Over the course of the next decade or so, the use of artificial intelligence is set to grow dramatically. Americans today are fond of many technologies that use this feature, technologies such as Alexa, face recognition, and anything automatic. At first glance, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) seems like an innovative technology that will better our society and make our lives easier. However, A.I. presents itself with a multitude of risks. Some of these very real risks include economic downturn, violations of privacy, superintelligence, and even the potential of ‘killer robots’. Militaries across the world have been working on and developing combat robots. Should these machines be hacked or even misused, the consequences could be detrimental and everlasting to our society. Billionaires such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, as well as Stephen Hawking, have all warned that if we aren’t afraid of A.I., then we certainly should be. The serious dangers of this new technology are underreported in the news media. The American public is largely uninformed about the threats A.I. poses to their jobs, livelihoods, and privacy. Bringing awareness to the topic is the first step towards finding a solution.
Automation is in the American workforce is projected by some studies to deplete 30% of the jobs in our country. Tens of millions will suffer from unemployment and a large portion of that number could slip into poverty. Those who work in office support, manufacturing, and even the food industry are most vulnerable to this kind of change. Companies may favor automation, as it has proven to be a cheaper and more efficient alternative to human workers. Companies need to remember that when choosing automation over people, they are affecting actual people. Rural communities, especially in the Rust Belt, are feeling the harsh impact of automation. These are areas that have relied heavily on manufacturing, and have lost over 60% of their manufacturing jobs from 1954-2002. Of course automation is not the only cause of this downturn, as a changing world economy and companies moving overseas have not benefited them. In the future, we could see this affect in all areas in the country across all sectors of the economy. Americans need to wake up to what could happen if we don’t clamp down on A.I. Public policy needs to have a degree of focus on this topic here in the digital world, as we cannot trust foreign governments and even domestic companies to keep us safe. If the American people are able to create a culture of concern around A.I., that culture will soon influence the government, and will help us create a brighter, safer future for our country and the world.
The potential violation of our privacy is a very real threat we face. Amazon’s Alexa, whose whole selling point is the use of artificial intelligence, has been proven to be collecting audio data – even when it is off. With the ever growing use of technology comes an ever growing invasion of our privacy, through these exact technologies major companies have been pushing. Artificial intelligence is not just an economic and lifestyle danger, but a physical danger. A.I. experts have warned that if we don’t stop combat robots these essentially can become weapons of mass destruction. Their only boundaries are the boundaries set by their programmers. Arms races for A.I. technologies could very well take place. Certainly these concerns may sound a tad outlandish or even conspiratorial, however just a few minutes of research quickly reveals the reality of how dangerous artificial intelligence can be. This is a serious issue that we should care about. This isn’t about opinion or even partisanship. This is about the livelihood of our nation and the safety of our people. Artificial intelligence could turn our economy upside down, wreck our society, and even possibly kill us. Now is the perfect time for the world to wake up and shut down these threats.