Ever since the beginning of artificial intelligence, people have feared that they will one day take over the world. Stories of millions of unrelenting, unfeeling robots dominating the world and enslaving humans have run rampant across our culture. However, that bleak future may not be what is actually in store for mankind.
Artificial intelligence is defined by Merriam Webster as a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers and the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. By looking at the definition alone, it is clear that artificial intelligence can do nothing more than imitate, not surpass.
It may seem like AI is taking over. After all, BBC estimates that up to 20 million factory jobs will be replaced with machines by 2030, and MIT found that in Europe, 1,000 people’s jobs were replaced with just 1 robot.
However, the truth is that AI is not taking over our society. While AI may be able to take over some jobs in different industries, they cannot completely replace people and will always need people to continue to function. AI lacks several qualities humans have that are necessary in some parts of the workforce. For example, the ability to relate and talk to a person with a brain rather than an algorithm, no matter how realistic, is crucial in a society where devices are now ubiquitous. Technology has permeated our culture, making face to face, human interaction all the more necessary.
A major reason for this is because of AI’s lack of several human qualities that are needed for more personal jobs such as the following:
- AI cannot feel emotion. While AI may be able to deal with issues in a humanlike way, they are not able to feel emotions like compassion, sympathy, or understanding. This means that jobs such as therapists or others requiring emotion are still best done by compassionate and empathetic humans instead of AI algorithms.
- AI cannot create. AI cannot innovate or invent something new. They are machines, after all, and can follow a set of guidelines and rules precisely while simulating humanoid intelligence, but they cannot innovate and create something. To use a cliche, AI can think remarkably well inside a box, but they cannot think outside of one. There are AI that can create music and write stories and poems. But according to the engineering and applied sciences professional organization IEEE Spectrum, the way that AI creates poetry is by adding existing poems to their database and then trying to write lines that match with the poem. While AI does create rudimentary poetry using this method, the process is very arbitrary and cannot compare with the quality of a human poem made with thought, heart, and soul. For example, the content of the AI poem may be inconsistent or not be as deep as that of the human poem since the AI was just playing mix-and-match.
- AI cannot provide human contact. The importance of human contact can be seen through numbers. According to Forbes, 55% of customers prefer speaking to a human rather than a robot and 73% press “0” and speak with an operator when faced with a phonetree, which is a type of robocall where you press numbers to reach different services.
- AI cannot be unique. An article from Springboard says that AI cannot learn the way that a person does with personalized techniques that are uniquely their own. This means that the information processed by two different AI robots will be outputted in basically the same way, while two humans processing the same information may output it completely differently.
Additionally, it’s interesting to note that the way that computers learn versus how people learn are practically opposites. Both will utilize perceptual, communicative, and cognitive abilities. An in-depth project by the Office of the Direction of National Intelligence has found that people learn in the following process: first perceptual, then communicative, and finally cognitive abilities. Meanwhile, computers learn first with cognitive intelligence, then communicative, and finally perceptual. The implications of this for how AI cannot be like humans and thus cannot replace them remain to be seen.
AI will not replace us in the future. Yes, it is able to take some jobs, but those are monotonous jobs that people shouldn’t be wasting their time and talents on. In fact, robots are merely a tool that humanity can use to free us of the tedious work so that we can advance beyond. A useful tool yes, but a tool nonetheless. AI is important towards our future, but in the sense that it will help us, not destroy us.