The AI is (so not) coming for your job! – Part 1

AI is ready to take over the world!

First, It decimated the legacy of Garry Kasparov, arguably the greatest chess players of all time.

Prior to this, people thought, “Oh, gimme a break or two! Chess is creative. Based on intuition. There’s no way machines can catch up to this! Machine Dumb. Human Good!”

Needless to say, from the year 2000 onwards, It has been whipping human ass in chess.

And then people said, “Okay, okay. I’ll give you that. Chess is a game of all-visible information and squares and pieces and what not. Perhaps we were wrong about that. Maybe Ches sis purely mathematical and is best left to computers. But the game of Go is different! There are no rote strategies, no way to “prepare” for a game. In fact, humans play it with 99% strategy and 1% calculation. It’s ALL intuition! There’s absolutely no way It can beat us at Go!”

Ahem. Fast forward to 2016.

This was a watershed moment in Its superority vs humans. Between 2016 and 2020 (because it’s 2020 as of writing), the number of “impossible” feats accomplished by AI has exploded. Whether it’s making music, walking outdoors, dreaming, writing or predicting the future, It has dominated everything and shown humans their true petty place.

You get the idea, right?

And now, this all-powerful, all-knowing, superhuman-brain-galaxy-black-hole-andromeda AI is coming for your job, naturally.

Pretty soon, there will be no composers, no writer, no programmers, foremen, teachers, judges, farmers, politicians, streamers or anything. Everything will be done by It. Perfectly.

At best, humans will find a Matrix-style use as energy sources and sent off packing in a big, long, eternal sleep.

This skpetical dog is skeptical. It is not impressed.

And guess what, it’ s right!

Let’s make a sharp u-turn and start this discussion from the start. Sensibly. Let’s figure out what’s going on.

First of all, the DNA of AI.

“Artificial Intelligence” is a term. Just like other terms. Say, for example, “Steric Hindrance”, which was coined by a Chemistry resaearcher. But since you don’t know what it means, you are not too bothered about it. That will change if newspapers and media start yelling about the looming Steric Hindrance in everyone’s artries (which makes zero sense, by the way). Suddenly, Steric Hindrance will take on a larger-than-life meaning.

Same with Artifical Intelligence. A guy was doing theoretical computer science and needed a term for the type of computation he was developing. So he invented a phrase: Artifical Intelligence. Maybe he thought it had a nice ring to it, or maybe he was smoking pot. Whatever the reason, the term came into existence.

The interesting thing to note is that AI theory is nothing new. It’s all stuff 40-50 years old, that is just seeing manifestation in today’s world. No new groundbreaking research has been done, just like in every other human field of endeavor. What makes a big splash today is just tiny, incremental “innovations” that get hyped by the media. Much the same way that today’s cars are not really that different from the original Model T by Ford.

So, what gives?

What we see today is just a small part of AI called Machine Learning. And there’s another buzzword for you to lose sleep over!

In simple terms, Machine Learning means the computer is able to derive some type of learning on its own, given enough data and computing power. These two things, data and computing power, were not huge enough until this decade, which is why no Grammarly could be created back in 2002. If I say, “teach me a better way to write”, the AI suddenly is clueless. Where’s the data to feed it? Well, it doesn’t exist because I’m looking for something that doesn’t exist (a better style of writing for me)!

And even once you have enough data and computing power, someone has to painstakingly clean the data and make it straightforward enough for the “intelligent” machine to digest.

In other words, we’re still looking at systems that are far from intelligent in even the remotest sense of the world. If so, let’s not even talking about algorithms being aware or even conscious. 🙄

This post, in its entirely, turned out to be much larger than I expected, so I’m turning this into a series of sorts. The next one will elaborate on the dumbness of these amazing modern algorithms. Read it here.