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Artificial Intelligence – A Boon Or A Bane To Mankind?

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Humans are beings with intellect. We have constantly strived to make our lives easier by using machines or computers as per our benefit. There is no denying the fact that humans have limitations. Our thoughts and imagination are confined to a certain extent. This will to have a trouble-free and relaxing life gave birth to Artificial Intelligence. As we can infer, Artificial Intelligence is about building or developing intelligence, usually done by feeding huge amounts of data to the machine. In other words, the machine relies on Statistical earning. But imparting a ‘brain’ to the machine does not really solve the problem. At a very rudimentary level, machines equipped with Artificial Intelligence lack EQ (Emotional Quotient).

Imagine you are the CEO of a company and find out that one of the employees stole money from the company’s savings. You may think of firing the employee but may not do so thinking that he/she is the sole earning member in the family; the employee might be given a second chance. Had this decision been in the hands of a machine, it would have fired the person for sure. The machine thinks rationally, not humanly. It is only concerned with numbers, statistics, profits, and losses. Emotions and feelings are invisible to it. Indeed, a situation like this does pose as a threat. A mind stripped off of sentiments and warmth is of no use. This idea plucked my mental chords and made my creativity juices flow.

As a Computer Science major, here, at Purdue, I need to select tracks to specialize in. I would say, I have been fortunate enough to be good with numbers. Machine Learning, a subdiscipline of Artificial Intelligence, has its roots embedded in Statistics, Probability, and Data Analysis. In the past few years, data has been growing at a humongous rate. Thereby, accelerating the growth of Machine Learning. I believe success can be attained by polishing what you are good at. A field involving heavy Mathematical and Statistical analysis is tailor-made for me.

I realized this love for the field last year. Last semester, I was involved in Reach-Out-for-Computer-Science, a program devoted towards teaching high-school students basics of coding. I remember going to this high-school in Lafayette. The students were friendly and asked questions regarding the curriculum of Purdue Computer Science. I wasn’t surprised to hear a lot of them inquiring about the Machine Learning Track. Artificial Intelligence is a rage in the world of Computer Science. It has gained the much-needed momentum and might even dethrone Software Engineering as a popular field to work in. Coming back to the questions asked by these students, the way I answered them logically, with supporting examples, whilst igniting the flame of passion within them made me feel confident about myself. I was delighted to see those smiles of content and joy as I left. The discussion would not have been engaging had these students not known the impact and importance on Artificial Intelligence in our lives; this was the thread of commonality which tied us together.

Artificial Intelligence is omnipresent. We might not realize that, but its fluid nature is what makes it powerful and functional in various spheres. Modern-day industries demand accuracy. Artificial Intelligence techniques can produce accurate results based on previous data. Medical Science has benefitted the most from Artificial Intelligence. When dealing with lives, there is no scope for error. Machine Learning algorithms can be deployed to have virtual personal health care assistants reminding patients to exercise, have medicines on time, keep a check on their weight etc. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant ‘intelligently’ reply to whatever questions we ask. These make use of Speech Recognition-another study area in Machine Learning. Facebook and Twitter make use of Neural Networks – a framework assisting Machine Learning algorithms – to identify friends and categorize tweets respectively. Financial consultancies need predictive models to make sure that companies prosper in future.

Apparently, certain Artificial Intelligence methods can identify fraudulent transactions and can suggest better investment options based on previous patterns. Another really interesting application of Artificial Intelligence lies in job recruiting. Many companies have resorted to chatbots to screen the candidates. The resumes are scanned, the candidates are categorized, and their future performance is predicted based on past records. Accordingly, an eligible candidate, who can do justice to the position, is selected. But with the fragrant petals come the painful thorns. Artificial Intelligence can have a great number of disadvantages as well.

There are certain questions questioning the veracity, authenticity, and future of Artificial Intelligence. “Can robots woven by Artificial Intelligence replace humans in the job market?” This is definitely a major concern these days. As such, spells of recession, in the past, have made people lose their jobs. Having machines that are extremely skilled, unlikely to commit mistakes, and far from getting exhausted will only be fanning the flames. “Will maximizing performance always get in the way of empathy, in machines?” When we extrapolate the idea of a machine working, sans emotion, the consequences seem threatening. “Does Narrow Artificial Intelligence pose no risk to humans?”. The Artificial Intelligence currently being put to use (known as Narrow/Weak Artificial Intelligence) needs to be thoroughly tested to prevent any boomerang effects. “What will happen if Strong Artificial Intelligence comes into complete existence?” Here, the concern stems if machines actually beat human intelligence. Impact of Superintelligence on human civilization is worth a thought. Clearly, the period we are living in is the calm before the storm. Artificial Intelligence may have more benefits than demerits, but the demerits, with grave ramifications, are not worth the risk. In other words, for the most part, Artificial Intelligence is like a sweet poison.

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