Artificial Intelligence Could Make Us Lazy
Vlad Tverdohleb Jul 31, 2015
There are clear benefits of advances in technology. Changing technology increases intelligence and stimulates the brain. However, that can only be true as long as the new technology challenges us. In tomorrow's world run by artificial intelligence (AI) machines, we might live much simpler lifestyles and there are risks that this could make us lazy and less intelligent. Or, at least this is the conclusion of an article published recently in Psychology Today, by Ph.D. Nigel Barber, an evolutionary psychologist author of "The Science of Romance" and "Why Parents Matter".
After the technologic singularity, when the first self-conscious machine would be created and mankind will enter the Age of Machines, we might be at danger to lose our edge as a species. This process might have already begun back in the era of the Industrial Revolution when the first machines began to replace our manual work.
People became less physically active after machines took away most of our manual work, and a sedentary lifestyle made as gaining weight. Today we have to deal with a worldwide epidemic of metabolic disorders and obesity. Medical conditions such as kidney disease, secondary diabetes, and heart disease have become rampant in our modern society.
Our brains were forced to work harder, as our bodies rested. Modern jobs are time urgent, more complex and require a higher level of education. Today's employees have to adapt, process quickly new information and keep learning. It is also more difficult to navigate a commuting traffic in a congested modern city than it used to be in a small rural village.
Our brains work harder even during our leisure time, due to the proliferation of audiovisual media and greater availability of books. We spend our free time checking the news, studying and so forth. In the Internet age, the sophistication in digital technologies and the volume of information grows exponentially. We interact electronically with a growing number of people, using social media like Twitter and Facebook.
We had to become more intelligent in order to adapt to the modern lifestyle and processing all this extra information with our brains. Studies have found that in developed countries human intelligence steadily increases from generation to generation. This phenomenon was named in social sciences the Flynn Effect. There are also other reasons, of course, including better obstetric practices that reduce brain damage, improved nutrition, sanitation and public health.
However, this might change soon if we keep using our smart gadgets of today and, in the near future, most of the thinking will be done by intelligent machines. People of the future are at risk of becoming lazy and less intelligent. If artificial intelligence will not enslave us, it might take over at least much of our human jobs. For instance, artificial intelligence is already used to control the complex air traffic around large modern airports. Planes are being controlled much of the flight by automatic pilots. AI computer programs of today are already capable of writing novels and poetry, as well as testing scientific hypotheses.
Without us to notice, artificial intelligence is already everywhere around us. It has been embedded in many features of our modern life because intelligent machines can already outperform humans. Even in some potential where we would think we still have a human advantage, such as recalling trivia in a game called Jeopardy or playing chess, artificial intelligence computers defeated Ken Jennings and Gary Kasparov at their respective games.
Thanks to Moore's Law, machine intelligence can increase much faster than human intelligence. As machines get smarter, they make our life easier and will do more of our thinking for us. They get more user-friendly since future technologies may be voice activated and keyboards might get out of use.
We will be able to have a conversation with an AI machine as we would talk to a friend or personal assistant. The digital assistant of the future will develop to the point that it will serve functions similar as a real living butler. At the point when we the hard work of organizing and planning will be done by a better brain, our human brains will regress, starved of mental effort.
Image by Reuters/Christian Hartmann