Dr. Toby Walsh, a leading Australian artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, recently warned about the future that AI will produce. He’s issued a call for discussion about the implementation of guidelines that could limit AI’s influence. In his book, It’s Alive!: Artificial Intelligence from the Logic Piano to Killer Robots, Dr. Walsh tells us how he believes the world could change in the next 30 years, according to ABC News.
According to Dr. Walsh, roads will be much safer without humans driving drunk, tired, and/or distracted. There will likely be far less congestion as network vehicles constantly service passengers. Transportation will be cheaper and, since autonomous vehicles will be all over the place, most people will not bother to buy a car or even learn how to drive.
By 2050, Dr. Walsh predicts that we will all have a personal AI doctor that knows our vulnerabilities to particular diseases, as well as our gene sequence. Our “doctors” will monitor our blood pressure, sugar levels, hydration, and other factors to make sure we are always healthy. It will even call for help if we faint. AI doctors will be so important, he predicts they are going to be a trillion-dollar business.
The gaming industry and Hollywood will merge and, through technology, immerse us in hyper-real worlds in which anyone’s avatar can be present, including those of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe. This combined industry will cause major concerns, as there may be addicts that spend most of their time in the virtual world, as well as people who use it for distasteful and illegal activities.
AIs are already starting to take some jobs, but in the future your boss will likely be a bot who has the power to hire and fire you, according to its best judgement. AI systems are expected to increasingly manage our work: they will schedule our activities, approve vacation, monitor our performance, and so on. According to Dr. Walsh, we’ll have to learn to tell computers when some of these things cannot be done, as hiring and firing someone might be over a bot’s head for the time being.
In 2050, we will walk into our house and ask it to turn on the lights or read us the news. Some people will resist and live a 20th century-style life, but most of us will have smart fridges, pots, bicycles, and toasters, for example. This essentially means our privacy will be a thing of the past, as AIs will always be listening. As Dr. Walsh stated, “Our privacy, diversity and democracy will be challenged.”
Phishing and malware attacks are peanuts compared to what we will see in the future. AI hackers are going to be a lot more effective than human hackers, and will often only be stopped by other AI programs designed to protect us. Those AIs might then be turned around to attack our systems, and this could be one of the biggest challenges we will have to face. According to Dr. Walsh, “Banks [and other companies and governments] will have no choice but to invest more and more in sophisticated AI systems to defend themselves from attack.”
After watching every sports competition we have ever recorded, teams filled with AI agents that can calculate every play with precision in a specific sport will use that knowledge to start beating us, just like they did in chess and Go.
AI teams will be so good, even their fans will want to give humans a break, and as such most teams will continue to employ human athletes. Nevertheless, AI systems will change sports management.
Autonomous vehicles will be all over the place, and as such safety and efficiency will be significantly improved in the future. Dr. Walsh believes that trains and planes carrying cargo will be the first to go autonomous, but after several safe trips, people will start trusting that AIs are ready to help them move through the skies.
Most articles you read — including this one — are written by humans, but in the future things might not be that way. AI agents are currently capable of writing simple financial and sports stories, but as technology evolves, they will begin to take over the news and humans will soon be out of the business entirely. Avatars and chatbots will start presenting the news on TV, which will be tailored to an individual’s personal preferences. This might not be a good thing, as Dr. Walsh has noted: “There will be ongoing debate about the biases of algorithms, especially when humans take no part in deciding what news we see”
The most disturbing prediction made by Dr. Walsh: after we die, we will leave behind AI chatbots that talk like us, know our life story, and comfort our family. They will be able to read our wills and even help relieve our loved ones’ grief through humor. This will invariably spark a lively debate, as various questions will need to be answered. Who can turn off our bot after we die? Do bots have freedom of speech? Should AI be allowed to engage in political discourse?
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