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    Artificial Intelligence: Friend or Foe
    by bml-blog January 15, 2016

    For a substantial amount of time Artificial Intelligence or “Cognitive Computing” was a concept that provided much needed fodder for science fiction writers. Founded in the mid-1950s, AI went mainstream in 2015; tech experts recognised that AI based technologies were the next major disruptor when it came to enterprise software.

    But the entire notion of Artificial Intelligence and how it’s gaining rapid momentum is creating a lot of buzz, especially among scientists and innovators. People taking sides and contemplating the pros and cons of AI and how it will affect the future of human-machine interface is currently a hot topic of debate. The AI optimists clearly believe that “Technological Singularity” as predicted by Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s leading inventor, thinker, and futurist will take place by 2045. To shed some light on what Technological Singularity means, Ray Kurzweil defines this phenomenon as “a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself”.

    Such predictions are judged by many to paint a false picture of complacency among us. The AI pessimists, on the other hand, believe that such advances will ultimately lead to large scale violence, strife and possibly divide the human race into factions.

    Moving away from such grim renditions of the future, on a positive note, Artificial Intelligence is not all about gloom and doom. The aim of AI innovators is to develop intelligent systems that can make life simpler for us. The idea of intelligent automata aiding humans in their day to day lives and evidence of such intelligence being utilised by us is now definitely closer to home. Today more and more companies are using AI in their products. Google is the most common company name that pops up in our head. Let us take the examples of Siri, Cortana, and Google app all these programmes are used by millions and act as a sort of digital assistant. Going by their example, it is but inevitable that technology will increasingly take on personal roles in people’s daily lives by learning and analysing human behaviour and needs. There is a strong growing focus on cognitive solutions related to areas such as innovation that in turn will transform industries. IBM recently came out with patents that will help machines to understand emotions and learn from us.

    AI as described in films like Ex Machina, Transcendence, and most importantly the Terminator series are reflections of our fear of the unknown. We fear what we cannot fathom. AI is playing a significant role in various spheres. Hospitals are now using machine learning technologies to understand which patients are at high risk of complications. AI is also opening the possibility of discovering new drugs. Researchers have developed AI algorithms that help find key information from massive data haystacks. Summing it up, AI is being used for the greater good of people.

    Yet, we might as well ask ourselves a simple question. In the long run, is Artificial Intelligence our friend or foe?

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