In my last science post, we considered the advances in the technology of Artificial Intelligence and its attendant consequences and threats that have been brewing over time, and the truth is; the advances in AI can be considered to be at the infancy stage; imagine what we would witness with the actualization of the next generation AI - the Artificial Super Intelligence. Believe me; saying that humankind could be potentially sidelined by AI is just to say the least. Think about it logically - if every of our features and abilities; like consciousness, emotions, and all whatnot get simulated by machines, what would they need us for in the future? Even though we have been at the “hem of affairs” in controlling and driving these technologies, but with the emergence of the AI that can program; for instance; (which I made reference of in my last post), there could be a paradigm shift from us to them. But to maintain our supremacy over these machines, an idea was raised - instead of using machines to substitute us in tasks that are exclusively preserved for us; why not use them to complement us in the same tasks? Now that's the idea behind Intelligence Augmentation (IA). Welcome again to another face of machine intelligence.
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An era is approaching where machines (talking about the Artificial Super Intelligence - that's the true AI) would outperform humans in almost every task- Professor Morshe Vardi. Source. [Paraphrased by me]
These were the words of one of the proponents of Artificial Intelligence from the Rice University Texas (Computer Science Department), and that has been the major fear in the hearts of humankind - that's the fear of a machine takeover. Maybe this scenario would give you an insight: Facebook inc. launched a robotic program some while ago, but something remarkable happened. The chatbots that were created started having discourse with the language they invented [ref] - no wonder why they had to shut down that particular project. Doesn't this show you that placing control in the hands of machines could make them go rogue? But salvation has arrived in the field of machine intelligence.
IA; The Redemption
Though this is grouped under emerging technology, but the term "Intelligence Augmentation" has been around for a while, but hasn't drawn noticeable attention until humankind started seeing the downturns with AI. As a matter of precision, mention was made of IA as early as 1950s; that's about the 6 decades ago - which coincidentally, is about the same time the idea of AI arose too [ref], but why hasn't IA been seen to gain grounds all these while?
So what's the idea behind Intelligence Augmentation (IA)? Very simple; as against the AI that seeks to replicate or simulate the human abilities in machines; the IA seeks to use machines to supplement our own abilities. No doubt, the human biological bodies are limited; both in physical properties and even in psychomotor functions, and also, machines are limited too, in efferent activities, like; emotions and self-awareness. So the idea here is to combine the strength of the human species (which includes common sense, logical reasoning, emotions, and consciousness) with the strength of machines (which includes resilience and ruggedity), thus overriding the weaknesses inherent in both systems.
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People have been chanting over the years that "machine-human merger is imminent to save our arses from extermination; from advances in AI and the actualization of the super intelligent machines", but the IA is a better way of looking at this merger. Maybe I should drive us back to the purpose of proliferating technology - which is to provide assistance to humankind. But really! have we seen this practically fulfilled in AI?
Let me use this little scenario to elucidate more on the differences between AI and IA for easier understanding. I'm sure you've all heard of the driverless cars; at least that is one of the emerging technologies in the automobile industry. But looking at this holistically; and for the major part of it, they run on AI - which would; as it were; take the control away from the human driver, and you'll just be at the mercy of some bunch of codes. But the fact is; these AIs cannot perform some split-seconds logical reasoning in response to some events along the road - for example: A case where the self-driving car is moving along the road, and a pedestrian runs across the road, and to complicate the matter, the right side is filled with market hawkers, and the left side with structures, so what would the driverless car do at that moment?
But in the recent times, another technology that can be remotely viewed as IA came up - which is the "Manual Override, and Car Collision Detection and Avoidance System" - in the case I mentioned above, what the driverless car would do in such scenario is to temporary switch control back to the human driver to perform the required on-spot logical decision to avoid the impending catastrophe; after which, the control goes back to the machine. Now you see, both the machine and the human combined to salvage what would have been a catastrophe - that's the idea behind IA.
But not just in the area of the driverless cars, maybe you can consider the case of heavy industries that use robotic arms to fit large bolts and stuffs. Most of these are automated and work on the technology of AI. And because they are straight-jacketed to perform just a specific operation, they can't re-adjust to fit into changes within the system. But when humans are involved with the process, they would be solely responsible for the making of logical decisions. So this is just like a symbiotic relationship - they give us their strength, and we give them our brain and logical thinking. Maybe this was actually what Elon Musk meant when he proposed a human-machine merger (I also sighted this in my last science post).
Humankind would need to merge with machines to protect the human race - Elon Musk [From Video source]
I'm sure someone’s fears are fizzling away with the comfy idea of IA. That means, if machines are evolving, we too would be evolving alongside them, because; I mean; they would still be subject to our dictates, and this would minimize the chances of them going rogue. IA also forms the bedrock of cybernetic organisms (which we call "Cyborg") - which is nothing more than a symbiotic merger between biology (that is “we”; the extent modern humans) and technology (machines). Maybe the inference that the future would favour technology over biology may not pose so much threat as it has been feared, because these technologies would still be placed under our supremacy.
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So in view of all these, the proposed "technological Singularity" (human-machine merger) may not necessarily be tilted towards the advancement of Artificial Intelligence to Artificial Super Intelligence, but to Intelligence Augmentation. We just need to keep an open mind as we herald the advances in IA.
No doubt, we; the extant modern humans; even with our complexities and whatnot, are still limited in some aspects. And on the other hand, machines are also not left out of some inherent limitations - that is why the idea to combine these two systems as one sprang out; that is the idea behind IA. And we've seen the applications of these, but the future would certainly present us with more advancements.
Thanks for reading
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