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Is Artificial Intelligence a danger to us?

Jamila Farouk -

Many argue that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is humanity’s biggest threat. This has generated a growing fear on the use of AI.

There are things that are easy for machines to do but very difficult for humans to do and vice versa. It’s easy for machines to make sense of vast amount of information. This is as a result of incredible computer power and algorithms humans provide. Machines can make sense of a lot of knowledge that our limited brains cannot assimilate. On the contrary, there are also things that are very easy for humans to do but difficult for machines. An example is figuring how to manipulate an object if a machine has never seen it before especially physical ones like robots.

Even with these differences, the complementary nature that exists between humans and machines allows collaboration in a synergistic way that makes life better.

The world is generating more data than ever. However, in Africa there is the need to shift ways of harnessing data. Africa needs its own narrative to engage in decision making for development and this is where my passion lies. I am particularly interested in advancing the data revolution in Africa by utilizing AI. AI is great at making statistical guesses based on enormous data sets although it has no real understanding of the tasks performed. Humans apply insights from data to improve the quality of life. For example, smart sensors are used in healthcare to track and interpret health conditions as well as the use of drones in transporting medical aid to remote sites quickly and safely. Additionally, educational resources have become widespread with the introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and advanced mechanics in agriculture and so much more.

AI-Artificial Intelligence

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For many individuals, advancement in AI raises some ethical concerns such as singularity, security issues and prominently, the displacement of jobs. To comment on these I believe advancement in AI comes with unintended consequences and a greater responsibility. In reference to job displacement, I have no doubt it will replace workers. It will also provide new forms of employment. A typical example was the introduction of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM). The role of bank tellers has not become redundant. Rather bank operations have skyrocketed. Employees' roles have shifted to more complex tasks. In the long run, more locations were opened leading to an increase in the total number of banking jobs. The concern here should be the access to constant education and training. There should be a system of education to re-skill individuals to take on the new roles AI presents.

From my perspective, human intelligence and AI, complement each other. The future is a collaboration of human and artificial intelligence. Humans and AI will work productively and more efficiently to make the world a better place.

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