“Wisdom may be the only gift that could set humans apart from machines otherwise, in terms of intelligence, humans may soon become comparable and possibly find themselves as inferior to intelligent machines. Logically, the day may not be very far when humans may find themselves in an awkward state of competition with machines that they are creating every day. The day Artificial Intelligence surges ahead of the average human intelligence, the human race may possibly start finding itself in a state of servitude and subservient to intelligent machines.
[Note: This article should be read to its end.]
The fact that machines are increasingly becoming more intelligent with time – thanks to the humans who have dedicated their lives to the development and advancement of Artificial Intelligence – should put humans on notice that they may have unknowingly created a demon which may potentially devour them in the long run. The rise of Artificial Intelligence may possibly become a major reason for the ultimate downfall of the human race unless timely, adequate controls are put in place now to offset its long-term, irreversible detrimental effects.
Humans invariably seek constant change, fun and excitement to distract themselves from a state of boredom that they tend to experience from their mundane, routine lives. They also constantly seek comfort and ease in undertaking their daily chores. In the past, they would use slaves but now they have created machines that are run by Artificial Intelligence. Their tendency to choose short-cuts in life, with least inputs, may be likened to a varying degree of escapism and malaise. Their imprudence may possibly erode away their core abilities to think, remember and enjoy simple pleasures of life. They are constantly replacing their traditional mundane tasks that have stood by them for the last 200,000 years of their existence, which they would generally carry out physically. For example:
- As pre-cooked food is available in the market, which just needs heating in a microwave or an oven, why cook food from the raw ingredients?
- As Google is supposed to know everything, why understand, learn and remember things?
- As GPS can provide directions on road, why bother to memorise the routes?
- If computer programmes can draw, design and calculate, why use hands to do them?
- If emails or text messages can be sent, why write?
- If design software apps can work, why undertake manual calculations?
- If robots and drones can work, why employ humans?
Simply, why bother doing anything if a machine can do it for you? Alarmingly, virtual sex is also known to have made inroads into some people’s personal lives. As a major paradox, on the one end of spectrum, the underprivileged, who comprise the bulk of the world population, crave and work to make their lives comfortable with the facilities and gadgets that are mainly accessible to the minority, affluent population. On the other end of spectrum, the affluent class may be making their own kind redundant by the mechanisation of their daily lives and over-reliance on gadgets.
Humans may, therefore, wittingly or unwittingly be making their own kind redundant and endangering the whole human race. One can see it in happening in developed countries where versatile machines have started replacing humans in the construction, agriculture, health, transportation, sports and cooking industries. For example, remote-controlled, automated, driver-less trains and trucks have started replacing humans on large mining projects; on arrival-immigration process is done by machines with passports carrying micro-chips; and banking is done with automated teller machines.
On an individual level, addictive smart phones may seem to have brought the world closer – for example, through the use of social media etc. – it may have also created a greater physical distance between people. Social media, like any other facility available to humans, is seen to be increasingly abused and misused. On a negative side, it allows cowards to say anything – without taking any social, moral or ethical responsibility – and bully or malign anyone, which they would not otherwise dare to do in person. Families have begun to look like loose units that comprise individual members who may appear to live together but mostly choose to exist within the confines of their own virtual spaces. People choose to communicate through text messages and emoticons rather than express themselves in person.
Some people may argue if these gadgets and facilities are available and affordable, why they should not be used to make one’s life easier. Yes, that is a valid argument but that may also gradually rob humans of their natural skills and independence. On surface, mechanised and robotic facilities may look attractive in making the general life comfortable but, deep down, humans may be undermining their own very existence. “We tend to lose what we don’t use”, as the general principle goes and that applies to human faculties and skills. If we don’t fully use our brains and memory, we are bound to become rustic, lethargic and incapacitated to think with time.
Undoubtedly, in general, as humans are fast relying on machines, they may also be losing many basic living skills in the process. Their reliance on machines may be deemed as acceptable on the proviso they do not render themselves handicapped in undertaking some essential chores of life – literacy, numeracy, cooking and breeding, and most importantly, the ability to think and philosophise, which qualify them as humans. In essence, as long as humans are in control and machines work for them, the situation may be deemed to be acceptable.
Objectively, what do we do with the time that we save by using the modern robotic facilities and electronic gadgets? Do we invest that time in our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health? Are we happier than the times when these facilities did not exist? These are some of questions that we must ask ourselves now.
Going forward, humans must endeavour to wrest the core controls of their life back with themselves, and at any cost, not lose the ability to think, contemplate and philosophise to stay in control. The preservation of human feelings and emotional intelligence – with basic skills to innovate, acclimatise and survive – is necessary. The humankind needs to make serious commitment in education in arts – humanities, philosophy and literature to retain their thinking ability, emotions and feelings. Most importantly, children must be taught the skills of writing with hand, using paper and pencil or pen; solving mathematical sums using the traditional methods, without using a calculator; and doing basic cooking using raw ingredients. The arts of mental mathematics and calligraphy must be preserved at any cost. Importance of learning and teaching literature and philosophy has never been as high in history of humans as it is now. If humans don’t wake up now, the consequences are definitely unacceptable by any measure. Humans must exercise both wisdom and intelligence to preserve their skills and race.
Despite the above argument – which has been made in favour of the need for the survival of the human race – some holistic thinkers and philosophers may also argue that Artificial Intelligence could be the solution that nature may have cleverly sought and devised (through humans only) for the survival of the planet that humans have been selfishly devouring. Does, therefore, nature intend to rescue the planet by gradually ridding it of humans who may have unwisely been growing their kind, which has been destroying and mindlessly devouring every natural resource on the planet? [Note that the human population has grown nearly seven times in the last 300 years and more than doubled in the last 70 years.]
Exciting times lay ahead, one way or the other; nature works both ways. We may have proved to be not only the most dangerous living species on the planet but also the most unwise species that has used its intelligence to undermine itself. We have created all kinds of weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, biological, chemical – to destroy our own kind, through all kinds of warfare – cyber included.
Nature must be laughing at us fools. And, as the biggest living fools on the planet, we claimed to be God’s best creation and put ourselves at the top of the food-chain. Ha! There can’t be any bigger self-deception, illusion and lie than that claim. Nature will have the last laugh, and it must. Nature is a great leveller. It gave us a chance to redeem ourselves but we may have squandered that chance forever – due to our greed and imprudence.” … Bill K Koul (23 June 2019)