Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been in headlines for the last several years as its application, and the growth of its potential application, has seen huge leaps with each quarter.

Every day there’s new research exploring machine learning and how companies like Facebook are using AI-powered algorithms to determine the relevancy of ads served. There are also medical breakthroughs where doctors are able to use AI to diagnose diseases in a faster and more cost-efficient way. Much of the news sounds amazing, but as with many discoveries, there is another side to the coin.

The Fear Concerning Artificial Intelligence

Luminaries like Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawkins have sounded a warning about the need to be extra cautious concerning the development of AI. Their reasoning is far from the apocalypse of Terminator 2 where robot armies are killing humans, but the genuine threat of AI surpassing humans in intelligence and complex thinking. The machine learning algorithms we deploy today may one day out think us.

In an interview, Musk stated, “As AI gets probably much smarter than humans, the relative intelligence ratio is probably similar to that between a person and a cat, maybe bigger.” The prospect of being made analogous to a house pet can be scary. It comes with the understanding that intelligence confers dominance. The fact that some of the largest companies on the globe, like Google Deep Mind, are racing to create AI which can think quicker than we can, could be a cause for concern.

This rushed approach is what has caused so many to worry. Our eagerness to deploy new technology may overtake the need for caution. Not understanding what boundaries we set may lead to danger.

The Research Needed and the Actual Limits of AI

When discussing AI, Physicist Max Erik Tegmark said, “When we got fire and messed up with it, we invented the fire extinguisher. When we got cars and messed up, we invented the seat belt, airbag, and traffic light. But with nuclear weapons and A.I., we don’t want to learn from our mistakes. We want to plan ahead.” This has been the call that many, including groups like the Future of Life Institute, have made in order to curb what might be the threat of AI.

Like a hammer or most other tools, AI at this point is neutral. Its effect depends on who wields technology. It’s also held back by the limits of being a machine. AI doesn’t have emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ as it’s sometimes called, is what separates us from AI. It’s the ability to recognize our emotions and the emotions of others and to use that understanding to guide us and help us adapt to different environments. The multiple jobs and daily tasks that require this ability will keep us ahead of AI, even as it gains ground on our computational capabilities.

Uniquely Human

AI is on the verge of a breakthrough. Actually, it’s on the verge of several breakthroughs. As the topic continues to cover fill-up the headlines we’re learning every day that AI is helping to enhance every aspect of our lives. Our job is to steer this tool in the right direction and use it to make the world better.

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