The age of artificial intelligence is essentially at hand. This essay was inspired by a science fiction TV series called Humans, which avoids extreme utopian and dystopian visions, yet encourages people to consider both upsides and downsides of a potential AI society. The drama series first debuted in 2015, portrayed a parallel universe where the AI-enabled humanoid robot, also known as Synths, are assisting people on a daily basis, from household to public in many ways. However, the inventor of Synths intentionally programmed several sentient ones, and the whole story is told based on their narrative. Therefore, how AI and humanoids may affect human life in business, social and cultural, as well as ethical and legal settings, are what this writing is going to address.
Start from the business implications, it is evident that AI is spreading to thousands of domains, and as it does, it will eliminate many jobs and replaces them with automation and intelligence. Besides, we are also arriving at the end of the Big data model, where the AI-first model starts to grow. Data, algorithms and research results are put into a radically open “AI Commons.” Some tech giants like Amazon, Alibaba and a lot more have already touched on this, and it is only when the information and innovation are coming together that they can produce intelligence. Arguably, there is no reason for non-tech companies to think they cannot do AI. For instance, the self-driving car is an alternative rather than robots driving for us, so shortly, there is a predictable increase in this industry.
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Moreover, more recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has funded $1.5M to source a better threat detection algorithm so that we would be using new screening machines with no physical searching conducted by agents. It is safe to say that the AI deliverables are profitable to whoever can supply, which will result in an imperfectly competitive market and change the rules of play.
The culture and social implications flow from the AI breakthrough as well. AI will readdress what it means to be human, and it will have much power to change our culture at the same time. Sociologically, we are not human because we have big brains, we are more human owing to conscious thinking and social interactions. Nevertheless, the TV series demonstrates the possibility that sentient Synths can be socially defined as human. When it comes to culture, AI cannot creatively improvise nor originate, but nothing stops them from using the data collected from humans to use for further studying. Alibaba proves that their AI design platform LuBan can make 40 million banners per day for e-commerce. Also, Google AI understands what we draw on the screen, once it has enough data, it will not hesitate to take over the art domain. We are also unavoidably under the considerable influence of AI, and it is only a matter of time when the AI companies are to reap the rewards of network effects from long-term data mining. That said, the bigger their network and the more data they collect, the more effective and attractive they become. Possibly, AI smart machines will be able to create what we call art, and machines are becoming better at many of the ideas we socially and culturally associate with being human.
Although we can emphasize personality and morality to differ from us from AI humanoids, it does not help at a large scale. Knowing that we create smart machines, then taking over jobs from us, it has been a threat which makes the human world in full swing. Day Zero is a watershed in Humans Season 3, where consciousness code was uploaded to wake Synths, led the human world to a catastrophe. This provoked a great deal of retaliation against the original green-eyed Synths; hence, most of them were scrapped then replaced with orange-eyed ones to continue to serve humanity. TV series comes onto a scene that sentient Synths want equal rights. We might grant basic rights for AI humanoids, but there would be more to think about to avoid our society being fundamentally reorganized. Governments can regulate what kind of research is ideal for conducting though, the developing circle remains black-boxed and less apparent to the general public. Countries like China and Singapore are and will continue implementing strict data-control rules to watch over the industry. However, it does not mean that countries will give up working on higher technology themselves. Ethically, what if countries engaged in arms are racing to build machines that can kill, since using AI smart machines to overturn the society is as simple as launching nuclear weapons. Hence it is not guaranteed that this technology will not be misused by people, organizations or countries with bad intentions. We need to think way ahead of time about the ethical consequences and make regulations to govern the situation.
So, are we ready for an AI-enabled world?