AI is so hot right now, but it’s also super complicated and controversial. While industry executives bemoan the high cost of entry, workers are afraid that artificial intelligence programs will evolve consciousness that rivals that of humans, and eventually take all the jobs. But don’t fret yet: most experts agree that there is no replacement for human consciousness — the threat is all in your head.
Cognitive neuroscientist Anil Seth used his recent TED Talk to assert that “consciousness has less to do with pure intelligence and more to do with our nature as living and breathing organisms.’ Our outer consciousness depends on our brain’s ability to function as a prediction engine, and our collective ability as a society to agree upon a shared definition of reality, which directly reflects our physical, living state. “All our conscious experiences … stem from the basic drive to stay alive,” Seth said. “We experience the world in ourselves, with, through, and because of our living bodies.”
Meanwhile, the barrier of entry into the AI industry is so high that its progress is entirely dependent upon a very small (and expensive) pool of (very human) PhDs. New technologies can’t go mainstream without sufficient talent, so big names including AT&T, Clarifai, IBM and UC Berkley are developing simpler tools that will enable non-experts to leverage machine learning to develop their own programs. The applications are endless, from image recognition and customer service, to suturing wounds and planting trees. Per Fast Company: “This not only helps the technology keep growing, but by preserving and even creating new jobs, it could also be the key to assuaging human fears about the prospect of killer robots—or at the very least, career-killing robots.”
Now that we’ve got that pesky robots-taking-our-job issue out of the way, we feel much better about Forbes’ prediction that AI will “radically change the PR industry in a positive way.” By leveraging real-time data about target audiences’ opinions and online behavior, we’ll be able to show you guys exactly what you’re looking for — or at least things you find cool, not annoying. Everyone wins!
Next stop: mind control… but until then, we’ll keep using emojis to pull at your heartstrings…