Teenagers & Artificial Intelligence

Robot touching digital screen

Dr Shaison P. Ouseph, award-winning documentary filmmaker and course head of Film, Television and Digital Production, St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, represented India at the 3rd International Youth Summit 2020 (online), conducted recently by Workplace Skills Development Academy, New Zealand. Forty representatives from different countries participated in the Youth Summit. Dr Shaison spoke on ‘Youth and Artificial Intelligence’.

The Teenager Today met Dr Shaison soon after the event for a brief interview. Excerpts:

Why did you choose ‘Youth and Artificial Intelligence’ as your subject for the Summit?
I chose the topic to explore issues, roles and contributions of the youth sector in an effort to expand on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used responsibly, and how young people can have a say about matters that concern their present and future. There is no doubt artificial intelligence will bring about fundamental changes to society, affecting everything from business to government, work life to personal time. Artificial Intelligence is our next big wave in technology, and will have an impact on the youth around the world.

Dr Shaison Ouseph
“Artificial Intelligence is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and it’s the youth of today who are going to define the use of these technologies.”
— DR SHAISON P. OUSEPH

What, in brief, is Artificial Intelligence?
The meaning and definition of Artificial Intelligence has changed as technology evolved, and will continue to change. Most scientists define Artificial Intelligence as “a set of sciences, theories, and techniques the purpose of which is to reproduce by machine the cognitive abilities of a human being”. The current definition focuses more on Artificial Intelligence as a subset of computer science which attempts to be human-like, rather than being human.

There are three main types of Artificial Intelligence: 1) Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), 2) Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), and 3) Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI, more capable than a human.

Artificial Narrow Intelligence is the only type of artificial intelligence we have successfully realized to date. It is goal-oriented, and designed to perform singular tasks like facial recognition, speech recognition/voice assistants, driving a car, or searching the internet.

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is the concept of a machine with general intelligence that mimics human intelligence or behaviour, with the ability to learn and apply it to solve problems. AGI can think, understand, and act in a way that would be indistinguishable from that of a human in any given situation.

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) is the hypothetical Intelligence that doesn’t just mimic or understand human intelligence and behaviour; but surpasses the capacity of human intelligence and ability. 

In short, Artificial Intelligence in its current form and application is a branch of computer science that endeavours to replicate or simulate human intelligence in a machine, so the machine can perform tasks that require human intelligence.

Will robots take over the world?
The idea of a ‘film version’ apocalypse in which the world is taken over by autonomous, self-thinking robots who want to destroy humanity is still much in the realm of science fiction, more than science fact. Some experts think that Artificial General Intelligence and Artificial Super Intelligence are currently still out of our grasp, so we don’t need to worry too much about that specific scenario.

However, that is not to say that Artificial Intelligence won’t ever pose a serious threat to our world and society if used incorrectly. AI could easily be programmed to do something devastating. On the other hand, AI (robots) are already taking over the world in the fields of medicine, diagnostics, surgery, and other areas such as manufacturing and industry. Many of these could transform technology and industry to benefit our lives if implemented responsibly. At the same time we must proceed with cautious optimism as we integrate these new systems, and stay ahead of the curve in terms of regulating new technologies where there is potential to do harm.

What is the future of Artificial Intelligence?
This is the burning question. Are we capable of achieving strong Artificial Super Intelligence? Optimistic experts believe Artificial General Intelligence and Artificial Super Intelligence are possible, but it’s very difficult to determine how far away we are from realizing these levels. 

For now, one of the greatest concerns we face with regard to narrow Artificial Intelligence technologies, is the prospect of efficient goal-oriented automation causing many human jobs to become obsolete. These are the issues that are going to fall on the youth of today, which is why we need to start thinking seriously now about how young people are going to navigate the future of these technologies.

Artificial Intelligence is very closely related to young people. The world is going to move forward in one direction or another. Artificial Intelligence is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and it’s the youth of today who are going to define the use of these technologies. Yet, there is relatively little research and information about how AI will impact young people and their transition into a world where life as we know is changing. As new systems progress we need to safeguard what is fundamentally important to human life, and make sure that our youth will continue to have autonomy regarding their well-being, have more opportunities for success than the previous generations.

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