In other fields, innovation can feel sluggish, but with artificial intelligence (AI), progress is in hyperdrive. Tech companies are spending billions of dollars to blow past their current limits, and the momentum is feeding on itself.
The pace of advancement is so rapid that it’s often hard to keep up, even for scientists who work in the field. This breathless energy is largely due to AI’s scalability: Throw more data and money into a neural network, and it gets better and faster.
This approach is transforming the entire industry. It’s not just personal assistants or self-driving cars; it’s also advanced robotics, biochip implants that restore sight and hearing, and new ways to use existing assistive technology. And it’s enabling the future of medicine and education.
But the rapid pace of progress brings with it significant risks. For one, as the field pushes ever further into uncharted territory, we’re encountering the same kinds of moral quandaries that were raised in vintage issues of Omni magazine.
One concern is that AI may create new kinds of social and economic divisions. Personalized news feeds, for example, could reinforce people’s existing beliefs and exacerbate polarization. To combat this, companies need to promote media literacy and critical thinking skills, while ensuring that algorithms are transparent enough to prevent bias and manipulation.
Another risk is the possibility that AI will become more powerful than humans and take over. This scenario isn’t completely out of the question, as the fastest-growing technology companies are currently investing billions into the development of AI systems that can do everything from predicting protein structures to composing rudimentary movies.
But it’s worth noting that no one is overseeing the development of these systems. Unlike, say, viruses or nuclear power, which are controlled in carefully-constrained labs, there are no clear guidelines about how to develop AI. That leaves it wide open to misuse. omnivoid ai