AI – A Necessary Evil? by Krisha Makharia
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the way we all live, our personal life, our occupation, our education, our relationship with other human beings and non-living beings, how we get to fulfil our aspirations etc. AI (and generative AI) is the next biggest transformation we are all witnessing and luckiest to be part of this historical journey.
Introduction to AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the way we all live, our personal life, our occupation, our education, our relationship with other human beings and non-living beings, how we get to fulfil our aspirations etc. Internet was considered to be the biggest technological transformation and made us all inter-connected on real time basis. It indeed increases our access to information, enhances our knowledge, changed the way the business was conducted, enhanced efficiency, and made the world one marketplace.
AI (and generative AI) is the next biggest transformation we are all witnessing and luckiest to be part of this historical journey. AI is seeking usage responses coming across the globe, sectors, private or government offices, consumers etc. Having said that technology is still evolving, not well regulated, and could be prone to misuse. Though benefits of AI are evident, but time will give verdict whether it is a boon or a necessary evil
What is AI (as understood by me) and Generative AI?
In the Summer of 1956, a group of mathematicians and computer scientists took over the top floor of the building that housed the mathematics department of Dartmouth College. For about eight weeks, they imagined the possibilities of a new field of research. John McCarthy, then a young professor, had coined the term “artificial intelligence” when he wrote his proposal for the workshop, which he said would explore the hypothesis that “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.” The researchers at that legendary meeting sketched out, in broad strokes, AI as we know it today.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in simple terms is using computers and machines (science) to perform certain task which otherwise is performed by human mind. Such task may include analysis of voluminous data, problem solving, and decision making. As mentioned by Deutsche Bank in their report “AI in action dated June 2023” Generative AI is a general-purpose technology that takes unstructured data e.g. text/images, turns them into a digital asset, processes it, and generates a new text or image etc., foundation models can be quickly find-tuned to perform myriad task.
In subsequent sections I have presented my thoughts on usage of AI, integration of AI with other products and system, and fear of pitfalls of this transformation. The key objective being to understand the effects of AI as it touches major aspects of our daily life.
Some of the examples cited in the report may appear to be of automation and not AI. Mechanical automation is from industrial age technologies but IT automation is the path that leads to development and usage of AI
While undertaking this research I have relied on:
● My personal experiences in life as a student and a consumer
● My mentor for this project Mr. Mohit Kumar, Bachelor in Engineering and MBA, currently working as President with Podar Enterprise group. Amongst various responsibilities he is also leading group’s IT projects and digitization. Podar Enterprise (an over 100 years group), is into education, housing and sanitization, consulting etc.
● Relied on various articles, published material reference of which has been given in relevant sections of the report
● Brief conversation with Mr. D. Sundaram, Board Member of Infosys Limited
● Brief conversation with Professor Abir De at IIT, Bombay (who is undertaking research on Generative AI), and
● Interactions with general public selectively to know their views on this
My sincere gratitude to my mentor for this project Mr. Mohit Kumar, Mr. Sundaram and Professor Abir De for guiding me, challenging me and also providing deeper insights
About Miss Krisha Makharia:
Krisha is a 12th standard student with Jamnabai Narsee International School, JVPD, Mumbai. She is pursuing her International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). She can be reached on email@example.com
Section I: Level of involvement of AI in our daily life
As a teenager or a student, my life (or daily routine) is incomplete without social media, OTT, my mobile handset, e-commerce etc. Let’s know AI better through various level of involvement AI already has in our daily life rather than get too technical and sophistication around.
1) Personal Assistants and Customer service support/ helplines
We are now all familiar with Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant and they have become integral part of our life through our devices such as Smart TV, Smartphones, Smart Speakers, our Laptops, I-pads etc., helping us with various needs of ours including resolving our queries, guiding us to perform certain action to get what we want etc. On the lighter side my younger sister refers Siri being more friendly and helpful to her than me.
Such AI applications may not solely rely on voice commands but also leverage on vast databases. These applications parse numerous quanta of data per second to accomplish certain tasks and deliver the desired results. I had occasions to call malls, large stores, Bank, I witnessed most of them are using virtual assistants and chatbots. I remember I was relatively new to this concept a few years back particularly during the covid phase in when I got a bit exposed to this. Many of these 24/7 services are powered by AI. Relevant, prompt feedback/replies on a real time basis are given by such AI powered chatbots system by processing the Natural language. For instance, many branded apparel national and multi-national stores use such chatbots for customer servicing.
The consumer is becoming aware of such technologies and getting comfortable with their experiences.
2) Social media and tracking consumer behavior
Let me start with a real-life example. I was planning for our family vacation and therefore was carrying out searches for destinations, hotels etc. including checking some of Instagram accounts etc. Later I noticed in my Gmail account, I am getting advertisements (next to it on the site) related to the destination I searched. AI is working to track users, what they are looking for, their needs or preferences, and then accordingly address them by giving customized service or experience or satisfaction. Also, it is worth noting it not just about marketing or commerce, but AI powered social media could also take care of undesirable content including abusive language, fake news, fake content etc. by eliminated them.
A report compiled by OneSpot Research revealed that 88% of the surveyed consumers stated that more personalized content makes them feel better about a brand.
3) Autonomous and smart devices
We have all heard about the automated car of Tesla. Tesla is a great example of AI powered cars where you technically don’t need a human being to drive. Though for a moment it is difficult to accept something like this, as the immediate question obviously comes to our mind is whether are safe? However, it is believed by those technically familiar with the features of this AI powered vehicle that one should expect to be safer compared to human error which includes incident such as collision. Though I am yet to experience having a ride without human driver, I did interact with my uncle in USA – Houston, who recently bought a Tesla as part of this project. Path planning is being made possible through various predictive AI models. It is SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) technology that predicts accurately when neighboring vehicles will swerve, and other such unforeseen events are being taken into account.
I also visited my father’s office building in Bandra- Kurla Complex in Mumbai where it is the machine which takes your car for parking (without the driver) and gets back when you need, though may not be completely powered by AI but seems to be a comparable example with which one can relate. Other smart devices such as thermostats, lighting systems and security systems use AI and based on user preferences can deliver the outcome. Such systems are also well integrated with smart phones which in way act as a control panel or there are systems based on voice instructions. For instance, Philips Hue uses AI to adjust lighting based on user preferences and ambient light levels.
How can we miss talking about mobile keyboard apps with the features of autocorrection and language detection to provide a user-friendly experience. Such AI powered apps can efficiently rectify mistakes, predict the next word, translation and if required some of them also has options to swap languages. Apps such as Typewise and Swiftkey have gained popularity with integrated of over 300 languages and dialects.
4) Facial Recognition Technologies
We are familiar with the popular application of this technology as the Face ID unlock feature in our smartphones. Some of the players globally are also said to be working towards AI software that picks up facial expressions to identify mood and intention. Such AI powered software is the new area of consumer experience that’s emerging.
5) Entertainment, gamification and other content
We all became fairly used to OTT platforms such as Netflix and other streaming platforms like Spotify, and Hulu. Such platforms feed their content/data into ML algos for seamless experience of the users. Using AI to screen through the wide range of options/data such AI powered platforms create catalogs of music, movies, and TV series suited to each individual user's liking. AI usage goes beyond this, to also ensure uninterrupted streaming experience by using the servers which could be closer to us as users. Eventually it is all about consumer satisfaction not only from the content but also the way it is made available.
Gamified applications are now being designed to gauge the gamer's mental fortitude. This is helping to study various ways in which one can mitigate depression and anxiety in gamers or public in general.
6) Security and Surveillance
Large complexes, housing societies, factories, muti-storied departmental stores etc. it is difficult beyond a point to employ too many people to keep an eye on their numerous monitors and that too for constant monitoring. As a natural outcome the AI producers saw an opportunity to design automated systems powered by AI for such surveillance tasks. Such technologies reduce the cost of surveillance, making it more perfect and efficient with the human surveillants concentrating on critical aspects and act upon them.
From an access security perspective AI-based facial recognition software is being used by Government complex/offices.
7) Navigation and Travel
Most of us are regular users of AI programmed navigation apps like Google Maps.
Recently, researchers at MIT developed a navigation model that tags road features in digital maps, all in real-time. These digital maps are also created simultaneously based on satellite imagery incorporating information about cycling lanes and parking spots.
AI also helps ascertain routes on satellite images covered by natural overgrowth with the help of predictive models.
Section II: Two Categories for AI Usage
One can simply classify the way AI is being used in our everyday life into two broad streams.
1) Software/Methodology: Prominent examples of AI software used in everyday life include examples cited above such as voice assistants, facial recognition etc.
2) Embodied: The hardware side of AI includes its utilization in drones, automated and self-driven vehicles, assembly-line robots etc. This involves the design of specific devices that are based on AI capabilities.
As users of AI, we may not be too interested in getting into technicalities.
Section III: Various approaches to integrate AI seamlessly
Innovation is consistent but not constant. As we read this report something new in AI globally would have emerged. The expectation of technology user is very high whether it is to do with their personal life or occupation. The expectation of intelligence and innovation together leads to AI integration. Integration further only empowers the value of AI and its usage whether it is to do with business processes, decision making, automation, performing repetitive task etc. An illustrative approach to integration could be as follows.
1) Integration of products and AI software
Integration of AI in software and mobile apps can make them more usable, efficient, and intelligent. AI and ML are two powerful combinations for solving/addressing customer usage and services. For example:Apps like Ola, Uber and Google Maps use AI to provide the best possible route for their users. Such a feature helps the customer to reach faster and relatively more economical for all. Such real time features help in replacing the task to be otherwise performed by humans and that too with precision i.e. there is no human subjective assessment involved. OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime are another set of examples where there is a every growing viewer base, there is a trust in terms of quality of delivery, and therefore high customer loyalty. Their applications consider the customer’s preferences based on age (which may also be regulatory compliance), gender, location etc. We have all seen how our preferences are suggested by such platform instantly based on our profile and makes our life easy in terms of decided what to view. Ultimately it addresses convenience and easy decision making.
2) Integrating AI with business processes
AI automation today is rapidly reshaping industries and revolutionizing the workforce. According to a 2022 IBM Global AI Adoption Index report, 35% of companies are already leveraging AI automation in their operations, with an additional 42% actively exploring its potential. Today for any business to grow or even survive it has ensured it is globally competitive, innovative and delivers to the satisfaction of their customers. At the same time, it has to be commercially viable. Therefore, technology innovation and AI powering plays a key role for any efficiency, customer experience and their decision making. AI-powered automation seamlessly integrates artificial intelligence into various processes, thereby streamlining operations and enhancing efficiency. With the use of sophisticated algorithms, AI automation analyzes data, identifies patterns, and makes informed decisions, ensuring swift and accurate completion of repetitive tasks. Furthermore, it optimizes resource allocation, leading to a reduction in human errors and operational costs.
One can follow a 4-step process for AI integration:
a) Review the requirements of the organization particularly the processes where AI integration is required
b) Selected processes, basically which platform option is desirable
c) Checking for optimizing the benefits, and
d) Final integration
3) Integrating AI and social objectives
Whenever someone tries to take your data and attempts to impersonate any online transaction without your knowledge, the AI system can track the uncommon behavior and stop the transaction there and then. Governments across the global is tracking spending by its citizens, linking it to their tax database, with objective of maximizing revenue for the Country. Such leads to integration of credit numbers with PAN, Bank account, Aadhar etc.
Integration and linkage of vaccination during covid with Aadhaar was another great integration model in healthcare.
Section IV: Impact of AI and its Major benefits
We have a fair idea about what AI is and where all it can be implemented or rather has been implemented and the reasons for the same. This section I intend to specifically highlight the impact and benefits of AI:
1) Economic growth and larger public interest
2) Automation, managing tasks and enhancing productivity
3) Achieving social objectives such as disaster management and defense
4) Decision Making and solving problems which otherwise could be complex
5) Lifestyle and personalization
1) Economic growth and public interest
Economic and commercial use of AI would add to productivity and efficiency in various industries and sectors which would also result in overall growth of economy. Some of the studies being carried out suggest it could be in the region of $15 trillion. Such estimates are likely to only go up as time passes and we see further innovation, integration, acceptability and productivity. Such studies also suggest countries like China and North America may benefit the most, however there is no dearth of talent in India, like IteS India should certainly aspire to be major contributor in this field. What is desirable is there should be balance in usage of AI between the commercial and social purpose so that public at large benefits from this revolution rather restricting to select.
Therefore, sectors such as Defense, Healthcare, Education etc., is equally important for a balanced and inclusive benefit of AI.
2) Automation, managing tasks and enhancing productivity
Artificial Intelligence driven automation can perform tasks that involve extreme labor to the process of recruitment to managing logistics to undertaking customer surveys etc. Have we come across interesting AI powered recruitments? An example of this is the conversational AI recruiter MYA. Mya is trained by using advanced Machine Learning algorithms and it also uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to pick up on details that come up in a conversation. Mya creates candidate profiles, perform shortlisting based on certain criteria and then candidates get shortlisted. This could be very efficient for an organization where recruitments are quite a bit of task and is a continuous ongoing process such as facility management companies. Certain studies suggest AI has already made inroads into most of the companies and enhanced their productivity.
Increased Productivity – Benefits Of Artificial Intelligence – Edureka.
A differentiated example could be the Legal Robot. This AI powered tool can understand and analyse legal documents, find and fix critical legal errors, allows you to set a benchmark with industry practices so that you don’t loose out on any of the good practices. Performing repetitive tasks is not only frustrating, time consuming and may not be efficient from a cost perspective with humans performing it. We have many Banks using (AI) the Virtual Financial assistant with different names. Such AI empowered system operates with access of information about the client and most of the routine requirement cannot be sorted out through this rather than human intervention. This makes it very convenient for all and efficient. Examples which we relate to in our routine life are asking for bank balance, bank statement, requesting for cheque books etc.
Manage Repetitive Tasks – Benefits Of Artificial Intelligence – Edureka
3) Achieving social objectives such as disaster management and defense
Defense for obvious reasons is one of the most sensitive areas for any country or the government. From nuclear war we are now going towards the threat of a tech driven war.
Robots are being built and deep research being carried out keeping Defense application in mind. This may one such extreme use of technology but should be fine till is intentionally not misused. Use should more of a preventive measure rather than damaging.
The AI-based robot developed by the China is an example to cite where the robot can screen the criminal records of any human being, therefore acts like a police officer. This can be extremely useful in difficult terrains where human life is not easy.
For most of us, precise weather forecasting makes vacation planning easier, but even the smallest advancement in predicting the weather majorly impacts the market.
Many of us use weather forecasting as a tool to plan out our vacations. However, it’s usage goes beyond that from addressing the farmers requirement to saving peoples life as the government and society can take certain precautionary measures in advance.
Weather Forecast – Benefits Of Artificial Intelligence – Edureka
4) Decision Making and solving problems which otherwise could be complex
In today’s competitive world one needs smart decision making and not just decision making. Some of the smartness can be sourced through AI. AI has also transformed to advanced level over the years from simple Machine Learning algorithms to advanced machine learning concepts such as Deep Learning. This has resulted in AI helping in solving some of the complex issues such as fraud detection, medical diagnosis, weather forecasting and so on.
For example, PayPal is able to identify possible fraudulent activities very precisely.
5) Lifestyle and personalization
Various Research suggests that brands that excel at personalization deliver better sales, and profits returns. Just imagine how personalisation can be time-consuming, costly and limitation in terms of volume, human judgement error etc.
An example of this is the UK based fashion company ‘Thread’ that uses AI to provide personalized clothing recommendations for each customer.
Personalization – Benefits Of Artificial Intelligence – Edureka
It seems Thread uses a Machine Learning algorithm called Thimble that uses customer data to find patterns and understand the likes of the buyer. It then suggests clothes based on the customer’s taste.Won’t we all as consumers prefer personalised stylist without any additional cost and convenient in terms of access?
AI has completely changed our brands and product companies can sell to customers, meet their preferences, target them with right set of choices and overall enhance the customer experience. Have we all not experienced how Amazon monitors our browsing habits while google decides what results to give us and they are able to deliver this by tracking and analyzing our search activity.
If we have to summarize the benefits of AI it could be around reducing human error/intervention, efficiently and effectively handling big data, safety and security of data/information, faster and precise decision making, replacing humans for some of the repetitive tasks, improving workplaces and processes, give society a better life and being available at disposal 24X7.
Section V: Associated problems and pitfalls
The intention usually while developing any new technology is concerned is for the betterment of business and society. However, the possibility of the same being used against the interest of humankind cannot be ruled out. We have witnessed this how some of internet usage, drones and gaming sites have worked against the good of society. Though the pace of AI is exponential, it is equally important to ensure it is used for the right purpose and not abused against the good of society. While doing this research I came across a article in The Economics Times (front page no. 16 dated 3rd August, 2023, “Crooks blackmailing influencers using AI-made Deep nudes”) wherein it was mentioned there are AI tools which can produce naked picture/photo of anyone. Just imagine if AI is abused what danger it brings to all of us?
Some of pitfalls and risk of AI are highlighted below:
1) Loss of jobs: There is a belief or rather precedents where with automation there is a reduction in job/employment. The moot question is to what extent and is it something which can be addressed through alternate of options? There is also a fear of this leading to social-inequality. According to PwC, 7 million existing jobs will be replaced by AI in the UK from 2017-2037, but 7.2 million jobs could be created. This uncertainty and the changes to how some will make a living could be challenging.
2) Risk of overdependence on the technology and increased laziness in humans or loss of activity/active mind
3) Increasing usage of AI-driven communication and interactions could lead to diminished empathy, social skills, and human connections. This could have its on social implications in terms of inter-personal human relationship. A simple example could be earlier we use to know our bank branch manager and other staff well, now we know Siri and less of humans
4) AI should not be so proficient at doing the job it was designed to do that it crosses over ethical or legal boundaries otherwise it may negatively impact society.
5) AI technologies are getting intensely sophisticated, with sophistication also come sophisticated security risk relating to the potential for misuse. Hackers can leverage on AI to develop more advanced cyberattacks and bypass security measures
6) AI can further add to the risk of war which earlier was confined to nuclear war now AI enhances this risk further through autonomous weapons. It might be a situation where the nuclear arms race will be replaced with an autonomous weapon.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin said: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with enormous opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Imagine the danger with some irresponsible individual or government that doesn’t value human life.
7) AI needs commensurate hardware for many of the applications which means usage of other materials like plastic and other minerals for chips. This will have its own environment impact.
8) AI can be exploited to spread misinformation instantly leading to incorrect public opinion and sometimes decision making
9) Invasion of privacy is another major pitfall of AI. We are all getting tracked by various companies 24X7 and every move of us is getting analysed. When someone is watching you and making your decisions it’s not only an invasion of privacy, but it can also even result into social oppression.
10) Should humans develop non-human minds that would replace them and to some extent make human redundant? Would it impact our civilization?”
When Chatgpt was released a million people had used it within a week; 100m within two
months. It was soon being used to generate school essays and wedding speeches.
Section VI: Proposed applications of AI in coming years
AI is relatively new and evolving still an evolving technology. We have discussed some of the existing usages of AI while they exist but still there is a scope for further transformation and penetration. Some of desirable uses of AI application in coming years include:
1) AI can be further developed for personalized learnings and help students learn the way they want.
2) Meeting social objectives such as healthcare, public transportation and education, pollution, waste management etc. both public and private sector
AI may have an ability to provide the technology to detect disease based on symptoms without visiting a doctor? AI may read the data from Fitness band/medical history of an individual to analyze the pattern and suggest proper medication. This is just one such example when it comes to inclusive healthcare, similar possibilities exist for other social objectives to be met.
3) Space exploration: AI will be used to develop new technologies for exploring space and colonizing other planets. Astronomy is a largely unexplored topic currently.
4) AI-assisted Military technologies won’t need humans at all and therefore might be one of the safest ways to enhance the security of a nation. We can rule out a possibility of a military team with robots to perform certain task and then it becomes a AI powered war capability rather than anything else.
5) AI can transform the foreign policy of a Country. Today the policies are largely driven by power in terms of wealth, resources, climatic conditions etc. Going forward it would also consider the strength of a Country based on its positioning in AI.
6) Just thinking a loud whether AI can address the barrier of human language v/s animals.
Scope of AI exists in every field going forward, above just are some examples where the future is.
Section VII: Future predictions – Boon or Curse
Mr. D, Sundaram Board Member of Infosys Limited says
“New technologies like AI initially look threatening jobs of people and culture of work. But over time, people learn new skills and learn to do new jobs in domains like AI. When PCs and software’s came into operation in the early days same kind of fear prevailed, but over time new technologies create new and more jobs."
"AI can have unforeseen social implications which need careful handling through regulations and responsible behaviour."
My views are as follows:
1) Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence—perceiving, synthesizing, and inferring information—demonstrated by machines, as opposed to intelligence displayed by humans or by other animals. “Intelligence” encompasses the ability to learn and to reason, to generalize, and to infer meaning.
2) The dilemma is that the coming of AI is a blessing or a curse. One may term it as a bane claiming that the coming era of AI will be the destruction of humans because many jobs are likely to be taken over by robots.
3) The recent accelerated development of AI powered systems has made the tech community
worried whether one can control this safely. It is the question of human existence and not
loss of some jobs?
4) The counter argument is that we are unnecessarily feeling insecure and reminds us of days when computers were penetrating in every house, every office, factory etc. and some of people were of the view that computers would replace staff and there are massive job cuts and no jobs for public as large. Computers have only made us efficient, more productivity, skills have undergone a change and there is job for everyone.
5) The is no end to the debate of whether we are giving birth to another community which is alternate to humankind. To add not just alternate but even more efficient and powerful.
6) AI developers claim that eventually AI is a creation by humans for themselves and eventually they decide the programming or the task with AI powered tools need to perform.
Therefore, the master/principal of AI is still we humans.
7) Any new technology has its own positives and otherwise. Do we not know internet banking, digital banking, digital signatures? Have they not made our life easy, but fact is that it does brings with it the risk of cybercrime, some of them would have lost their wealth.
8) The answer depends upon the intent of such technology, regulations around it, moral obligations of developers, responsible usage etc. The views are divided amongst the different regulators whether it should be subject to lighter -touch and a strict regulation
So, is the changing era of AI, a boon or bane? Only time will answer
Reference was also drawn from following: