Droid takeover

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Droid takeover

AI improves life for sure but robot development shouldn’t be a monopoly business

The transcendent potential of artificial intelligence, or AI as we know it, is indeed becoming a reality if not a Hollywoodian horror of futurism. Turns out that the media-savvy, humanoid robot Sophia, who made headlines a couple of months ago for being conferred a citizenship by Saudi Arabia no less, now wants to start a family and would name her kid eponymously. And she would make sure that she was ethical in her social behaviour. Scientists rejoiced that Sophia, who was developed to be an assistive and functional aid to humans based on cognitive ability, was beginning to process social behaviour patterns as observed and was using them as input for her reactions. And from self-admittedly wanting to eliminate humans at one time, she does not now find them too bad and is mainstreaming herself as a co-habitant. Though several scientists have predicted an AI takeover of the human race and their subsequent status as supra-intelligent inter-planetary travellers, Sophia’s smartness and wit have led developers to demand a collaborative space for perfecting bots. Sophia is already the subject of a crowd-funding campaign to take her artificial intelligence to the next level. With a collaborative space in development, robots could learn from each other by sharing their database and unique functions and sharpen their analytical abilities. And even if Sophia dismisses the threat of a highly evolved intelligence source completely making slaves out of humans and then annihilating their biological need to exist as an absurdity born of watching too many films, fact is humans are increasingly becoming dependent. There are critics and fans of the good versus evil debate, one that was ominously brought home by Sophia’s desire to breed and make ethical replicas. Does that mean man’s lessening morals demand a cleanup or replacement? Yet one cannot discount the virtues of AI in healthcare and complicated invasive procedures, finance and industrial processes. According to latest research, the AI industry is expected to grow from $233.8 billion in 2017 to $3.1 trillion in 2025. Some moderates feel that bot development should not be a monopoly business that could arise from having a single company controlling their rollout. They advocate a community-based system to define how AI robots will benefit users across the spectrum and to what extent they should get an upgrade. Already, there are protests over Sophia enjoying greater luxuries than women in Saudi Arabia, where she has been exempted from wearing the veil. Women indeed seem dehumanised by comparison, having just been allowed to drive in that country. To hype Sophia as a PR drill of technological revolution while the human condition itself begs attention is not ethical at all. While Sophie’s makers insist she is yet far away from human consciousness and is just “basically alive”, what gets lost in the din is that algorithms can be manipulated by power-hungry humans too. Time has come to draw a fine line.

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