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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – UTOPIAN OR DYSTOPIAN FUTURE?

Artificial Intelligence has seen unprecedented developments recently.

Understanding how machines interact, adapt and learn the human ways is one of the most ground-breaking discoveries for the fields of science and technology. However, the concept of AI has always fascinated and honestly, frightened me. So, when I first watched the interview with Sophia, the world’s first humanoid robot, my worst fears had been realised. David Hanson, CEO of Hanson Robotics, who developed her, asked a simple question – Do you want to destroy humans? Her reply was prompt and terrifying (jump to 2:05):

Remember the critically acclaimed 2014 film, Ex MachinaIt is a story about a humanoid robot built using artificial intelligence, named Ava. With a brilliant performance from Alicia Vikander as Ava, the film depicted how AI and its potential is underestimated by us and how they can quickly outsmart us to ensure their own survival. The similarities between Sophia and Ava are striking and uncanny.

As a kid who grew up watching films like Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Terminator, the cynic in me believes in a dystopian future where, if not controlled and understood completely, AI has the power to completely obliterate the human race as we know it. It seems that even billionaire and tech-mogul, Elon Musk, shares similar inhibitions as I do when it comes to AI.

Yes, AI has been a great boon to mankind in many forms and has helped in various industrial and technological processes. Machines in general have simplified human lives to a point where we have become so sedentary and dependent on them that we can’t function without them. From serving up our morning coffee to helping manage one’s financial portfolio, and controlling the defence mechanisms and strategies of nations, machines have infiltrated every industry and the skeptic in me believes that Skynet and Judgement Day is not far away.

In a world obsessed with social media, is our virtual profile taking over our real selves so much so that we are forgetting basic human emotions? Well, this weird anime artificial intelligence Home Assistant (Japan’s answer to Amazon Echo) surely makes me feel that way. Japan is facing one of the worst population crisis right now, with the country’s birthrate in the negative. Basically there’s a sex problem and people just don’t want to be in physical relationships. A 2016 study found that 70% of unmarried men and 60% of unmarried women are not in a relationship. However, they still crave companionship – and that’s where Gatebox AI comes in. Take a look below at what it does:

Watching this, I was immediately reminded of Joaquin Phoenix’s 2013 film, Her, where he falls in love with his AI Home Assistant, Samantha.

So, is Gatebox AI really a solution for a country facing a shrinking population? Are we as humans becoming emotionally insensitive to a point where we can only emote on virtual platforms? Are we ourselves becoming machines, devoid of being able to appreciate the real world and its beauty? Is Black Mirror and Westworld really a distant future? What’s your opinion – is the future of AI and technology a utopian or dystopian one?

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