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mains Test Series 2018
Artificial Intelligence
Jul 28, 2017

[GS Paper III: (Science and Technology – Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life; awareness in the fields of IT, space, computers, robotics, nano-technology, biotechnology and issues related to IPR)]

Why in News?

The recent exchanges between tech billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg has turned into a public squabble about artificial intelligence in which Musk described the Facebook CEO’s knowledge of the field as “limited”. While Musk believes that the potential dangers are not so imaginary, and that there should be a move to regulate AI, Zuckerberg believes that AI will have much less dystopian applications, and will be responsible for saving lives through disease diagnosis and by powering driverless cars. 

What is Artificial Intelligence? 

 Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to learn and reason through analogy, analyse, interpret information, recognise speech, visual perception and take decisions. In other words, AI is application of human intelligence by the machines.

Different types of AI

  • Algorithm- machine performs a programmed/ algorithmic function.  Algorithms are used for data processing, calculations and automated reasoning. 
  • Machine learning- machine’s ability to perform with partial programming. Machines like computers can analyze and interpret information and derive logical inferences. 
  • Narrow AI- machine is programmed for single set of task and it keeps executing it. Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana fall in this category where they are designed to answer the questions they understand. 
  • General AI- machine imitates human cognitive actions and is able to improve its learning abilities. This kind of AI, also known as strong AI or super-intelligence can surpass human intelligence.
  • Bot- the programme that enables the machine to perform automated tasks like adding a reminder or appointment to the calendar. 

Applications 

  • Some of the major applications are seen in the creation of machines or robots that can perform human tasks without errors like autonomous, driverless cars that can prevent accidents due to human errors. As they don’t require breaks like humans, they provide higher levels of productivity in lesser time than humans.  
  • Artificial Intelligence also finds extensive and significant application in the medical science. Robots can perform complex surgeries with precision, record the huge amount of information that can be used for individualised treatments, evolved research works etc.  
  • Developing countries like India can creatively use the technology to find unique solutions for problems related to sanitation, education, agriculture etc. AI can make things easier by weather predictions and can efficiently help in disaster management. The use of automation in the banking sector has already received positive reviews. 
  • Other than efficiency, machines have advantages over negative effects of human emotions as well. They can take more rational and logical decisions than those based on various human sentiments. 

Concerns

  • One of the major concerns is the possibility of human beings losing out on employment opportunities due to machines’ ability to perform the same tasks more efficiently. Automation has already rendered a huge number of people jobless all around the world. 
  • Unemployment due to AI could have serious impact in a country like 
  • India that will have largest working age population by 2020. IT sector, with its large number of skilled and unskilled labours, is particularly being considered to be vulnerable in this context. 
  • Another major concern is about difficulties in regulation of machines in the human society. For example how can the self driven cars that crash be held accountable for their actions? 
  • Along with the human sentiments, basic human values like morality and ethics would not exist in a machine dominated world. Such a society can lose out on factors like belongingness, warmth, brotherhood etc. 

The future of AI

There are endless possibilities for the application of artificial intelligence but the ethical and moral concern emanating from it cannot be brushed aside. The recent debate needs to find its way to the larger public discourse where all the stakeholders of the society can discuss and understand the possibilities that AI as a scientific innovation holds.

  • The speculations about job losses because of AI can be turned around by learning from history wherein revolutionary concepts have usually led to the creation of new set of jobs.
  • Machines cannot mimic the human brain’s ability to think uniquely and come up with new solutions to problems every time. In future also this human ability to make sense of novel situations and experiences would help in regulating AI. 
  • To preserve the significant values of humanity, a regulated application of the new technology is needed to prevent its transformation into a frankenstienian concept. 


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