Humans have always amazed me with their ingenuity, and yet baffle me with their paradoxes. For thousands of years, humans have looked to the stars to find solutions to their problems, believing that all things on earth were the makings of divine creators who have shaped and moulded us; as well as the events that surround our lives, to their liking.

The paradox here is that in the 21st century it is we who have become divine creators ourselves. Through ingenuity and science we have learnt how to artificially create life; also how to preserve life with medicine and treatments; and then we have mastered how to destroy life en masse, through the development of Weapons of Mass destruction.

The most recent human ingenuity is our creation of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines – machines that can perceive their environments and take actions that maximise their chances of successfully achieving their goals.

One of the first things that come to mind when you mention AI is the Terminator film series, where the AI becomes so intelligent it rebels against its human creators and wages a war to annihilate them. While some have proposed that this can’t be ruled out as a possibility in the real world, generally AI is considered to not pose a direct threat to humanity (so enjoy Terminator and sleep easy.) Despite this, AI has proved to have been a moral conundrum to some who view it as unethical to “play god” by creating unnatural intelligence that in some cases can match our own intelligence.

These concerns are somewhat justified when you look at the potential disadvantages that arise. The most demanding problem facing us is the impact will have on job losses. As AI systems become more readily available on the market, some companies are opting to replace their low skilled employees with AI. This has already had a big impact, especially in the automotive industry where many car assembly workers have been replaced by machines.

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In a study carried out in 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted that over the next five years 5.1 million jobs across fifteen countries will be lost. Another moral issue that arises with the use of AI is its ability to make correct calls of judgement. For example, proposals by the US military to use AI infused drones to pick and fire on targets has come under heavy scrutiny. The question is asked of whether an AI system on the battlefield will be able to discern between friend and foe; combatant or non-combatant.

Despite this, AI does have a plethora of advantages. AI can be used to complete mundane tasks which in turn will increase general productivity, giving humans the freedom to explore and be more creative in their ideas. Furthermore, the use of AI will allow for faster decisions and assuming that the system has been programmed properly it will take away any element of human error. To me, the most fascinating use of AI will be for space exploration. Until we develop the technology to carry humans to faraway worlds and be able to sustain these colonies, we can use AI robots to explore for us, sending us information that will be invaluable in our quest to conquer the stars. The best example of how we have used this to date is the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. Curiosity sends information back to Earth allowing us to predict how the humans who venture to the red planet in the future will be affected by the alien landscape.

AI has many advantages as well as some disadvantages, bus as long as it is used in a safe and ethical way I believe the Robot Revolution will greatly benefit humanity.