(To arouse the interest of the budding young engineer / scientist)
STEM Science & Artificial Intelligence
In a recent article we pointed out that many experts had voiced concerns about the possible dangers of uncontrolled AI. They include Stephen Hawking (the renowned physicist), Elon Musk (the Tesla tech entrepreneur) and Bill Gates (the founder of Microsoft).
Some of their concerns:
• Are there unpredictable consequences? For example AI machines that grow ‘super-intelligence’ on their own and head off in a totally unintended direction.
• Will it replace so much human effort that many jobs will be lost?
• Can AI machines become so intelligent that in future they may even control their human masters? For example deadly weapons that are autonomous (self-controlling).
• If they are designed to serve humans, are they intelligent enough to manage complex tasks? For example, in an emergency a self-driving (autonomous) car may have to decide between a small chance of a major accident and a big chance of a small accident. Can they?
The other side of the argument:
But many other experts such as Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and John Giannandrea (Google’s AI chief) believe these concerns are over-blown. They believe the ‘doomsday prophets’ above are ‘alarmist’ for no good reason, and that the benefits of AI are far greater than the dangers. For example, just as with computers that have replaced so much human effort, they have opened up numerous opportunities and created new jobs in the process (such as in technology design and manufacture). They are also convinced that the human creators of AI will anyway learn at a faster rate, so as to remain on top of the technology.
Which side of the argument has got it right? The future will tell, but the truth maybe is somewhere in between the two sides of the argument.
How to get ready for AI?
Early AI systems are likely to make mistakes that most humans would not make. But they will evolve over time. So it’s important for us to learn quickly about AI and machine learning methods (where the machine learns as it goes), and their limits.
We cannot train for what we cannot foresee, but what we can do is to be flexible and have an ability to learn new skills. For young people it means learning with a strong STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths), in particular Coding.
And schools must adapt to artificial intelligence by re-looking at teaching methods.
The 21 Century focus. For young leaders of the future.