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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Paradox of Artificial Intelligence (Part 1)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is probably one of the most common buzzwords in current age. Specially in technology related domains, now-a-days we can hardly find any arena where there is no impact or mentioning of AI. While AI is a huge area of research-development – business for relevant professionals, for most of the others it remains a sort of fascination or mystery.  Notions like emergence of AI will kill jobs for millions of people are quite prevalent around the globe.

For example, let us have a look at the propositions place by Mr. Andrew Yang, one of the candidates seeking nomination from Democratic Party for US Presidential Election 2020. Yang’s signature policy is a $1,000 per month “Freedom Dividend” to all US citizens over the age of 18, which is a form of universal basic income, regardless of income or employment status. Yang has stated that the Freedom Dividend will help compensate for the loss of jobs to automation and artificial intelligence !

Most of us probably know Sofia, world’s first robot citizen, who visited Bangladesh in December 2017 . She held a three-minute conversation with Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, exhibiting her extensive knowledge of “Digital Bangladesh”  and other things. Later on the same day, being  on stage in front of over 5000 audience, she demonstrated her  amazing speed to process and respond to questions.

It may not be long before we can see a robot politician contesting in election.   ‘Sam’ is the world’s first virtual politician , created by Nick Gerritsen, a self-proclaimed ‘impact entrepreneur’ from  New Zealand. Mr Gerritsen termed Sam  an enabler and said that it would  operate within existing legal boundaries. This virtual politician currently interacts with users through Facebook Messenger. These interactions help the bot to learn, alongside a survey on its website. On its website, Sam said, “As a virtual politician, I am not limited by the concerns of time or space. You can talk to me anytime, anywhere. I make decisions based on both facts and opinions, but I will never knowingly tell a lie, or misrepresent information.” Sam’s creator claims that it will be ready to run for office in New Zealand General Election in 2020 !

Around 30 countries around the world have already created, or at least in the last phase of  developing AI frameworks; from generic as well as application-wise perspective. As far as the question of Bangladesh is concerned, certain horizons for effective AI implementation are being identified by government and relevant stakeholders. Among public sectors, citizen services are aimed at one of the best application ground; where AI can stimulate speed, efficiency, and accuracy of service. It can bring similar benefits to other arenas – transportation, education, agriculture, health, and environment. In the private sector, the range is vast- covering various categories of finance, trade, industry, manufacturing, digital and telecommunication services, and media.

Around 20 years back during the 1990s, we got mesmerized when a computer managed to defeat the best chess player of the world. That was the time when significant breakthroughs started to come in AI research-development since its inception in the 1950s. Technological evolution in this front continued in rapid pace, and above examples show just a partial snapshot regarding the current capabilities of AI. While there is no doubt about the immense potential of AI in every sphere of life, its side effects and consequential impacts  remain a big issue to be resolved.  We shall continue to discuss about that in next parts of this article series. Ending this part with the below quote from Stephen Hawking:

“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.”


Azfar Adib


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