AI is Here: Should We be Amazed, Alert, or Flat-Out Afraid?

January 26, 2022
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived, and will be a major factor in our lives, very soon. We’ve already experienced some form of it; a shopping assistant on your favorite website, a banking program that recognizes suspicious activity, or even an article that pops up when you run an Internet search for “Top Kitchen Remodelers in Dubuque, Iowa,” It’s taken a foothold in our lives, and we’ve barely noticed.

Should this alarm you? Probably not, or at least not yet. Steven Hawking and Elon Musk, two of the smartest people who lived on the planet this century, have expressed concerns about AI. Last year, Musk stated that AI could surpass human intelligence within five years. However, he also stated that punctuality wasn’t his strong suit, so there’s that to consider. Regardless, let’s put it at “extremely unlikely” that you’re going to answer your door any time soon to find a T-1000 searching for you.

Of course, this could be a big “I-told-you-so” if we’re swinging axes together in five years, mining lithium under the watchful camera eyes of our new AI overlords.

What Uses Does AI Have?

Despite the fiction-driven apprehension, AI is a tremendously useful tool. At its most basic level, it manages data far more efficiently than humans do. It can sift through vast quantities of information and recognize patterns. Pattern recognition and analysis help people and companies make faster, more educated decisions. For example, the more you shop on Amazon, the more accurately it can suggest other shopping options to you (and, yes, get you to spend more.)

However, the applications go far above and beyond that. AI can use your health data, combine it with information from your family history, and help predict future health problems and recommend screenings. It can analyze crowdsourced traffic data to change your route mid-trip and divert around congestion and traffic accidents.

So is AI Just an Extremely Advanced Calculator?

Not at all, keep in mind that data isn’t just limited to numbers. For example, OpenAI’s GPT-3 text generator is capable of writing mostly-coherent articles based on massive quantities of verbal input and sentence structure. The blog post “Feeling unproductive? Maybe you should stop overthinking” was entirely AI-generated after being fed a few parameters.

“The advances AI offers are phenomenal,” says MacguyverTech CEO Steve McKeon (Mac). “It not only sorts through data, but also helps create solutions to problems we might not even be aware of yet. What I don’t think has been talked about enough is how this tech is going to provide next-level threat protection in cybersecurity.”

How Does AI Help with Cybersecurity?

“Very soon, AI isn’t going to be an option for security, it’s going to be necessary,” says McKeon. “The reason for this is that hackers are already training AI bots to attack a target, adapt, and attack again. They’re giving a tremendous amount of data to bots and utilizing machine learning to adapt their attacks on a system, detect vulnerabilities, and then modify their attacks.”

Similarly, cybersecurity is adapting on defense. “The counter to this,” McKeon continued, “is that data-fed algorithms are helping cybersecurity systems anticipate new attacks and prepare for them before the hackers even figure out where to attack next. It’s like a chess game played in microseconds.”

Summary

AI isn’t inherently evil. At its core, it’s simply a reflection of the data given to it, which can be unfortunately tainted by human bias.

Used properly as a tool, it will give rise to wonderful technical advances over the next several years and decades. Used improperly…well, let’s just say that there’s already a company named Cyberdyne in Japan, and they’re not manufacturing umbrellas. In the end, it’s not AI that we need to be concerned about – it’s ourselves.

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