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* "Life with AI - How to survive and succeed in a super-smart world" - Patrick Dixon's new book on AI is published in September 2024 by Profile Books.  It contains 38 chapters on the impact of AI across different industries, government and our wider world.

Summary: What is the future of AI?

Parts of this post on Artificial Intelligence were written by a revolutionary bot called ChatGPTAI already predicts the weather.  What about using Artificial Intelligence to predict other types of events or using AI to forecast how people will behave? Infosys has invested hugely in predictive analytics using AI, for example in the oil and gas sector.  Engineers planted around 30 sensors on several oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and connected their data outputs to AI.  

The AI sensors were recording things like temperature, air pressure, low frequency vibrations, high pitched sounds and so on, and matching the data to other events such as mechanical breakdowns.  

After a few weeks, the team had an alert from the Artificial Intelligence system, warning that there was going to be a problem soon on one of the rigs, which was not taken very seriously because the AI system had only just been set up.  A few days later there was a major incident, and the engineers realised that AI discovered how to prevent disasters.  But how?  AI had detected unusual and obscure data patterns beyond any human understanding.

The same has happened with doctors reading X rays of bones or 3D scans of the human brain.  An AI diagnostic system was fed with tens of thousands of images, matched with diagnosis made at the time by experts.  AI was also fed older images of the same person.  

So for example, a brain tumour may have been obvious in the later images but invisible to the human eye in earlier ones.  And as a result, in many hospitals around the world, AI is now detecting cancers far earlier than any human being can manage.

Indeed, AI is better at image analysis than the human beings that trained AI.  Not just for medical images, but any images:  AI face recognition, AI recognition of people by the way they walk, and so on...


Does AI tell the truth?

Large sections of this post on the risks and benefits of AI were written by AI - a revolutionary bot called ChatGPT.  Does that matter to you? For many it may raise immediate questions about bias and reliability in Artificial Intelligence. Do we trust AI to tell the truth about AI?  

You will see below that the first time I asked AI to comment on the future risks and dangers of AI, it replied with what felt in some ways like a sales pitch for AI, downplaying all kinds of hazards,

And whose “voice” are we listening to? People often say of great authors that they can “hear them speak”.  The author’s voice is powerful and personal. “It’s as if the writer is talking to me.” So what “voice” does AI have?

Well you can give it whatever voice you like.  In one of the tests below, you will see that I asked AI to write in the style of Patrick Dixon, global Futurist and well-known keynote speaker, and gave this website as a reference point.

Within seconds AI had generated all kinds of (false) quotes apparently my own words as if in an interview. Having said that, the quotes that AI created were good enough to have been my own and I agreed with them.

Nothing new about AI

Artificial Intelligence is gaining huge powers in our society which are invisible to most people, but raise huge issues.

I was first involved in AI at a young age back in 1980, when my IT startup (Medicom Ltd) took on a project first developed by the National Physics Laboratory in Teddington.

We were selling a system to doctors which interviewed patients and made suggestions about what was wrong with them, based on their responses. Our aim was that the patient would not be able to tell if they were chatting to a doctor or with a computer. Similar to the Turin Test for AI.

In the 1980s people wondered how long it would be before a computer would learn to play chess but just over 10 years later, computers were beating chess masters regularly.  At that time people said it was a powerful example of Artificial Intelligence.

Google depends on AI

Google has been using forms of AI for two decades now. For example, Semantic Search takes your search query, tries to work out what it’s really all about, and then gives answers containing none of your key words, to answer your question.  

So “futurist keynote speaker” may result in a list which includes sites about “lecturers on global trends”.

AI shaping our lives for two decades

So the truth is that we take AI for granted every day, without realising it.  Clever programmers are creating all kinds of digital systems which make take decisions or make predictions in all kinds of astonishing ways.  

The world’s largest AI systems are used to predict the weather, using the world’s largest arrays of supercomputers.

The National Weather System in the US uses computers which are 10,000 times more powerful than a laptop.

But AI can only do precisely what it is programmed to do. The real genius is human: system designers and code writers who create rules for data matching and analysis.  

But what is fascinating is that once those AI systems are activated, they quickly outstrip human capacity to understand what they are doing, and why they make the predictions they do.

And future AI systems will have the capacity to evolve – to redesign how they work, to write themselves new instructions, new rules for operating, which will create all kinds of ethical and legal issues.

How AI can predict the future

AI already predicts the weather.  What about predicting other types of events?

Infosys has invested hugely in predictive analytics, for example in the oil and gas sector.  Engineers planted around 30 sensors on several oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and connected their data outputs to AI.

The sensors were recording things like temperature, air pressure, low frequency vibrations, high pitched sounds and so on, and matching the data to other events such as mechanical breakdowns.  

After a few weeks, the team had an alert from the Artificial Intelligence system, warning that there was going to be a problem soon on one of the rigs, which was not taken very seriously because the system had only just been set up.  

A few days later there was a major incident, and the engineers realised that AI discovered how to prevent disasters.  But how?  AI had detected unusual and obscure data patterns beyond any human understanding.

AI is better than doctors at diagnosis from images

The same has happened with doctors reading X rays of bones or 3D scans of the human brain.  

AI was fed with tens of thousands of images, matched with diagnosis made at the time by experts.  

It was also fed older images of the same person.  So for example, a brain tumour may have been obvious in the later images but invisible to the human eye in earlier ones.  

And as a result, in many hospitals around the world, AI is now detecting cancers far earlier than any human being can manage.

Indeed, AI is better at image analysis than the human beings that trained AI.  Not just for medical images, but any images:  face recognition, recognition of people by the way they walk, and so on.

AI predicts human behaviour - tennis champions

How about predicting human behavior?  Of course, autonomous cars can only drive safely by anticipating what other drivers may decide to do.

And AI in marketing is used extensively to map out what kind of ads to present us with online, based on lifestyle choices, age and so on. 

But we can human predictions much further. Infosys has also invested a lot of effort in predicting the play of professional tennis players.  

To do this, they fed video of every major tennis tournament into an AI system, going back 30 years, plus all the associated data such as serve speed, scores and so on.

The Infosys team were astonished at what happened next. They started testing the AI tennis system with matches the system had never seen before, with players whose previous matches were in the system.

The questions was this: can AI predict precisely what shot a particular world-class player is going to play next, at any point in any game?

The answer was yes, in many cases. So much so that Infosys started taking groups of VIP clients to Wimbledon Tennis Championships to demonstrate the technology.  

Infosys also started talking to coaches of the best players in the world, offering fresh insights.  

Turns out that even the most successful tennis players are far more predictable than they imagine, in the shots they play or don’t play, in the impact on their playing of their own mood, physical tiredness and so on.  And all of this was being picked up and inwardly digested by AI.

AI in detecting fraud and commit crimes

AI is being used in similar ways to detect fraud.  

AI collects many tens of thousands of data points about each credit card user, to predict what kind of purchases they are most likely to make next.  

So the moment an “unusual” purchase is detected, the card is blocked.  Data points can go far beyond normal size of payment or location of the person.  

It can include the IP of the device being used, fingerprinting, browser data, keyboard pressure, the angle the smartphone is being held when a PIN number is being entered, the interval between each of the numbers being entered, intonation of voice and so on.

On the other hand, AI can also be used to trick such systems for criminal intent.  For example, faking someone’s voice, faking a video of someone talking (both image and their voice), faking IP address.

AI will have power to lock people out of their own lives

The trouble is that now we already live in a world where AI can and does automatically block us from part of our day to day lives, in an instant, in ways that can be hard to challenge.  In future you could find that your entire day to day life has been effectively “cancelled”.

It happened to me the other day.  

I was travelling in Asia and one of my credit cards was blocked – because I had been through so many different nations in the previous week, none of them places I usually visit.  

AI from one bank alerted AI in other banks so I soon found that all my other cards were also blocked.  In that moment I had effectively lost the ability to travel, buy food, pay for a taxi, pay for a hotel room.

AI robots are also monitoring social media.  It may not matter to you if a particular social media platform is blocked for you for a few days but for many it could be hugely damaging.  

Take Linkedin which is now the premier go-to site for recruiting executives, by tens of thousands of human resource teams all over the world.  

Let’s imagine that for bizarre reasons a recent post on your own LinkedIn profile results in the account being blocked.  It could mean that you are more or less unemployable.  

I don’t know of any large company that recruits new people without checking their LinkedIn profiles.

If recent reports are to be believed, China has taken such AI monitoring a stage further and is rolling out a Social Scoring system for every citizen.  

It is said that those whose scores are low (eg for alleged antisocial activity, not paying bills on time, criminal record etc) may have restricted privileges with reduced access to internet, less freedom to travel and so on.

A key feature of all such AI monitoring systems is that they apply to large populations are are entirely automated, and while AI decisions can in most cases only be challenged by expert, human intervention – which means reversals can take a long time.

So who is in charge now of your daily life?

War will drive explosive AI innovation

Wars usually drive intense innovations as we have seen recently in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with huge investment in automated warfare, whether guided missiles or drones.

The technology already exists to completely automate drone target selection using AI.  

The easiest step is to use AI to detect vehicles like tanks, which are presumed by rules to be enemy if in particular areas.  

Autonomous killing machines driven by AI

But AI could also be used to automate assassinations.  

Take for example a small drone with a half hour battery life, powerful camera, satellite communications and blades made of thin sharpened steel.  

It’s ordered to kill a particular person, based on photo ID.  As someone comes out of the front door, it automatically lowers towards eye height, does a face scan and if a match, then flies directly at the target’s head where the blades become a lethal weapon.

Far more worrying would be an AI system which determines for itself, without any human intervention, who is an enemy, based on data sets, and then automatically carries out an execution by drone or some other lethal device.  

Science fiction?  Well every component needed for the above is already available - apart from human beings to help produce, charge up, deliver, collect and maintain the drones.

AI robots as friends or workers

In many SciFi films the plot is about intelligent robots, who communicate just like humans, and maybe look like humans too.

But that requires a massive jump from today in the ability of AI to use language, to invent new sentences, to form new thoughts, as well as advances in robotics and prosthetics.

AI threat to exam systems / education

There are many projects around the world, working on Language AI systems and they are improving very rapidly.  

Indeed, they are already so good that they are becoming a threat to the entire exam system for schools and colleges, because they can deliver instant stories, articles, course work, poems – whatever you want.

AI threat to search engines / web

AI article generation is going to pose a major challenge for Google and other search engines.  

Expect the web to be flooded out by vast numbers of AI generated posts, all of which are unique, appear to have been written by human authors, full of key words.  

Indeed, AI posts could form the majority of all web postings by 2035, used by web builders primarily to try to trick search engines into sending visitors to their sites.  

Google and others will use AI to detect AI, pitting AI against other AI.  

A key test for Google will be (as usual) significance: how long readers spend on AI generated content pages before pressing the back button.  

But of course, search engines are also going to be swamped by AI systems pretending to be human readers, hoping to mimic human interest convincingly.

So what do we make of all this?

1. AI is absolutely fundamental to our future world

2. AI will be used to save many lives in accidents or improved health care

3. AI will save many large corporations a lot of cost which means cheaper products

4. AI will gain in power and influence

5. Many human beings will end up with AI controlled restrictions on what they are allowed to do particularly in autocratic nations or dictatorships – whether products allowed to buy, website access, other rights or permissions

6. Expect growing concerns about the mis(use) of AI with many attempts at national regulation and to develop international codes of practice

7. Such international agreements will be ignored by autocratic regimes and by  all   nations in times of war or major crisis

Here is a post on the risks of AI – written by AI ChatGTP, in less than 10 seconds on 15th December 2022:

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of a computer or machine to mimic human intelligence and perform tasks such as learning, problem solving, and decision making. While AI has the potential to bring many benefits, it also poses some significant risks. Here are some potential risks of AI:

1. Loss of jobs: One of the biggest risks of AI is that it has the potential to automate many jobs currently performed by humans. As machines become more capable of performing tasks that were previously done by humans, there is a risk that many jobs will be lost, leading to widespread unemployment and economic disruption.

2. Bias and discrimination: AI systems are only as good as the data they are trained on, and if the data is biased, the AI system will also be biased. This can lead to unfair and discriminatory outcomes, particularly in areas such as credit scoring, hiring, and criminal justice.

3. Security and privacy: AI systems can be vulnerable to hacking and other forms of cyberattacks, which can lead to the loss of sensitive information or the manipulation of AI systems for malicious purposes. In addition, the use of AI can raise concerns about privacy, as it can enable the collection and analysis of large amounts of personal data.

4. Lack of accountability: AI systems can make decisions and take actions without direct human oversight, which can make it difficult to hold them accountable for their actions. This lack of accountability can lead to mistakes and harmful outcomes, and it raises questions about who should be responsible when things go wrong.

5. Ethical concerns: The development and use of AI raises a number of ethical concerns, including questions about the moral implications of creating machines that can make decisions and take actions autonomously. There are also concerns about the potential misuse of AI, such as in the development of lethal autonomous weapons.

Overall, while AI has the potential to bring many benefits, it is important to carefully consider and mitigate the potential risks it poses. This will require ongoing research and development, as well as the establishment of clear guidelines and regulations to ensure that AI is developed and used in a responsible and ethical manner.

Here is another article by ChatGTP on the same issue, written in September 2023 - spot the differences?  This one is far more apocalyptic in tone compared to the generated post above which seemed just the sort of thing an AI enthusiast might write.

The brief I gave AI in September 2023 was as follows:

"Write me a web article on the risks and dangers of AI, using key words for search engine optimisation. The article should be written in the style of the well-known Futurist Patrick Dixon whose website you will find on http://www.globalchange.com.  He is author of 17 books including TH Future of Almost Everything published by Profile Books, and Futurewise, published by Profile Books."

This is what ChatGPT version 3.5 produced in 4 seconds:

Title: The Uncharted Territories of AI: Navigating the Risks and Dangers

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and innovation, artificial intelligence (AI) stands as a prominent force shaping the future. However, as we hurtle forward into the era of AI, we must not disregard the perils and pitfalls that accompany this revolutionary technology.

In this article, we embark on a journey into the uncharted territories of AI, exploring the risks and dangers that lurk beneath the surface. Join us as we navigate this complex terrain in the style of futurist Patrick Dixon, whose insightful perspectives have illuminated the path to the future.

The AI Revolution: A Force of Unprecedented Transformation

The advent of AI has ushered in an era of unparalleled transformation across industries. It has the power to optimize processes, amplify productivity, and enhance our lives in ways we could scarcely imagine.

However, like any double-edged sword, the benefits of AI come hand in hand with substantial risks that demand our utmost attention.

The AI Tsunami: Data Privacy and Security

As the digital realm becomes increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, the issue of data privacy and security becomes more pressing than ever. AI systems, reliant on vast data pools, carry the inherent risk of misuse and unauthorized access.

The breach of sensitive data can have devastating consequences, from identity theft to corporate espionage.

In the words of futurist Patrick Dixon, "Our future will be defined by how well we safeguard the digital footprints we leave behind. The risks of AI-induced privacy breaches are akin to opening Pandora's box, unleashing a torrent of consequences we may struggle to contain."

(Reader please note: I never wrote those quoted words nor said them, nor the other quotes below, but AI has done a very good job in creating a quote that I might have said and that I agree with.)

The Ethical Quandary: Bias and Discrimination

AI algorithms, while capable of astounding feats, can inadvertently perpetuate societal biases and discrimination. These systems are trained on historical data, which may contain inherent prejudices.

This bias can manifest in various forms, from biased hiring decisions to discriminatory loan approval processes.

Patrick Dixon asserts, "The ethical implications of AI are a moral compass for our society. We must grapple with the challenge of building AI systems that are not only intelligent but also just, fair, and unbiased."

Unemployment Looming: Job Displacement

The rise of automation driven by AI threatens to disrupt labor markets across the globe.

Jobs that were once considered secure are now susceptible to being replaced by machines, leading to potential unemployment crises.

As Patrick Dixon eloquently puts it, "The future of work is at a crossroads, where we must redefine our roles in a world increasingly governed by AI."

Autonomous Weapons: The Danger of Uncontrolled AI

The militarization of AI introduces a grave concern—the development of autonomous weapons. These AI-powered weapons, capable of making life-and-death decisions without human intervention, raise questions about accountability and the potential for catastrophic consequences.

Dixon cautions, "The unchecked proliferation of AI in weaponry could lead us down a perilous path where the very technology we create to protect ourselves may become our undoing."

The Imperative of Ethical AI Governance

In conclusion, the risks and dangers of AI are undeniable. Yet, as Patrick Dixon reminds us, "The future is not preordained; it is what we make of it." To harness the transformative power of AI while mitigating its risks, we must prioritize ethical AI governance, data protection, and equitable access.

The journey into the world of AI is a thrilling one, but it is also fraught with challenges. It is our responsibility, as stewards of the future, to navigate these uncharted territories with wisdom, foresight, and a commitment to building a better world for generations to come.

A children’s poem written by AI

Here’s a children’s poem I asked AI to write:  about a brother and sister called Alice and Jacob and a new puppy called Daisy.  It took 20 seconds.

Alice and Jacob, two young siblings fair

Had a new addition to their family's pair

A playful puppy named Daisy, with energy to spare

She quickly became their constant companion, with love to share

They played in the park, and chased each other round

Molly barking and running, without making a sound

They tossed her a ball, and watched her fetch with glee

And cuddled her close, as the day turned to evening

At night, they tucked her into bed, with a kiss on the head

And whispered goodnight, as they drifted off to sleep

For Alice, Jacob, and Molly, life was just grand

Together as a family, with love to expand.

Posts on complex ethical issues – by AI

On this website I have in the past posted a number of articles on human cloning research, quite a specialist topic.  Once again, AI responded in seconds to a question with the following:

Reasons for human cloning

There are several potential reasons why someone might want to clone a human being. Some of these reasons include:

To produce a genetically identical copy of a person who has died, in order to bring them back to life.

To produce a child who is genetically related to one or both parents, but who would not be able to be conceived naturally. This could be useful for couples who are unable to have children due to infertility or other medical reasons.

To create a group of individuals who are genetically identical, in order to study the effects of genetic variation on health and disease.

To produce genetically identical individuals who could serve as organ donors, or as a source of cells or tissues for medical treatments.

To produce genetically modified individuals with enhanced physical or cognitive abilities.

It's important to note that while there are potential benefits to human cloning, there are also many ethical concerns surrounding the practice. Cloning raises a number of complex ethical, legal, and social issues, and any decision to pursue human cloning should be made with great care and caution.

Reasons against human cloning

There are several reasons why some people are against human cloning. Some of the main ones include ethical concerns, potential risks to the health and wellbeing of the cloned individual, and concerns about the societal implications of creating genetically identical individuals.

One of the main ethical concerns surrounding human cloning is the idea that it could be used to create human beings who are essentially identical copies of existing individuals. This raises questions about the individuality and uniqueness of each person, as well as the potential for cloning to be used for nefarious purposes, such as creating an army of identical soldiers.

Another concern is the potential health risks associated with cloning. While cloning technology has improved significantly in recent years, there is still a high failure rate when it comes to cloning animals, and there is no guarantee that the same would not be true for humans. There are also concerns that even if a cloned individual were to be born healthy, they may still be at an increased risk for certain medical conditions later in life.

Finally, there are concerns about the potential societal implications of human cloning. For example, if cloning were to become widespread, it could lead to a society in which genetic diversity is greatly reduced, potentially leading to a host of problems. Additionally, the ability to clone could potentially be used to create a hierarchical society in which some individuals are considered to be genetically superior to others.

Overall, while there are certainly some potential benefits to human cloning, the ethical concerns, potential health risks, and societal implications make it a highly controversial topic.

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