A.I. Softwares, future thinkers

by Scimson on September 2, 2013 - 10:16pm

The development of independent artificial intelligences has always been a debated topic. With the growing importance of computers in our society, it becomes a major concern for all of us. As a computer science student, the wonders behind those intelligences and the improvement they could bring has always been an interesting subject to me. However, looking at movies, novels, etc., artificial reasoning seems to be a subject of fear and is often depicted as machines turning hostile toward the human race. In her short article, Rebecca Burn-Callander depicts the new developments in the field, which is self-learning computer programs. Those programs, by discussing textually with humans, learn and record everything to grow their knowledge database to be able to answer every question asked. The interest which rises from this is the replacement of current customer service jobs by a single artificial intelligence software.

Is a future where humans are no longer required to work, because artificial intelligences are taking care of it, viable for our society?

Following this issue, I believe using artificial intelligences would be more efficient economically and productively. The price of a robotic entity is a one-time fee plus a constant maintenance fee. On the other hand, a human employee is a constant expense and requires ever growing salaries. It can easily be compared to the industrial revolution where factory worker were slowly being replaced by automated machines which could do the physical work faster and more cost-efficiently than humans. However, artificial intelligences as their name suggests it, can do the work which requires reasoning. The application of this technology to customer service would benefit all sides, the companies, the employees and the customers. For the companies, on the long-term, it reduces the expenses allocated to answering customers’ questions. On the employee’s side, the requirement of doing something repetitive and boring won’t be necessary anymore, and human time can be used to other means. Finally, for the customers, a computer can answer questions much faster than a human being. Also, after a couple of years, an artificial intelligence will probably be able to do the job much better than any human could because it remembers everything up to the last detail and learns everything it can.

However, on a larger scale, the replacement of human beings by artificial intelligences could lead to an economic and social breakdown. First, it might be preferable for an individual entity such as a company. However, on a larger scale it might lead to economic problems because the consuming requirement of the system might not be fulfilled because less consumers will be able to afford it. Which is, if there are less jobs available, many human will be faced with financial problem and won’t have the money required to consume. Also, if everything is replaced by computers, we would all become more and more isolated because our human contacts are reduced to the minimum. After that, what really becomes the meaning of life if we are no longer required to do anything? It is also feared by many that an ever-growing artificial intelligence could lead to the breakdown of mankind itself, which is depicted in many movies.

In the end, if we can leave the boring work behind to computers, wouldn’t it allow our society a wider range of improvement by leading us to focus on innovation?



Being a fellow computer science student here at Champlain, technology is of great interest and concern to me as I plan to work on developing software in the future. Constantly we are affected by the progress of technology around us in all sorts of different fields.

To answer your question, I believe that in general we shouldn’t leave all the boring work to computers any time soon. There are too few jobs available for the amount of people living in the world to be worth replacing a good part of them with artificial intelligence. If we start eliminating all the boring jobs (usually the minimum wage jobs or jobs that don’t require much studies) a great amount of people will be replaced and won’t have the means to support themselves or their family. As you mentioned, the economy would probably be left in shambles, people would be evicted, and general crisis would surely ensue. We simply couldn’t focus that much more on innovation. For this to work, we would have to spend millions into the education system to support the sheer amount of people that would crowd our cegeps and universities. Moreover, I do not believe everyone was made to go to school, not everyone has the capacity or the will to sit in classrooms every day, to learn about some things they are not necessarily interested in. I am of the opinion that the people who wish to work in research and development (or innovation in their respective fields) are already studying to achieve this or are already doing so. However, I do agree on what you said that, regardless of politico-social consequences, this change to artificial intelligence could mean faster service, faster production, safer work environments, and also leave place for other work opportunities to be researched; creating a considerably more efficient society.

As for a society where we simply would not work at all, the chances of it not crumbling upon itself are low. There is always something to do, some business to run, some countries to rule, some food required growing or some product required producing. We can’t leave all that work to artificial intelligence. Unless they develop human-like brain thought processes we can’t leave the power of countries in the hands of robots. Without the ethical reasoning and emotional implications of decision making, that I believe programs or robots cannot have, some decisions could be seen as inhumane. We also need something to feel like we accomplished something in our lives, a purpose that drives use and motivates us through life. Maybe in such a society we would find something else to occupy our daily lives but, as it stands today, we would get really bored, really fast.
I found this additional article that might be worth the read on the implantation of these cognitive technologies replacing jobs as early as this year and about how they could eventually replace even some medical specialists.

As a computer science student, I am very interested by the great leaps we are making in the realm of software engineering. Artificial intelligence is usually seen as a fairy tale explored through sci-fi movies, not something that might drastically affect the job market in a few years. I believe that by leaving the boring work behind, the industrialized countries could focus more on progress, self-improvement and (hopefully) helping third-world countries. Of course, some people are more comfortable or just meant to work boring jobs and having AI cover all of the grunt work would take these kind of jobs away from people which want them. Automating all the "boring jobs" would cause vast changes in the economy and in society, the scope of which would be hard to estimate. Maybe having AI as the default for information-based jobs like call centres and data management and having people who want or can only work simple jobs go into jobs that require physical labor or face-to-face human interaction, such as industrial workers, farmers and waiters.

In response to your argument that artificial intelligence could someday replace human workers in every field and therefore make humanity isolated and complacent, I don't think that humans will ever let AI replace workers in every field. In fact, it is already a great controversy for AI to potentially replace call center workers, which is a very boring job. I'm fairly certain that many other fields of work would never let AI intrude upon their ground. Also, the widespread use of AI would create new jobs concerning machine maintenance and AI implementation.

I think that expanding and exploring the frontiers of software engineering in order to find practical applications should be celebrated and encouraged. Here's a link to more recent news about our forays into the world of the future : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130905101723.htm

You know that every day, someone somewhere is working on creating new and better technology that can surpass today’s inventions in every possible aspect. This topic fascinates me because it’s fun to imagine what new invention will pop up on the market. It’s also quite impressive to have people create various technological gadgets that we believed were simply impossible to make, but that is now possible.
You raise an interesting question in your blog, “Is a future where humans are no longer required to work, because artificial intelligences are taking care of it, viable for our society?.” I believe that it is practical to have artificially intelligent robots as a part of our society. I think it would be great to have them do the pathetic menial jobs that people don’t enjoy doing. I also believe that they are a cost efficient alternative, they do exactly what you want them to do (assuming it’s programmed properly), they don’t need vacations or raises or sick days, and you do not have to deal with any emotional outbursts. I see no reason for them to not be a part of our society, when there are so many benefits.
I do not believe that artificially intelligent robots will mean a social and economic breakdown. When the industrial revolution came along, many people were afraid that machines would take the place of man and that society would break down, and that no one would have jobs which would mean that the economy would also breakdown, but it didn’t, and I believe that artificially intelligent robots won’t cause any social or economic breakdowns, nor do I believe that they will replace humans. I believe that many people are afraid of change, and afraid of the unknown, which is why producers create movies like ‘the terminator’.
Another article on this same subjects offers a slightly different perspective on how artificially intelligent robots will shape our lives, casting it in a slightly more positive light than does ‘the terminator’. http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/pure-genius/how-artificial-intelligence-...