In today’s culture, we are managing ourselves less and less and relying more and more on technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants. A perfect example of this is Alexa created by Rohit Prosad. In a 2018 article found on businesstoday.com, Prasad said, “Another important reason for adoption of Alexa is the wide array of intents she can understand and respond to, revolutionizing daily convenience such as accessing and playing music, books, and videos, controlling smart devices in the home, communicating with friends and family, shopping, setting reminders, or getting information you need.” I would agree that Alexa is very helpful to some people on the homefront. For example, take the home cook who also works full-time outside the home. Alexa can remove a huge amount of stress and responsibility for the preparation of the evening meal since the AI will act just like a servant who is always at home and waiting for your command. Alexa’s remote access capability allows the busy home cook to call from work and say, “Hey, Alexa, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.” And then, tens of miles away, the home cook’s oven begins to heat by itself even though she has yet to return home from work. When she does arrive, a ready-to-go oven is waiting for her.
These AIs are just so amazing and helpful when it comes to the homefront. People love to use them, and therefore, they are everywhere. The ability to find information and command activity is at our fingertips or at the sound of our voices, on our phones, in our kitchens, and beside our beds! As more AI is introduced into our homes, the more control and monitoring we will have of our daily lives. The bright side of this is that the AI can learn more about your schedule and then serve you better. They will know what time you’ll be home, what you like to do the most on the weekends, and so on. We are letting these little assistants in those little boxes learn more about and engage more and more into our private lives.
There are actually many users who support the existence of AI in our society. They think that AI will not take over our world and take away our jobs. For example, Evan Horowitz, Director of Communication at FCLT Global (a financial think tank), says, “In a world of invading robots, you’d expect to see an epidemic of unemployed workers – but right now the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low.” And if there’s no AI, the advances in technology will be impacted greatly. These supporters of AI believe there is no threat to our society and AI assistants increase the conveniences in our daily lives. While no one can really deny the benefits of advances in technology, I am still somewhat afraid of the future of AI. And I find that I am not alone.
My question is this: Is AI really going to be for the purpose of helping us and making our lives easier, or is it going to be harmful? AI assistants, such as Alexa, are being used in our homes more and more, and so we are choosing to hand over more control of our homes and our privacy. Is it really safe to hand this control to some robot and thousands of lines of code? For example, a recent news story on wired.com reported that “…its autopilot feature was turned on when a Model X SUV slammed into a concrete highway lane divider and burst into flames…the driver died shortly afterward.” Clearly, computers do make mistakes regardless of how many conveniences they provide for us.
In my opinion, computers are indeed fast, but not as smart and flexible as humans. Although the engineers of AI state that their product can learn from its mistakes, they are not like us. AI cannot make decisions based on common sense and emotion. Computers really can’t think on their own. When they are asked to do a certain task, they won’t think about why they are doing it or think about the consequences of their actions.
Therefore, I believe it is too risky to give so much control to AI. I think that before it is too late, we should add some kind of control features when we create these auto-controlled devices. I don’t believe that creating these control features would be the massacre of technology. Instead, it would be a perfect opportunity for all of us to pay more attention to AI and to create a better and safer future for all of us who are relying more and more on technology.