Is AI a threat to society?

AI brings with it fundamental changes to society and the workplace. Change is daunting and being skeptical toward changes is deeply embedded in human nature.

In popular discussions concerning AI, this skepticism has been fueled by media hype, which has tended to lead with the scariest headlines without fully examining what state the technology is in. Undoubtedly, there are future scenarios that could make the reckless use of AI a problem. But it's a far less relevant threat today than AI being used irresponsibly by humans.

AI will not take all jobs or turn on humanity
Assignments that can be broken down into processes that are easy to repeat are more likely to be automated by AI. But, like any other technical revolution, AI will create new jobs by augmenting and complementing humans in ways that make them do their jobs faster and better.

When looking under the hood at the latest advancements in AI, it becomes clear that AI won’t be surpassing human intelligence any time soon as it’s still only capable of tackling very specific tasks. What makes humans so uniquely intelligent is our capacity to prioritize and align millions of small pieces of knowledge, perception and instinct into a decision-making marvel that’s as difficult to fully understand as it is to replicate.

AI could potentially be put to negative uses in the same way any technology can. But, any fear that machines will “turn” on humans relies on the misconception that machines have wants the same way humans do. Fundamentally, machines don’t want anything at all; they exist only to carry out operations for humans, albeit very complex ones, and anything beyond that is only a distant hypothetical.

AI will change society perhaps more rapidly than most technological revolutions ever have.
Whether that makes it a threat to humanity and our jobs or a monumental asset to them will depend on how we respond to AI and what we choose to do with it. Everyone working with AI, including governments and regulators, needs to be proactive in ensuring responsible innovation and sustainable solutions to potential societal and ethical implications of the technology. On an individual level, learning about and working with AI gives society the best chance to foresee any pitfalls in AI’s ascent before they arrive and do something about them rather than letting them simply happen to us.

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