Scientists Warn AI Can Be Dangerous as Well as Helpful to Humans


May 11,2016

LOS ANGELES— Artificial intelligence, or AI, no longer simply exists in science fiction movies and books. Scientists warn AI has and will continue to change almost every aspect of how people conduct business and live. Researchers say artificial intelligence can be a threat, as well as helpful, to humans.

From the iPhone personal assistant Siri, to doing searches on the Internet, to the autopilot function, simple artificial intelligence, or AI, has been around for some time, but is quickly getting more complex and more intelligent.

"If we are going to make systems that are going to be more intelligent than us, it’s absolutely essential for us to understand how to absolutely guarantee that they only do things that we are happy with," said Stuart Russell.

FILE - A Chinese worker is seen behind orange robot arms at work at Rapoo Technology factory in southern Chinese industrial boomtown of Shenzhen, Aug. 21, 2015.
FILE - A Chinese worker is seen behind orange robot arms at work at Rapoo Technology factory in southern Chinese industrial boomtown of Shenzhen, Aug. 21, 2015.

Computer science professor Stuart Russell says, many present-day jobs that are labor intensive, or require data analysis, such as in the financial industry, will be replaced by machines with artificial intelligence.

"But if we replaced all the jobs that require human physical labor and then we replace all the jobs that require human mental labor, then you have to ask, 'What’s left?'" Russell asked.

New Jobs

Guruduth Banavar of sees a future in which new jobs such as data engineering will be created.

"The future will require everybody to work with these learning reasoning machines. So I think the skill set for many of these jobs will end up being different in the future," Banavar said.

Russell envisions that AI will change the economy and the current way of life.

"Most people will be employed, possibly even self-employed, in providing individualized personal services to other human beings, that we won't have mass employment in manufacturing or in financial services,” said Russell. “The kinds of scenarios where there is a giant factory or a giant office building with thousands of people doing the same thing will go away."


FILE - The IBM computer system known as Watson is seen at IBM's T.J. Watson research center in Yorktown Heights, New York, Jan.13, 2011.

Artificial intelligence is already transforming the health care industry. AI can process huge amounts of data and have the most up-to-date research to help doctors diagnose and treat patients.

IBM's Watson technology is already in hospitals in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

"The different between going to a doctor who has Watson versus not having Watson is very big, because when you go to a doctor today you might find somebody who is 10 years out of date," said Banavar.

Autonomous Weapons

But there is also a dangerous side of artificial intelligence -- autonomous weapons out of drone technology .

"The risk with autonomous weapons is that people will use them as a kind of poor man's weapon of mass destruction - a poor man's nuclear weapon," said Russell.

Russell says the international community need to create treaties to ban autonomous weapons.

"It is a race against time because the weapons are starting to emerge, the research is moving into development, development is moving into production," Russell said.

Impact on Society

While it is up for debate whether artificial intelligence will hurt or benefit mankind, researchers say, it is a fact that the technology is and will continue to transform many aspects of life.