Will Artificial Intelligence Spell the End for Human Intelligence?

Trevor English

True artificial intelligence is closer to reality than ever before. Between all of the generative programs out there we are already seeing very practical applications of robots and software that is in all practical senses, artificially intelligent. So, will Artificial Intelligence mean that humans will never have to learn again, ultimately losing our intelligence all together? Let's dig in.


[Image Source: Insomnia via Flickr]

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and about 100 other leading scientists and engineers believe that artificial intelligence could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Elon Musk specifically also believes that AI is the biggest "existential threat" to humanity's existence ever. The world's top minds have some pretty strong opinions about the potential that artificial intelligence holds.

While these minds have these opinions, they aren't necessarily stressing that we should avoid AI altogether, but rather that we need to be really, really careful.

Back to the question at hand, will artificial intelligence spell the end for human intelligence? It already has in some senses. The US military uses AI programs to predict where ISIS militants will attack next to a high degree of precision, according to the Observer. Hawking believes that AI will be used as the ultimate weapon for militaries, and he's probably right. In many of these ways, AI is replacing the need for human intelligence on the situation. Human intelligence officers no longer need to analyze confusing warfare data and determine the best strategy, AI can do it for them. Application of AI in warfare is only one example of where human intelligence is fading.

Imagine AI machines taking over trades and developed skills, within decades, it is entirely possible that no human would know how to do tasks that previously took lifetimes to master. Jobs like these, in the ultimate realization of AI, would be lost to robots.

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It is important to note that not everyone in technology leadership believes that AI will be a big threat. According to Live Science, Charlie Ortiz, the head of AI at Nuance Communications, believes that the tech industry's fears are "way overblown." From his perspective, he doesn't see the gradual gaining of intelligence for AI being a big threat.

Will Artificial Intelligence Spell the End for Human Intelligence?

[Image Source: IBM via Flickr]

So there seems to be some disagreement, but there is certainly harmony on the idea that Artificial intelligence will be life changing.

In case you are sitting here pondering this question thinking that AI will never eliminate human intelligence because humans still have to program and train them, that isn't entirely true. Right now, there are of course still researchers, programmers, and engineers who train robots and rudimentary AI systems. However, more and more code – much of it in relation to AI – is actually being written by AI programs already. Programmers today no longer have to write long complex codes for AI telling the robot to do this or that. They simply have to write code that tells a program to write code telling the AI to do this or that. In case your mind is blowing at this code-ception, it's already common practice in the industry, they're called generative algorithms.

Will Artificial Intelligence Spell the End for Human Intelligence?

[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Eventually, generative algorithms will get so good, that one algorithm could create other generative algorithms that create other generative algorithms and so on. Eventually, it will be a domino effect of AI, no humans needed. Human intelligence will be the kickstart to one of the largest technological information gathering operations ever, but after the bootup, human intelligence will probably become too slow and obsolete.

This scenario, one that makes humans obsolete, is a plausible scenario in AI if humans don't set in place road blocks and safeties to the programs. If AI is handled correctly, it won't eliminate human intelligence and it will only move to enhance it.

So, is human intelligence going to the wayside thanks to AI? It seems the answer to that question all depends on the skills and responsibilities of programmers of today.

SEE ALSO: Can Humans and Robots Work Side by Side in Harmony?

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