The June, 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review includes a spotlight on Man and Machine: Knowledge Work in the Age of the Algorithm. Another example that, as a recent article observed, “Artificial intelligence is suddenly everywhere…”
People have long worried about the impact of technology on society, whether discussing railroads, electricity, and cars in the Industrial Age, or the Internet, mobile devices and smart connected products now permeating just about all aspect of our lives. But the concerns surrounding AI may well be in a class by themselves. Like no other technology, AI forces us to explore the very boundaries between machines and humans.
Some experts fear that at some future time, sentient, superintelligent AI machines might pose an “existential risk” that “could spell the end of the human race.” Others are dismissive of such dire concerns while agreeing that we must work hard to ensure that our complex AI systems do what we want them to do.
Whether right or wrong, these long term worries are still decades into the future. Much more immediate is the impact of our smart machines on jobs and the economy. Will AI turn out like other major innovations, - e.g., steam power, electricity, cars, - highly disruptive in the near term, but ultimately beneficial to society? Or, will our smart machines take over not just low-skilled tasks but high-skilled ones too? What will life be like in such an AI future, when highly intelligent machines, - many far surpassing human cognitive capabilities, - are all around us?