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On August 4, 1997, Skynet came online to control the weapons arsenal of the United States with a mandate of “safeguarding the world.” Skynet started to learn at a geometric rate and became self-aware at 2:14am on August 29, 1997.  Humans saw the artificial intelligence (AI) as a threat and attempted to shut it down.  Skynet viewed this as an attack and created a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, killing over three billion people.

Luckily, this is the storyline from the Terminator movies and not real life.  But could it be that we’re reaching a point where artificial intelligence is set to take control of humanity and make decisions devoid of emotions like sympathy and empathy? 

Depending on who you ask, the answer is yes…or no.  High performance computing has already proven a machine’s ability to perform advanced calculations far faster and more accurately than the human mind.  The question is:  Who should be in control of decision making?

Artificial intelligence vs. deep learning vs. machine learning

Artificial intelligence is nothing new.  The term was coined in 1955 by John McCarthy and debated and discussed at the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence in 1955 by the founding fathers of artificial intelligence.

Since then, we’ve seen AI in hundreds of movies and fictional stories from Star Wars and The Avengers to Bicentennial Man and Ex Machina.  Unfortunately, there’s no agreed-upon definition of artificial intelligence. 

We do know that deep learning and machine learning are subsets of artificial intelligence. Machine learning is based on algorithms and statistical models where a prediction is made based on inputs.  Almost all AI is built upon machine learning. 

Deep learning is simply about scale since advancements in compute have made it possible to do more processing than traditional machine learning. The key differentiator between machine learning and deep learning, according to one expert, is in the number of layers of nodes that the input data passes through.

Benefits of AI to humanity

Artificial intelligence is poised to benefit humanity in many ways: more accurate clinical imaging and diagnoses, smarter manufacturing, interactive consumer experiences, reduced traffic accidents and resulting death, bionic limbs, increased life expectancy, and many more. 

For example, today we partner with companies like NVIDIA to help our healthcare customers to reduce misdiagnoses in clinical imaging using machine learning.  While these machines are as accurate as humans at identifying abnormalities in a medical image, we will eventually reach a point where machines will be almost perfect at medical diagnoses.

Artificial intelligence will also help us to understand traffic patterns and manage intersections, reducing the number of accidents—and reducing the amount of time you wait in traffic.

While these are amazing benefits, there is a dark side to AI looming ahead. 

Combatting the dark side of AI

Today, conflicts around the world are fought by people with an ever-increasing access to more lethal weapons. But they are still fought by people. While the loss of human life is unavoidable in war, that loss of life and empathy are typically what brings a war to its end. 

If we replace “fighters” with autonomous weapons, more civilians will be at risk than ever before.  Machines making decisions on how to attack, who to attack and where to attack—combined with the ability to manipulate networks, communications and security—provide the recipe for a third World War fought between countries and an artificial intelligence.

In fact, according to state-funded media organization RT, Vladimir Putin—one of the United States’ key adversaries—publicly stated that:

Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” 

Logicalis:  Using data for good

At Logicalis, we believe that we can be a beacon of light in this shift to AI. We believe in using data ethically and together, with our customers, we can use machine learning and deep learning to help solve big problems in healthcare, manufacturing, government and education.

AI is here, so join our movement. Contact us to get started on solving your biggest issues. Help use #dataforgood.

Mike Trojecki is the vice president of IoT and analytics at Logicalis US, responsible for developing the company’s strategy, partnerships, and execution plan around digital technologies.