Pros and cons of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to a “nuclear-level catastrophe”, according to a third of researchers surveyed for an annual report by Stanford University.

AI systems “demonstrate capabilities in question answering, and the generation of text, image, and code unimagined a decade ago”, said the report’s authors. But they are “prone to hallucination, routinely biased, and can be tricked into serving nefarious aims”.

ChatGPT, a new chatbot, has provoked much discussion in recent months, intensifying debate over the advantages and disadvantages of AI.


Pro: increased efficiency

AI-powered systems can process and analyse large amounts of data quickly, enabling faster decision-making and increased productivity across various industries.

For instance, noted the i news site, a study found that AI can cut your wait for a hospital bed by an hour when you go to A&E.

“For a human to go through 10,000 lines of data on a spreadsheet would take days, if not weeks,” explained Forbes, but AI can do it “in a matter of minutes”.


Con: the question of ethics

AI is “purely logical”, said Forbes, and “makes decisions based on pre-set parameters that leave little room for nuance and emotion”. In turn, this “makes it very difficult to incorporate areas such as ethics and morality into the algorithm”.

AI “notoriously fails” in “capturing or responding to intangible human factors that go into real-life decision-making – the ethical, moral, and other human considerations that guide the course of business, life, and society at large”, said Harvard Business Review.


Pro: more leisure time

Some believe that as AI takes on more and more tasks, society will readjust and allow all of us more leisure time.

“I expect that the world, or at least the developed part of it, will gradually choose more leisure,” wrote Roger Bootle in an extract from his book, The AI Economy: Work, Wealth and Welfare in the Robot Age, published in The Telegraph.

“It will become normal for people to work a shorter working day and a shorter working week, with the three-day weekend becoming the norm,” he added.


Con: potential job losses

Increased automation brought about by AI has the potential to displace jobs, particularly in fields where tasks are repetitive and easily automated. It could displace roughly 15% of workers, or 400 million people, worldwide between 2016 and 2030, according to a McKinsey study.

The potential for human job losses is “widely regarded as the number one downside to AI”, said ITPro, and it “could set in motion a wave of lay-offs, as employees struggle to outperform machines”.


Pro: scientific breakthroughs

AI can accelerate scientific research by automating data analysis, enabling new discoveries in fields like astronomy, genetics and material sciences.

It has contributed to significant advancements in healthcare, said Discover magazine, and can “aid in the diagnosis of cancers”.

An AI program called AlphaFold proved capable of predicting a protein’s structure based on its amino acid sequence, which will “be a great help in drug discovery and development, benefiting us all”.


Con: monopolisation of power

Even now, there is growing concern over the power of multinational corporations, and AI has the potential to further centralise power in the hands of a few tech giants.

AI and new technologies “are already making Big Tech even more powerful than ever before”, wrote Sukhayl Niyazov on Towards Data Science, “because the AI industry naturally gravitates towards monopolisation”.



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