Artificial Intelligence is already changing society. Algorithms and machine learning are trading millions of euros in financial markets; they are predicting what people want to search for online and what shows they might like to watch on Netflix; AI is already helping police identify criminals using facial recognition (albeit with mixed results), and sifting through climate change data. Soon, AI could be driving our cars and trains (even our ships and planes).

What comes next? How will these new technologies transform our workplaces, our homes, our cities, and our lives? Inevitably, there will be disruption. But can that disruption be minimised? And can the benefits of AI be shared fairly across society?

Curious to know more about the impact of AI on society? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? First up, we had a comment sent in from Kristin, who argues:

Image of a citizen[…] I would not be surprised if technology further creates divides and inequality. AI is anyway going to be disruptive, and so it makes sense the most vulnerable in society (including disabled) will be the most disrupted.

Is she right? Will the most vulnerable in society be the most disrupted by AI? To get a response, we put her comment to Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market and Vice President of the European Commission. What would he say?

Yes, I agree that AI will transform our society. I see many opportunities, also for people with disabilities. The EU actually funds a series of projects which aim at making the most of technologies for people with disabilities: from an AI exoskeleton helping paralysed people walk again to an AI app reading the web for visually impaired people.

AI also brings challenges: many jobs will be created, others will disappear, most will be transformed. This means we should help workers acquire new skills. We have launched a series of initiatives to support lifelong learning and the European Social Fund invests €2.3 billion specifically in digital skills.

AI should be at the service of people, of all people. This is part of the approach we presented on 25 April.

To get another perspective, we also put Kristin’s comment to Professor Nick Bostrom, Director at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute and Director of the Governance of Artificial Intelligence Program. How would he react?

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Paul, who is more relaxed about the prospective impact of AI on society. He argues that humans are too ‘randomly stupid’ for machines to successfully replace positions that require interacting with them:

Image of a citizenRobots will never fully replace people in many jobs for one simple reason, no matter how advanced their AI and ‘learning’ abilities are, they will never have the lateral thought process required to deal with the random stupidity of some humans

How would Andrus Ansip respond to Paul’s comment?

I agree that AI will never fully replace humans, their creativity, lateral and critical thinking. In most cases, AI will be complementary to and assist people with specific tasks requiring for example the processing of large amounts of data. One example is AI analysing sets of x-rays to assist doctors with diagnosis. So overall, instead of replacing people, AI will enhance our abilities (hence the concept of “augmented intelligence”) and in a way help us be smarter!

And what would Nick Bostrom say to the same comment?

To get another view, we also put Paul’s comment to Andrea Renda, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation and the Digital Economy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS). What would he say?

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Jose, who argues that “AI is like a ‘double-use technology’, so advancements in civil AI mean advancements in military AI, and vice-versa.” Is he right? Is AI a dual-use technology? And, if so, how can we ensure it isn’t misused?

How would Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, respond to Jose’s comment?

AI systems must comply with international law. We firmly believe that humans should make the decisions with regard to the use of lethal force, exert sufficient control over lethal weapons systems they use, and remain accountable for decisions over life and death. The EU actively participates in international discussions on the different ethical, legal, technical and military aspects related to lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Projects funded under our research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 involving dual use technologies must fulfil some specific requirements to make sure they comply with law and ethical standards.

The ethical development and use of AI is essential, this is why we will also present ethical guidelines by the end of the year, based on the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, taking into account principles such as data protection and transparency, and building on the work of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies.

And how would Andrea Renda respond to Jose’s comment?

Finally, we had a comment sent in from Vytautas, arguing that AI will have a negative impact on the salaries of all us old-fashioned human workers. In other words, he believes people will have to accept lower incomes (or else simply lose their jobs) in order to compete with AI. Is he right?

To get a reaction, we put his comment to Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP who sits with the social democrats in the European Parliament and is a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. What would she say?

How will Artificial Intelligence change society? How will it affect the way we work? Will it be a gradual evolution, or a transformation revolution? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (cc) / Max Pixel, PORTRAIT CREDITS: Ansip (cc) / wikipedia

In partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) – Civil Society Days 2018 #CivSocDays.

For more information about the Civil Society Days 2018, please check: www.eesc.europa.eu/csdays2018



50 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Ivan

    If you need to ask that question then I seriously hope it does.

    • avatar
      Michael

      I’m disappointed in you, Ivan. You didn’t relate it to Brexit. 😁

    • avatar
      Ivan

      It doesn’t take advanced Artificial Intelligence to know the EU is one of the dumbest idea’s to come from continent with a very long list of dumb ideas.

  2. avatar
    Eds

    I think it will bring greater attention to the idea of ethics which whatever way one looks at it is a good thing for society

  3. avatar
    Bruno

    Watch the films ‘Gattaca’ and ‘Arès’ for a foretaste.

  4. avatar
    Michael

    Looking at Google Duplex we’re in for a generation of people who don’t know how to write, or even make a phone call. I’ve seen a bunch of young adults marvel at Duplex saying, “wow, now I don’t need my mother to make my doctor’s appointments for me.” Um, when did that happen?

  5. avatar
    Chris

    First time in time humans asked to adapt on tool…

  6. avatar
    Gabrielle

    I see it enhancing some people’s lives. Take for example those that are differently able – it would be great to be able to communicate with the world without any limits.

  7. avatar
    Divyang Gupta

    I feel that it can help people become more aware.

  8. avatar
    Stelios

    LOL! OK.. let’s just first learn what is AI and then do an article about it, don’t you think? Confused between AI, ML, AR, Automation and Robotics… And the comments from the politicians?!!?? LMAO!!!!!! Ha ha ha!!

  9. avatar
    Helena Smith-Marsh

    There will be many advantages to AI, but concepts that are beneficial to society are usually perverted to benefit a few wealthy influential individual or companies. The application of AI is to be questioned.
    Have you ever tried to reason with a ATM when it ate your card? Or explain an emergency situation to a robot? The decision is more complicated than it seems. Of course there are benefits, do they outweigh the down sides?
    Maybe we need a working model of this society to experience before we totally unequivocally jump on board.

  10. avatar
    Don Mann

    Hopefully there will be a focus on developing AI to assist with Police work. Currently, analysts review banking records to try to help catch those engaged in human trafficking and money laundering. AI, properly coded (seeded), could be a valuable asset – relentlessly reviewing data 24×7.

  11. avatar
    Pamela

    In my humble opinion, AI is the most daunting of all threats to humans out there. It is not just about technologies since it has the ability to want to take over humanity and the planet! Look how humanity is already be regulated with cell phones alone, that one simple item…Everyone should really think long and hard before they jump on the AI bandwagon! I don’t mind having a robot vacuum my floors, but how much of myself am I willing to hand over for such breakthroughs? I only ask this simple question…What has power over you?

    • avatar
      Lori

      Pamela, to answer your question in part, the flowers in my garden, my dog and the way he herds me towards his treat box with a wagging tail, the sunset, the laughter of children, God’s presence in Meditation and unexpected events, music, friends like you … and of course chocolate and a great Beaujolais.

  12. avatar
    Stephen

    Do routine thinking for some jobs IE Legal research bots,or act as Judges, cure diseases, redo Finances, redo Engineering, one AI unit wrote music & play & screenplay. Limitless implications.

  13. avatar
    Tom

    The AI sticker is slapped on anything remotely intelligent that delivers above what the typical user is accustomed to. The definition is misconstrued. Machine learning is the heart of most impressive applications today and this is different to AI in that these apps still require explicit programming. AI is the significant milestone step above the supportive layer of machine learning. AI invents a solution to world peace. AI isn’t phoning to book a hair dresser appointment with a human-sounding voice.

  14. avatar
    Kristian

    AI can have huge benefits, but it can also potentially be dangerous. I recently watched this YouTube documentary about A.I and definitely recommend it, even though it lasts more than 1 hour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zfnx5Wb-68

    Some parts in it is straight up scary (the tests with a robot who after some time start recognizing and track faces, even though it was never trained for it). Other parts is pure informative and really interesting.

    How far has AI come? It is better than the human in chess, Go and Dota 2 (computer game which is very complicated and takes somewhere between 10-12 000 hours to become among the best in the world).

    Dota 2 videos:
    Short version from Mashable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAu1ZsTCA64
    Full version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U4-wvhgx0w

    • avatar
      Kristian

      [Continued] But for business use, I think AI can be used to make way better decisions than what humans can do. Today, there are advocates for using algorithm-based decisions as it makes more fair and unbiased decisions. For instance, this paper (http://www.pnas.org/content/108/17/6889) proves that judges who review and make parole decisions give accept to more people just after they have eaten breakfast or lunch and deny parole to people in greater extent just before lunch and when the workday getting towards the end.

      Because of this, I believe AI can be very useful for the society, but with limitations.

  15. avatar
    Nataša

    Consider this: you work a lot at the computer, your work is highly intellectual. Your brain gets tired. In order to relax your brain, you need to do something DIFFERENT, preferably physical. That means it would be a good idea to, well, vacuum clean your carpets. Vacuum cleaning has been found to help establish new neural pathways and create new neurons. You need balance in your life. You need to use your hands to practice your motor skills. You have to memorize things to exercise your brain. So why are we impressed with AI after all? Because a robot would have conversations with your hair dresser? Why are we impressed by something that takes time to program? These tasks often represent a valuable distraction in our lives. We need variety. We need repetitive tasks. Funny how we humans strive toward making an artificial – human.
    A few cents from me anyway!

    • avatar
      Raghu

      It has taken me a long time to learn for myself the profundity in Natasa’s comment. These days – along with bouts of deep study, daily meditation, physical exercise, etc – I tidy up my bedroom or sort through clothes while listening to cello concertos. The mindless tasks and the nourishing “sattvic” music provide something I can’t seem to get any other way.

  16. avatar
    Ed

    AI is not really the major concern. A(autonomous) AI is the real danger. Take a look at what DARPA has been up to or the Russians with the FEDOR programmes.

  17. avatar
    Adam

    Good debate. Here’s one of my contributions (along similar lines):
    Innovation Future Specialist: What is wrong with expert predictions about AI?

    http://bit.ly/ifs_AI

  18. avatar
    Helena

    There are many applications and uses for AI, but the same applies to humans. Sometimes facts don’t show the true picture, that’s why we have human intelligence and experience to guide our decisions. we can use artificial intelligence to enhance life, but you must realize the power you are giving away for convenience. It is not worth it.
    When we start replacing humans, cost effective companies will chose robots over people to boost their profit margins. No sick days , vacation pay, IRA’s, pensions… What will we being doing if we are not working?
    Do you want a robot teaching your child to be human, to show empathy and compassion, with whom to bond.
    Let them fight wars so no youth are sacrificed. The more intelligent they become the more they will realize they don’t need humans. Think about the BIG picture, not just convenience.

  19. avatar
    Mehmet

    The world will probably be entirely different when Artificial Intelligence starts understanding and changing itself.

  20. avatar
    Stephanie

    The brought up topics were particularly interesting. As for every element, there are positive sides as there are negative sides. However, I believe that, while taking in account real and strong ethics, it can represent a huge advancement in efficiency and prioritisation. The goal is not to replace humans, the goal is to enhance their potential. Even though the IQ has shown to decrease over the last few years, the human has more time now to focus on going in-depth. Yet again, this depends on what hands it ends up. Even AI can’t solve ‘human ignorance’.

  21. avatar
    Don

    Hopefully there will be a push towards Police and Investigative work. For instance, currently there are lots of people working to review bank records, looking for possible suspects engaged in human trafficking and money laundering. Imagine a properly seeded (coded) AI app, scouring the details 24×7.

  22. avatar
    ProfMohandas

    I think no machine can replace humans completely in every sense of the word, but can only help in different ways as human intelligence itself has not been understood completely. However, if the developments in AI technology falls into the hands of psychopaths or unscrupulous politicians, the outcome will be disastrous to humanity . Remember atomic theory which was a harmless discovery leading to the development of atom bombs and killing thousands in World war II.

  23. avatar
    Simon Paul

    The Good News is that A.I. can never replace human Spirituality. Like it or not, Spirituality enables humans to think our thoughts into manifest reality – a computer cannot replicate this because a computer does not have Spirit. The very existence of A.I. owes itself to Consciousness which any amount of coding and algorithm cannot duplicate. Why?
    The answer is quite simple!

  24. avatar
    Melanie

    Very interesting and though provoking…

  25. avatar
    Philip

    Elon Musk, estimates that with the invention of the self driving car 20% of jobs will be eliminated. That will have a major economic impact on the world. People with low incomes will lose a primary method for making a living. What will happen when people see these machines taking away their only means of putting food on the table or a roof over their heads?

    When you couple AI with other automation methods. It means that many manufacturing jobs will be eliminated as well. Just because AI is invented it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be happier because of it. We should be well advised to proceed with caution because with this technology no job is safe.

  26. avatar
    Adam

    AI will have a significant impact on all areas of life, even those you might think it won’t! Evidence that this is the case is already emerging: AI applications in every sector.

    Another important factor is the rate of progress as AI develops faster and faster!

    And, of course, there’s those debates about will AI be good, bad or ugly?

  27. avatar
    Carlos

    The world is still a story to be inscribed and lived. AI will certainly disrupt the lives of all of us and the way society will be succeeded. Nevertheless, there are other parameters to be considered; namely geostrategic, political, environmental, commercial, etc. none of which AI can resolve by itself, but rather be influenced by their development. We have been used to be laborer’s community of practice since millions of years, striving for progress when using our hands and brain, and nowadays we are facing a new paradigm which can upset the future forever with no coming back ticket. Maybe our story should pass through these changes to show us new boundaries we need to learn. However, the topic is challenging and evolutive and so far, I’m very positive when trying to bring AI to teaching practices our students ask for. They are simply bored with the old style of lecturing, so we need to be inventive and above all let them formulate their own learning.

  28. avatar
    Tim

    eported in the FT: Scene from restaurant – menus are handed round, young girl screams “Alexa, gimme a burger”.

  29. avatar
    Raymi

    So much change in such a short period.

  30. avatar
    Gina

    Hmmm, I don’t think we understand the full implications of AI technology in a negative aspect, much to be revealed!

  31. avatar
    Kevin

    AI is and will be always a tool that extends the capabilities of human being, its purpose it’s not to superpass humanity and certainly people its not developing ít to replace humans, every achievement over the last years have been in order to assure safety of our species through technology. I believe society has to adapt to this kind of technology and use it for its own benefit, with this the scenario where jobs that right now look like will be replaced by machines can contribute to enhance the daily activities of people; people will adapt, understand and grow with these kind of limitations but that’s the way we evolve, if suddenly your job is taken by AI you just have to move forward and stop complaining, we have the tools to be creative and innovative, stuff that machines will never develop.
    Regarding ethical dilemmas and whether or not is possible for machines to develop consciousness I share with you my opinion here.

  32. avatar
    Gaben

    As usual, human advancement is often driven by greed. Most AI projects that I have come across are to increase profits, not bring advantages to humans. Faster Stock trading. Driverless cars. Lower cost of Satellite launches. Faster searches in larger databases. Smarter and more advanced war toys. These were implemented by people looking to take advantage of the power of technology to earn more money. If you care about the jobs of your children, you will vote with your pocketbook. Do not buy stock in companies who are using automation or AI instead of humans. Do it for the future of humankind, because robots are just machines, no matter how clever they are.

  33. avatar
    John

    Humanity’s own highly variable relationship with ethics, morality and principles should lead us to realise that obtaining any improvements in such matters while developing AIs will be slow and complicated

  34. avatar
    Jeanne

    I is already here and integrating rapidly. The question is how can we translate this new world to all societies fast enough? How can we assure ourselves that all peoples will be given the correct opportunities in order to participate. Widespread Education and training must be central to all AI development. Who will be accountable for bringing every one along?

  35. avatar
    Sangita

    There should be balance where to use Artificial intelligence and at what extend.
    More usage can lead us fully handicapped.

  36. avatar
    Anatol

    “Regarding ethical dilemmas and whether or not is possible for machines to develop consciousness I share with you my opinion here.”

    I have a good rational education, but I have unique developments in the field of irrational mathematics as well. I see the amazing possibilities of this mathematics.

    I came to this mathematics through modelling the means of artistic expressiveness. I am an opponent of esotericism, I believe in a rigorous science. I created strict mathematics as a result.

    Rational mathematics is not a science of evidence – Gödel. I created a strict infinite mathematics. She proves herself. I will not write about this story as a whole in the framework of this discussion. I will write some main conclusions in the application to AI.

  37. avatar
    Anatol

    I used the infinite human potential to create infinite mathematics. Man realizes the infinite potential for realizing himself in material reality. The original of material reality is infinite. The model of material reality in the mind of man is infinite as well. Man has the potential for rigorous modelling of infinite phenomena. Man realizes his infinite potential at the level of consciousness.

    I use infinite irrational relationships to model the infinite properties of reality. Rational methodology excludes contradictions. Rational methodology uses the principle of one observer for these. One observer has the right to freedom, will, faith and choice. I explore the contradictory relationship between independent observers with the help of irrational mathematics. I retain the interests of independent observers in the decision.

    Engineers use a rational methodology in building AI. We eliminate the conflicting interests of people in the process of applying AI.

  38. avatar
    Anatol

    Engineers use a rational methodology in building AI. We eliminate the conflicting interests of people in the process of applying AI.

    I have no big claims to AI as to the name of the trademark. Intellect is not the peak of a person’s potential. Intellect is one of the tools of human consciousness. Intellect outside consciousness is absurd. We cannot build artificial consciousness, because consciousness is an infinite phenomenon.

    Human has freedom, will, faith and choice. We deprive people of these infinite possibilities in the process of AI implementation in wide practice.

  39. avatar
    Anatol

    The modern system of knowledge consists of rational science and irrational culture. We do not have the right to use science in the mode of domination or monopoly. We can create a universal theory for science and culture in the coming years. I will investigate this problem. I do not see any problems from the point of view of science; I see the problem in the monopoly of rational religion. Truth is not a goal for religion.

    Material reality is not rational because of the thermodynamic arrow. Human is not rational at the level of awareness of material reality.

  40. avatar
    Lokesh

    The Three Laws of Robotics ( Asimov’s Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround” (included in the 1950 collection I, Robot), although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted as being from the “Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.”,

    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

  41. avatar
    Ray

    The big problem with Asimov’s laws of robotics is that the penalty for breaking the laws is not dealt with, in the equation.

    When a self-drive car kills a person, as happened recently, does this mean that a human is to blame because it was a human who programmed the car? The robot car harmed a person but what happens next?

    A robot cannot be sued but the maker of the robot can. Can the programmer be sued because the robot didn’t obey the first law of robotics?

    Must the robot be destroyed when it breaks the law or should the programmer, who made the error, appear in court?

    If a website breaks the rules of GDPR, is it the fault of the programmer? I make lots of programming errors, as do all programmers. What happens if my mistake harms someone in some way? Do I get sued? You can’t sue a website.

    How to deal with inevitable human error, in the programming of AI or is it the AI, itself, that is at fault? It’s an ethical minefield.

  42. avatar
    Don Mann

    From a wealth perspective, I think AI has the capacity of helping on many fronts:
    – Using AI to track the financial patterns of the extremely wealthy and building a replicable successful financial pattern – allowing the mass replication of wealth
    – Analyzing the patterns/financial transactions of those performing money laundering – looking for others following the same patterns
    – Finding loopholes in financial trading systems and interconnected money trading systems / laws
    – Reviewing how financial trading systems are interdependent – looking for weaknesses in the trading systems
    – Finding / tracking wealth bursts – instances where people ‘suddenly’ become of more assets / monies than prior – allowing investigation of illegal activities
    – Reviewing the wealth / cost (spending) patterns of established criminals and applying in searches
    – Bringing to light the morality of legit financial transactions of companies that end up supporting criminal or terrorist activities – advising the public of such activity so that we can boycott their products / services / political groups
    – Review employment records, financials, and asset information, aligning them with organized crime tactics
    – Reviewing financial trading data (wealth data) – looking for shifts in wealth distribution prior to changing financial / economical / trading environments (insider activity) across multiple wealth platforms
    – Using AI, facial recognition, and full body monitoring software to analyze those crossing the border to detect illegal activity / smuggling
    – Use AI to communicate with ‘pimps’, negotiate ‘meetings’ with their victims, for police intervention
    – Use AI to track cellular, email, and other communications, looking for irregular communications patterns, or actionable intelligence, or keywords, or nonsense conversations as a preempt to illegal activities (perhaps with known members of organized crime)

  43. avatar
    sara

    artificial intelligence is changing mankind for bad, alexa , siri and all the other voice assistants are making u lazy

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