In 1935, British technologist Alan Turing described a computing machine with an infinite memory and a scanner that could read through the memory, “learning” what it read and producing more symbols. A program of instructions is stored in the memory, consisting of different symbols that the scanner can comprehend and add. This concept is known as a stored memory and was the very first substantial progress made in artificial intelligence(AI). Following the development of the “stored memory” concept, Turing also made a series of impressive predictions about this emerging fields, such as the ability for AI to play chess and win against even the best of competitors, which also happens to use the concept of stored memory as the memory consists of all the possible moves on a chess board and the scanner is used to make moves against the opponent, such as putting them in check or checkmate. This technology is used in video games all over the world today, as the “computer” that you can play against in a single-player mode. Another popular example of AI in 2022 is virtual assistants, such as Siri, Alexa, and Google. We use these assistants to complete daily tasks such as setting timers and reminders, telling the time, as well as informing us about weather conditions, news, and other forms of information. These assistants are also starting to have a presence in the automotive industry as well, helping to take the stress off of drivers through cruise control and self-driving modes, the most popular of these being the full self-driving (FSD) mode in Tesla’s vehicles, which has proven to be even safer than manual driving itself. All of these modern-day applications are just a few ways in which AI is being used to further the progress of humanity, however, you may be thinking, there has to be a darker side to this technology, right?
Let’s start off with the example of virtual assistants. There is an obvious downside to these systems, being that it makes people lazier and they eventually stop routines that exercise their brains and bodies in certain ways. For example, the washer and dryer made doing the laundry so much easier and as a result, it also made us oblivious to the fact that back in the day, people had to dry their clothes in the sun and wash them with their hands instead of throwing them into a 230-pound machine. If virtual assistants continue to grow at this exponential rate, the next generation will be in for a shock when they hear that their parents had to do homework on their own, typing essays, doing science homework, and solving math equations for hours on end when they can finish in seconds with the help of updated virtual assistants with extraordinary abilities. Another frightening thing that virtual assistants have been known to do is listen in on private conversations in the house, an example being Amazon Alexa. The way that Alexa works is that someone has to say, “Alexa, how’s the weather today?” or “Alexa, set timer for 5 minutes.”. However, when people mention the word Alexa in conversation, Alexa isn’t sure about what command it needs to execute and records everything that they are saying. Hence, if one was talking about their personal information such as passport and credit card information, Amazon and other hackers could use this information to impersonate you, make purchases in your name, and even endanger your life.
Even though there are positives and negatives to artificial intelligence, systems can be adapted for safety, accuracy, and other features in order to protect users and progress humanity at an exponential rate.