With all this talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the technological revolution that comes along with it, only a select few may have considered the consequences of this amazing technology. There are some who specifically challenge the notion that AI is good for mankind, and is in fact, making people stupider.
That is an interesting position. Consider that smartphones these days are able to do the task of multiple archaic devices such as a calculator, stopwatch, calendar, timer, radio, or television — just to name a few. With AI assistants being integrated in smartphones, you can simply tell it what you want to do, such as text a certain person, or set up a meeting with someone, and it does so without any fuss. Soon, we may find AI doing things automatically based on our location, who we are with, or the time of day, without us telling it to do so. Convenient? Terribly so, but there are those who insist that this culture of technological conveniences will make people dumber.
That is a notion that can certainly be argued. Here’s one scenario. In olden times, when we researched things in the library, we forced ourselves to retain tons of information we needed for an exam or project. During that process, this information, though not everything, was stored in our brains and we can still recall some of it even after a period of years. Now, because we tend to Google anything using our phones, there’s far less pressure for memorizing information. If you forget it, you just whip your phone out and can Google it again.
To be fair, maybe we aren’t getting dumber. Just lazier.
Here is another example. Pilots have auto-pilot systems which help them especially on long-haul flights. This is not a bad thing, but if you think about it, it just gives pilot something less to do while in the air. And the same thing could happen when self-driving cars with fully autonomous features are made available to the masses. It could be a good thing as these vehicles can communicate with one another to prevent an accident, but it also absolves drivers from practicing better driving because they just need to engage self-driving mode on and they’re good to go. The day may come when driving a vehicle will be a lost skill. Think of the current generation and their overall ability to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission. Automatic transmissions are dependable, affordable, and soooo easy, so why bother?
Almost everything now seems to be able to connect to the Internet and our smartphones are getting smarter as they are able to do more tasks. AI assistants are being integrated in more devices and services. It may only be a matter of time before we’re so dependent on AI that we find ourselves lost when we are without these technological enhancements. What would you do when everything that powers on suddenly decides to not turn on? Will you still be able to do your normal routine or will your world come crashing down on you?
I worry about our next generation. And the one after. Perhaps then, the robots will reign. But that’s for another story.
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