Is AI our friend or worst enemy? 4 + 4 arguments to decide


5 min read

AI is a complex and fascinating topic that can evoke hope and concern. We’re here to help you navigate the world of robots, automation, and the future of our species by bringing you the top 4 arguments for and against AI.

AI on phone

Stop and think about AI (Artificial Intelligence) for a second. What pops into your head? Is it a sense of hope and optimism about our future? Or an eerie feeling that leaves you wondering if humanity is in danger?

You may not have such a strong opinion on the topic yet. And you’d be right to not think in such black and white manner. There’s a lot to consider here, and if you haven’t had the chance to get lost in the topic, we’re here to help.

The world of robots, automation, and the bright – or not so bright – future of humanity is a complex topic. And we’re aiming to bring you the top 4 arguments for, and against AI. But first, let’s sort out the basics.

Table of Contents

The difference between AI and ML

The two terms don’t mean the same thing even if people tend to use them interchangeably when discussing this topic.

  • AI, that is Artificial Intelligence is the bigger, more complex concept. To create Artificial Intelligence means to simulate the thinking capability and behaviour of humans in machines. 
  • ML, that is Machine Learning, on the other hand, is an application, or a part of an AI that learns from data without being programmed to do so.

So AI is to mimic human intelligence and get machines to carry out tasks in a smart, humane way. While ML grants machines access to data, and lets them learn for themselves.

AI at the moment is pretty far from where Skynet is in The Terminator, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get there at a point in the future. Let’s see what it’s currently capable of:

Currently, AI is capable of...

… amazing things, but not world dominance. It can do:

  • Profiling – Based on a person’s actions, choices, and preferences. Just think about your Netflix or Spotify recommendations. 
  • Predictions – Using data to predict future events. Remember those projections and charts about the pandemic? Yup, that was AI in its prime.
  • Pattern recognition – To find patterns in behaviour, and to show the anomalies. It’s there when Google suggests things, or when Gmail finishes your sentences.
  • Natural language – To understand the way humans communicate, and to be able to react in a similar way. Think Siri and Alexa, but also chatbots that pop up on your screen.
  • Object identification – It can detect objects that it was trained to recognise. Think self-driving cars and in-time recognized obstacles.
  • Goal achievement – This is present in video games, where you play against the computer. The ML algorithm can learn on its own in any environment, and win, with maximised outcomes.

So yes, AI is already advanced but it’s nowhere near the state to dominate the world. And we’re still a long way from the singularity.

Still, AI, even in its “infancy” can be harmful and cause disruptions to our societal fabric. Let’s see why the ones who scream “Dystopia is upon us!” think that AI will eventually cause our doom.

Top 4 downsides of Artificial Intelligence

Just look at the TV shows and movies of our time. They endlessly project and predict a dystopian future, and you might be inclined to think in terms of The Matrix or The Terminator when it comes to AI. Because in the end, robots might really win, take our jobs, and destroy the world.

Now, if we look at the actual negative traits of this amazing technology, the picture becomes a tad more realistic, but still causing concern in a lot of people. 

1. AI makes critical choices but is inherently inhumane

Algorithms have been tasked to make life-altering choices many times. And not all instances have gone by without accidents. Self driving cars are the future but there’s still a lot to learn for the AI brain. Just check the Moral Machine for an eerie kick of mistrust towards the technology. Algorithms might be able to think more efficiently than humans, but they need to be taught what is and isn’t humane.

2. AI causes unemployment and replaces humans in jobs

This is the most complex argument among all and it needs deeper investigation. AI, in general, can add value to jobs with various augmentations, however, automation technologies that use ML will likely replace humans in the long run. Research shows that 48% of experts believed AI will replace a large number of blue- and even white-collar jobs. This will create income inequality, increased unemployment, and slowly but surely a breakdown of the social order. 

3. AI discriminates

Artificial Intelligence frequently fails to recognise and censor racial slurs but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Algorithms often amplify societal problems, like gender bias or the spreading of false information.

4. AI is a risk to our personal privacy

Do you feel watched? That’s because you probably are when you’re out and about living your daily life. 75 out of 176 countries globally are actively using AI for surveillance. Facial recognition is a prime example of unwanted attention and can be used to passively watch people without their approval.

Top 4 reasons to root for AI

The positive list is just as impressive as the negative side. AI really does have the potential to change lives for the better and to take humanity to a utopian future. AI fans believe that it depends on us, humans, where we take this technology and how we use it.

1. AI improves efficiency

Since data is worth more than oil, it’s necessary to process it with the utmost accuracy. And there’s nothing more efficient than AI when it comes to data processing. It’s quick, accurate, and processes data in real-time.

2. AI can eradicate human error

The AI workforce will never make mistakes because of stress, tiredness, or illness. Especially when it comes to risky, even dangerous tasks like inspecting roofs. In the case of these jobs, AI can replace the human element and mitigate incidents. Just think humans on top of roofs doing extremely dangerous tasks. Now change up the picture and let a drone fly there, able to notice and fix problems on the spot. In many instances, it’s safer and faster to let AI do the job.

3. AI makes everyday life simple and convenient with smart technology

At the moment, smart homes are not the norm, but in an optimistic view, AI will power entire smart cities in the future. Life is more simple and convenient thanks to smart technologies, and many people think that this will only get better with time.

4. AI improves our health and supports people living with disabilities

One of the main benefits of AI lies in helping people who otherwise couldn’t live a fulfilling, independent life. At the moment, Siri, Alexa or Cortana help millions perform simple tasks. But these solutions will exceed all expectations soon. Smart thermostats, lighting, and plugs can be automated to work on a schedule, and apps like Wheelmap already provide users with critical information like wheelchair accessibility. What’s more, deep learning algorithms are already better at identifying skin cancer than dermatologists.

Where do you stand on Artificial Intelligence?

Now that we’ve seen all the pros and cons, what do you think about the state of AI? And where do you think it will take us?

We believe that what we do with this technology depends on us, people, to a great extent, and especially on today’s developers. If you’d like to participate in creating a better version of our digital future, a job as a developer might be the right choice for you.

Check out our courses or reach out with any questions you might have. Even better is if you come to one of our events! You can meet our mentors, students and staff there. 

Hope to see you soon!

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