Shall I Start Focusing On AI?

OpenAI has truly astonished the world with ChatGPT. AI is in news again. Especially after Microsoft announced the integration of its Bing web index with ChatGPT's generative AI, the entire world has gone loco. Everyone is thrilled by the excitement of how easy the search for knowledge would be.

But one of the key questions that most of my family and friends often ask me is - will AI replace humans in the future? Will we lose our job? I am going to share my personal opinions on this. My short answer is NO. While AI may be successful in making simple things autonomous, it will never be able to replace the experience of skilled humans.

First, it is important to understand that the AI that we are developing today is based on statistics. Statistics is foolish mathematics - there is no exactness, and there are errors that the machines can commit. To err is human and so is AI. The end goal of the progress in AI is to create a general intelligence with the ability to learn anything. It is this quest that will lead to the creation of AI which is more biased as it tries to be more general. Additionally, we shouldn't ignore the fact that the output of AI would be intense subjective debates and lawsuits, and their creators would have no clue why their AI is giving that output. 

With generative abilities, AI has the ability to create new content but none of them will ever be original. No doubt, humans also draw inspiration from different sources. But the complexity of the human thought process gives rise to much more novel ideas than what AI can generate. Human thought is a combined consequence of billions of data points that humans experience on a daily basis. Generative AI is a consequence of far fewer data points that get recorded digitally and is available for anyone to use on the Internet. What AI will force content creators is to polish and bring out the best of their original life experiences in the form of music, art, and dramas. Anything that is too naive (or unoriginal) would be possibly generated by AI as well. Moreover, I don't think real art would ever be replaced. People would still appreciate a singer being able to sing without AI-based autotuning.

Coming back to the progress of AI in knowledge search and conversational texts. I am pretty sure that people don't completely understand what the search for knowledge really is. When we have conversations with people, do we seek the truth? Or do we seek a statement that can satisfy our ego? We make friends based on the personal preferences that we have. Imagine a person completely based on facts with no emotions. Will anyone be excited to talk to the person? I don't see a reason why someone would be interested in asking long questions and seeking answers from a chatbot unless professionally required. The misuse of such a technology is yet to begin and that will create significantly more problems than before.

The sad part of the AI evolution would be when it is only accessible to a few people who would now be at an advantage over others. In such cases, the gaps between haves and haves not will increase and our civilization would be on a brink of collapse. I won't be surprised to see AI first being used by riches to drive their capitalist motive rather than using AI to solve crucial world problems. Is Microsoft really interested in providing knowledge to people? Or is it just interested in the targeted ad business (I am absolutely sure no one would be willing to pay for it)? And there are other questions like why AI development for natural disaster prediction never receives enough funding. It won't because capitalism doesn't want it to. AI has been a subject of capitalism and would soon be fully commercialized. First, they will be taught in the schools of the capitalist world. The applications of AI would soon be driven by human greed rather than need.

Coming back to the original question, shall I drop everything and start focusing on AI? My suggestion is - it should be good to know the basics of AI and see how it can help you in your area of work. But you should continue to work in your domain. AI is less of a new electricity and more of a buzzword. AI cannot simply replace humans overnight. AI needs to learn from people who are already domain experts in their area. Their textbooks have to be in the form of digital content that can be fed to them. Anything that cannot be digitized would never be replaced by AI. Things that cannot be digitized include judgments, emotions, experiences, decision-making, creativity, etc. Anything that requires them would never be replaced by AI.

AI will have its own effect on each domain. In the software domain, it might be able to help with simple tasks like code predictions and framework generation. But, at the end of the day, computers don't understand natural language. The instructions need to be in the form of formal language. Also, computers cannot program themselves. The problem of "how" to solve a problem is still undecidable for computers based on Turing machines. Even if most things can be made autonomous, we need engineers to build the components of the autonomous system. Or at least verify that the components fit the actual plan. There would definitely be trade-offs involved here because automation using Machine Learning requires a big amount of correlated data. Automation may be more expensive than its tangibility. Not to mention, AI isn't just about visualizing data and writing tuning models; immense amount of effort is required to make specialized processors, data processing pipelines, and building applications that can levarage AI. Lastly, who knows when quantum computers would kick in and all the AI based on binaries would no longer be required.

What trends in society today are most vulnerable to extinction. This is because what is dormant or significantly underestimated is the dark horse of the future. The people involved in working on their own original ideas instead of herd-following are going to start a new trend that the world would value in the future. Of all the things going on in the field of CS, AI is the trend of today and it is going to disappear the fastest. In the end, people don't appreciate progress; people appreciate change.


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