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Is Artificial Intelligence a Proper Goal For Human Endeavour?

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    This essay will argue that artificial intelligence is a proper goal for human endeavour but that, at the same time, it poses tremendous risks for humanity at large. Humans, therefore, have to remain extremely cautious at the amount of power and control that they give to computer science. The danger is the possibility that artificial intelligence may ultimately acquire a mind of its own.

    To be sure, the expectations of artificial intelligence have achieved very much in our modern world. Artificial intelligence has helped society tremendously in such areas as medical diagnosis, chemical analysis, and oil exploration. Computer science helps humanity find mistakes and errors in all walks of life. It also helps quicken research in various fields. Artificial intelligence has promoted greater understanding of human perception and has also created many jobs, since it has founded industries that demand vast amounts of employment.

    It would do well to point out that computers are, in many ways, easier to deal with than humans. They are more obedient and they are always there for you. Copying and distributing software is very easy and inexpensive, whereas training a human expert is very timely and expensive. Surely these are positive aspects to computer science and they have helped humankind. Without doubt, artificial intelligence has challenged many of us to solve more complex problems that have been previously unsolved. Because of the advances in computer science, humanity can consistently cross new boundaries in exploration and discovery.

    Having said that, let us concentrate on one essential question: what if computers begin to think for themselves, begin to have "rights" of their own, and are not under the control of humans? This is the central issue concerning the danger that artificial intelligence poses to humanity. Indeed, is the make-up of human intelligence possible in artificial intelligence? What if artificial intelligence acquires its own thinking patterns?

    Is artificial intelligence, therefore, a proper goal for human endeavour? Because there are dangers in artificial intelligence does not mean that humanity should not use it. Surely computer science and its technological advances must be utilized by humans. Artificial intelligence benefits our human life. The problem, of course, begins with the question of what should remain "human" and whether "intelligence" might only be controlled by humans. Many of these questions date back to a historical debate over man's and mechanical nature in general. The great danger is that we have created machines, which have, in turn, raised the question of whether we are merely a variation of the machine or whether the machine, as a kind of a monster, can turn against its creator.

    Computers are certainly taking us into a fascinating world, but also a very frightening one. We have utilized computers for our own self-interest. The great social problem now is that we might in the end become slaves to computers. Humanity's early use of computers moulded their structure. But now, the future development of computer technology will determine whether we can continue to exist as we are or evolve into something else. Computers might actually begin to change us, rather than the other way around.

    Today, computers can fix machines, dig up oil, identify chemicals and do an increasing amount of things that at one time only humans could do. Indeed, in some fields in this present day, computers can actually outperform engineers, chemists and doctors in doing their own jobs. Medical software systems, for instance, can begin filling a doctor's advice for us. But what happens when we really need a doctor? If computers begin to overtake humans, who is going to update the computers? Will computers program themselves, not needing us? And what will they program? What if we become so reliant on computers that we come to a point when a computer cannot do something for us, yet we cannot do on our own because we have lost our own tools?

    These are the serious issues connected to what was once seen as simplistic and safe artificial intelligence. But there is nothing simplistic about this matter any longer and, more dangerously, perhaps little "artificial" as well. Artificial intelligence researchers have a confusing job ahead of them. Indeed, just because something is difficult for mankind does not mean it will be difficult for computers, but some things may be difficult for computers that are not difficult for people. For instance, will computers be able to become psychologists or psychiatrists. Do they have human intuition? If they do not, what if they are in control? And if they do, what will be the implications of that? What kind of intuition and control will they have? Who will have programmed these things?

    The essential problem is that humans have the capability to think, but they are not sure what they are doing when they do think. Thus, we cannot simply create a computer program that does the same thing. But what if computers begin to think on their own? This is precisely why there are such significant issues connected to computer science in a social and moral sense. What happens when some computer programs begin to have "rights" like humans and will become independent of human control? What happens, and this seems to be the case today, when computer science begins to evolve faster than people are actually evolving?

    Let us remember that computers can now deliver missiles. What do missiles do? They kill people. At this stage they kill the people that a human tells the computer must be killed. But let us go back to the essential question: what if computers begin to think for themselves? What if computers begin to decide that certain missiles should be released toward certain targets?

    Artificial intelligence is a substitute for human intelligence. Computer systems can learn and make decisions on the basis of what we have told them. But what if the talents of human intelligence are surpassed by artificial intelligence? What if computer systems gain independence and acquire their own ability to create ideas and put them into action? In other words, what if computers begin having a mind of their own? A computer with reasoning, learning and thinking capacities that resemble those of humans has artificial intelligence. Can it produce original ideas? It sounds ridiculous, but the simple truth is that current research has led to the development of types of computers that do possess many of the attributes of artificial intelligence, including the independence of idea creation.

    This essay will argue that yes, artificial intelligence can and has made life much easier and productive for the human race. It is true that it is still built by humans and depends heavily on human intervention. In many ways, artificial intelligence can solve humanity's desire for a common wisdom. Many would argue that because artificial intelligence is created by humans, it will never be able to compare to human wisdom.

    This essay will also explore the risks of artificial intelligence. Indeed, while artificial intelligence can make things easier, can it make it better? Can artificial intelligence feel the pain of another person; can it make ethical decisions? How can a computer decide whether life should be taken in certain issues? Artificial intelligence might, in the end, be seen as the effort to organize human affairs — to have one common law. But who will objectify this law? Who will control it? There is a danger of dictatorship here. How can computer science take care of morality? How can it make a conclusion on the complicated affairs of the human condition, so different and diverse as it is, with so many different cultures, races, values, and religions? There is too much complexity and tragedy in this world for there to be just one non-human system making decisions. Thus, this essay will focus on the benefits of artificial intelligence, but also on the danger of when we stop making computers — and they begin to make us. All types of writing tasks you can order at

    Bibliography (at this early stage)

    • Brooks, Andrew. "Computer `Brains' Extend Reach to New Applications: But…Artificial Intelligence Continues to Require Human Input." Computing Canada, January 19, 1998.
    • Gore, Marvin and Stubbe, John. Elements of Systems Analysis (Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1988)
    • Rawlins, Gregory. Slaves of the Machine. The Quickening of Computer Technology (London: The MIT Press, 1997)
    • Sherman, Barrie and Judkins, Phil. Glimpses of Heaven, Visions of Hell. Virtual Reality and its Implications (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1988)
    • Sillars, Les. "We'll Make Great Pets: Transhumanists Are Working On Their Own Silicon Tower of Babel," BC Report, April 27, 1998.
    • Watson, Jack. "Artificial Intelligence?" Law Now, AugustSeptember, 1997.

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