Fear of the AI – a valid concern or just a common misrepresentation?

Credit: Colin Anderson, Getty images.

With the growth of technology and the rise of the internet, various types of Artificial Intelligence have infiltrated almost every step of our digital life, ranging everywhere from unlocking mobile phones using face ID to carefully curated Facebook, Instagram, and other social media feeds. Little (or, arguably, quite significant) traces of AI can be found in almost everything when it comes to digital media and technology. However, the widespread concern and fear related to the AI, and most commonly the idea of sentient Artificial Intelligence, remain some of the most haunting and torturing aspects of tech. Thus, one may wonder – if traces of Artificial Intelligence can be found almost everywhere, including everyday gadgets and easily accessible media, how come the fear of AI is so deeply engrained into our minds?

All in all, the fear and anxiety surrounding the unknown are considered to be some of the basic biological emotions experienced by all humans to a certain extent.[1]  Most of the everyday people, myself included, have very little accurate knowledge regarding the development and the power of Artificial Intelligence. Similarly, commonly found misrepresentations of AI in easily accessible media, such as movies, books, or even online posts, serve as a constant reminder of just how little proven data we encounter in our daily lives.

Little does it help to know that people closely related to the world of tech, have their own fears and anxieties surrounding AI. As Stephen Hawking, a household name perhaps in the entire world, has once stated – the growth of Artificial Intelligence “could spell the end of the human race”. [2]Not only that, but as Blake Lemoine, a google engineer himself, has recognized and shared his experience as well as fears regarding the existence of sentient AI, it is of no surprise that people with little actual knowledge easily develop feelings of fear and distrust.[3]

The lack of shared, basic-level understanding of Artificial Intelligence, thus, serves as an enhancer for some of the most humane emotions – anxiety, confusion, distrust. Connected with popular media representation – such as movies “The Matrix” or “The Blade Runner”,  feelings of general anxiety tend to turn to feelings of fear. Similarly, as the ethics and consequences of widespread use of Artificial Intelligence are not known, most people end up with more questions than answers.

Likewise, the “What ifs..” of artificial intelligence are not unknown. What if it becomes sentient or what if it becomes weaponised? What if it takes over or what if leaves people unemployed? However, many tend to forget that just like all other technology, Artificial Intelligence can be viewed through a variety of different lenses. Thus, instead of fearing it, perhaps it’s time to ask – what if the use of Artificial Intelligence allows disabled people to live their lives to the fullest? What if it raises efficiency and makes day-to-day tasks much easier, like it already does through the use of a variety of household gadgets?

Thus, I invite you all to join me on my journey  through a variety of themes and posts to figure out the use Artificial Intelligence in our day-to-day lives, figure out its potential in digital media, and combat the overall fears surrounding the existence – and use – of AI!

[1] Fear of the unknown

[2] Why are people scared of AI?

[3] Google Engineer on His Sentient AI Claim