Scott Underwood column: Artificial intelligence is changing the world, for better or for worse | Columns

Four others were crouched around Giakk. Wonder, doubt and fear creased their humanoid faces.

Giakk growled something important, smiled through half-missing teeth, and banged two stones together.

Sparks rained down in the nest of dried grass and sticks at his feet.

Wisps of smoke rose. A faint flame ignited, then blazed a wonderful and frightening bright yellow and orange.

One of Giakk’s other cavemen patted his chest and nodded.

Another looked at the fire hopefully but with cautious concern.

The third, terror in his eyes, frantically threw dirt on the fire.

The last caveman, anger pounding in his veins, threw a stone, hitting Giakk between the eyes.

In the two million years since poor Giakk’s death, man has harnessed and created a host of other world-altering forces, each bringing both the promise of a better life and the threat of danger.

The domestication of animals. Agriculture. Wheel. The automobile. Mass production. Radio and television. Nuclear fission. The computer.

Fear, both rational and irrational, clung to every breakthrough. The same goes for hope.

Now comes artificial intelligence.

Are you optimistic about the progress brought by AI?

Are you afraid of the dangerous doors it opens?

Or maybe you don’t know enough about AI to have an opinion.

I remember a few years before the popular rise of post-Facebook social media, a press colleague was trying to explain to me the value of Twitter and how it worked. It seemed like a difficult concept to grasp.

Now the pros and cons of Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms seem simple and clear.

Maybe that’s how we’ll all feel about AI in a few years.

To begin with, Oxford Language defines it as “the theory and development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making and translation. between languages”.

Here are some ways to use AI through

• Personalized purchases

• Fraud prevention

• Automated administrative tasks

• Personalized learning

• Autonomous vehicles

• Facial recognition

• Recommender systems

• Crop maintenance and harvesting

Some of these uses sound like positives, right? Others seem quite disturbing.

An October 2019 article in Forbes succinctly summarizes AI anxiety:

“The AI ​​fears seem to stem from a few common causes: general anxiety about artificial intelligence, fear of mass unemployment, concerns about super-intelligence, putting the power of AI in the wrong hands, and general concern and caution when it comes to new technologies.

A pattern of public attitudes normally develops when world-changing breakthroughs emerge, with widespread fears at the development stage gradually giving way to cautious acceptance and then universal use as the new tool or technology becomes widely available. and affordable.

The actual uses of AI are growing. Yet, for the most part, AI tools are not yet in the hands of ordinary consumers like you and me. But they will be soon – and they will be very useful, even changing.

An early March article in The New York Times describes how a beekeeper used an AI program from a company called With a simple command, the AI ​​app accumulates video footage of wasps and other intruders entering its hives. The technology saves the beekeeper hundreds of hours that would have been spent monitoring surveillance video to find and identify intruders in the hive.

“A growing army of ‘citizen developers’… are using new products that allow anyone to apply artificial intelligence without having to write a line of computer code,” the article notes.

“Proponents of the ‘no-code’ AI revolution believe it will change the world: before it took a team of engineers to create software, and now users with a web browser and an idea have the power to bring that idea to life themselves.

Giakk and his chest-slapping friend would have been all for the idea.

The other three cavemen, no doubt, would have reacted quite differently.

Understanding that the age of artificial intelligence is on the rise, whether we like it or not, is the first step to realizing that it will change our lives for the better.

Like fire in the wrong hands, AI also has the power to disrupt and destroy.

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