiosity in the Unknown

Today, the Associated Press employs Automated Insights, a programme that reliably writes basic review outcomes for corporations, and there are hopes that AI will soon be able to generate simple company reports that can be tweaked by humans to help engage the reader, which will free up time for writers to focus on larger and more important works. In China, the curiosity in AI has led companies such as Baidu to heavily investing in AI to increase the power of search engines, a move that aims to outcompete Western counterparts. Even so, not everyone is so optimistic. In the UK, experts at the Science and Technology Committee want to establish a commission to investigate the ethical, societal and legal ramifications of the projected developments in AI and the associated threats to human jobs. The committee states that AI must be designed, controlled and directed by humans and that it is the job of the human race to ensure that AI is for the common good of humanity. Such a move would require adapting the national education and training systems to ensure both the opportunities and demands that can be provided by AI to the changing workforce are regulated. In other words, to strengthen society and improve the everyday lives of the population. 

So will our future curiosities in the financial sector be challenged by AI? Well probably not for now, or at least not in the near future. Modern AI technology provides narrow functions and specific roles. Voice-recognition and mastering popular board games are skills that have been learned by AI, both of which are restricted to definite tasks. This be as it may, the rapid rate of research and development indicates that the rate of AI advancement will increase and diversify at a faster rate in the near future; already, the Google-owned company, DeepMind, aims to develop an artificial hippocampus – the sea horse tail-shaped region in the midbrain that is thought to be responsible for human memory. With the risks and errors that are part and parcel of the human existence, it is very possible that the rapid development and inevitable diversification of AI could soon outcompete human creativity, vision and resourcefulness. It is unknown whether the circuitry that enables Emma AI to function will replace our own neural networks, yet likelihood that our finance and services industries will be managed by an assemblage of androids, just like our modern manufacturing sectors are automated, could indeed be an ensuing possibility.

This piqued my curiosity!