Americans Will Adapt And Advance With Artificial Intelligence
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” said Cambridge University physicist, cosmologist and best-selling author Stephen Hawking, who passed away at the age of 76 on March 14.
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) has arrived and its impact on society is immeasurable. Roughly 84 percent of Americans are already using artificial intelligence, according to a survey conducted by Northeastern University and Gallup. Merriam-Webster defines artificial intelligence as “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.” Autonomous vehicles, proving mathematical theorems, online assistants, image recognition in photographs and spam filtering are five examples of such world-changing digital capabilities. Moreover, countless healthcare organizations are presently utilizing artificial intelligence to properly diagnose and treat patients.
Although established in 1956, artificial intelligence has rapidly expanded and evolved over the past decade alone and transformed how many companies conduct its business practices. Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Washington Post in January that artificial intelligence “touches every single one of our main projects, ranging from search to photos to ads … everything we do … it definitely surprised me, even though I was sitting right there.” Perhaps more than any other country, China is determined to dominate this field and become the industry’s leaders in it. In fact, in July 2017, China disclosed that it’s seeking to create a global artificial-intelligence industry worth $150 billion by 2030.
Robert O. Work, who served as the United States’ 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense from May 2014 until July 2017, has urged government officials to remain diligent and advance its artificial intelligence capacities. Work, who recently partnered with the Center for a New American Security and created Project Maven to enhance the United States’ artificial intelligence capabilities, contends that the upcoming years will prove to be pivotal ones and that our nation must compete with China’s efforts.
“The question is, how should the United States respond to this challenge (by China)?” Work told the New York Times on March 15. “This is a Sputnik moment.”
Regrettably for Work, and other high-ranking military and intelligence officials, many of Silicon Valley’s tech giants have been hesitant to work with the Pentagon in lieu of the Edward Snowden scandal in 2013. To combat resistance, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced in May 2016 that the Pentagon’s office in Silicon Valley was going to be dramatically overhauled and refined. Furthermore, Carter made it clear that all staff would report to him henceforth and he predicts that the brilliant minds at America’s largest internet companies will ultimately serve as advisors.
“I’m not expecting the technology world to be more like the Pentagon,” Carter told media after making his announcement. “And we’ll never be like a company because we have a very important mission and we represent the profession of arms. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn how the innovative world in Silicon Valley operates. I’m determined to learn that.”
Carter said that he’s already learned invaluable information from the technological heavyweights based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I think one of the things we learned from DIUx is that the Department of Defense is frequently not rapid and agile enough,” Carter said. “(Entrepreneurs will) “understand places in the Department of Defense where they secure funding for ideas that they think are relevant to defense.”
Beyond military efforts, many pundits and onlookers have expressed concern that artificial intelligence will reduce jobs and become a danger to humanity. Essentially, cynics believe that new artificial intelligence creations like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri will descend into monstrous robots resembling the ones seen in the “Terminator” movies. Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is one individual who is concerned about the future of computing.
“I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence,” Gates wrote.
“First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”
Referring to artificial intelligence as “summoning the demon,” Tesla founder Elon Musk echoed Gates’ worries during a discussion in October 2017 at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics department’s Centennial Symposium.
“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,” Musk said.
“If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out.”
Gates and Musk are ingenious technological figures and their thoughts shouldn’t be disregarded. Nevertheless, from Fortune 500 conglomerates to small upstarts, mankind has embraced groundbreaking digital solutions. Artificial intelligence is a reality and one that will continue to promote tremendous economic and social changes. Opponents of these technological advances should realize that, without humans, artificial intelligence is unintelligent. As Stephen Hawking said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” America will adapt to the nuances of artificial intelligence and this should ensure a more prosperous future.
– Colin Linneweber