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Artificial Intelligence: A blessing or a curse?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently one of the hottest buzzwords in the technology arena, and with good reason. In the last few years, we have…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently one of the hottest buzzwords in the technology arena, and with good reason. In the last few years, we have seen several innovations and advancements which used to be thought of as mere science fiction – a mere figment of one’s imagination, now slowly transformed into reality.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a method of making either a computer, a computer-controlled robot, or a software, to think intelligently like the human mind. Artificial Intelligence is accomplished by studying the patterns of the human brain and by analysing what is known as the cognitive process – that is, the mental operation the brain performs to process information – including obtaining information, processing the information and then storing it in the memory to be accessed again. These AI studies result in the development of intelligent software and systems.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is usually classified broadly into two categories: –

  1. Weak AI (or Narrow AI): This refers to systems that are designed to perform specific tasks and are limited to those tasks only. These weaker AI lack general intelligence but perform their designated tasks very well. An example of weak AI is voice recognition software like Siri or Alexa which are popularly used on mobile phones.
  2. Strong AI: Also known as General AI, refers to AI systems that have human-level intelligence or even surpass human intelligence across a wide range of tasks. Strong AI would be capable of understanding, reasoning, learning and applying knowledge to solve complex problems in a manner similar to the human mind. The development of Strong AI is still largely theoretical at the moment. It has not been fully achieved yet.

What are some of the ways that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used positively?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a wide range of applications across several industries and domains. Here are some notable ones:

In the health care industry: AI-powered robotics could support surgeries that are located near highly delicate organs or tissues of the body, and therefore help to reduce blood loss or the risk of infection. It could also help in better diagnosis, better medical imaging analysis, better drug discovery and better medical treatment.

In the finance industry, AI could help in fraud detection due to its capability to analyse large amounts of data. It could help to quickly detect anomalies or patterns that signal fraudulent behaviour, thereby helping to reduce the frequency of fraud in the financial services industry.

In the technology industry, AI could help in cybersecurity – detecting and preventing cyber threats and enhancing response mechanisms.

However, as with any other concept or innovation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) also has its disadvantages and potential dangers. What are some of them? They include job loss due to increased automation, leading to greater unemployment; taking over our creative tools because of the desire for more efficiency instead of encouraging human creativity, especially in the artistic field; possible cybersecurity concerns; lack of transparency over how decisions are arrived at, resulting in less-than-optimal solutions; a potential to create misinformation as well as inadvertently violating laws and regulations.

There is also the potential danger of using AI technology to create weapons that we cannot even understand and that could also fall into the wrong hands, which could be catastrophically dangerous to humans.

So, although Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a range of exciting applications with the potential to transform our daily lives and how we work, it also poses many challenges. It is a complicated picture that often summons competing images: a utopia for some, a dystopia for others. The reality is likely to be much more complex.

 

 Daniel Ighakpe can be reached via

[email protected]

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