Artificial Intelligence: Boon Or Bane?

By Sunil Kumar

Somewhere in the 90s; I liked “Data” the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here was a robot with a heart. On the other end of the spectrum; the ruthless devastating spectacle of the Terminator ripping through human flesh.

Raymond Kurzweil, an American academicand author.

Visit Raymond Kurzweil, an American academicand author. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most science-fiction scenarios; largely manufactured in the plebeian curious minds of the West; often deal with such dystopian setups routinely. I cannot think of any Indian example here; accustomed as we are to being the diligent emulators of foreign trends.

Famous figures such as the scientist Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk; noted entrepreneur have set alarm bells ringing with their predictions of utter doom; if Artificial Intelligence matches human cranial capacities. The Internet of Things and botnets in operation around the world already have given vast computer networks the ability to communicate amongst themselves.

On the positive side; if Artificial Intelligence gives us some superior ability to thwart natural calamities such as the recent devastating earthquake in Kathmandu; or can heal people around the world like Star Trek’s superb medical sick bays; we could be in for a exciting future.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Future's Past

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Future’s Past (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world’s population is set to explode; and pressure on land, resources and materials even more intense. When I asked this question to Ariana Huffington; founder of the Huffington Post; she replied with a truly feminist touch; believing that human intelligence could always counter a nightmarish setup; and in a lighter vein; that she did not plan to get Artificial Intelligence to replace her online staff.

Unless many of us have some superb precognitive abilities; which I do not think is the case currently; the future is full of surprises. For a billion plus Indians; the only thing relevant would be an imminent danger to individual liberties and our defence setup; with ongoing research on terminating machines to be used in wars.

When IBM‘s Watson defeated humans in the American quiz show “Jeopardy”; this again made AI skeptics wary of a rather awry future. If Ray Kurzweil‘s prediction that the iPhone will become as intelligent as a normal human comes true; then the implications are truly phenomenal. Moore’s Law; the famous prediction in 1965 that processing power doubles every 18 months has come true; but there is a limit to this law; and quantum computing could again prove to be instrumental in shaping our future.

Exploring planets for human colonization should be a priority for governments around the world; and most global governments seem to be rather bogged down with things here on earth; rather than looking boldly at the stars. India’s ISRO has already shown technical prowess; and if countries including the USA; Russia, Japan and China could co-operate in a collective foray to worlds beyond us; humanity may benefit.

If all of this sounds like wishful thinking; which it may be for various reasons; every reader must be aware of billions of dollars wasted every year in meaningless wars; pointless movies; alcohol; gambling, live televised entertainment. Can somebody on the planet show some foresight for once instead of the ridiculous self-absorption that is an ingrained trait?

My post for today! More later!




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