By Zaid Kamhawi, CEO, Qarar

Elon Musk says we might see AI smarter than any human next year. However, not everyone agrees that AI can match human creativity, and it is not about how precise or high-quality Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be.  It’s simpler than that: humans like humans.  Our culture is shared — not because it’s good quality — but because human connection and relatedness are intrinsic aspects of what we are.  Should we fear AI?  Or should we start adapting to it?

The arrival of AI marks a critical chapter in human history, signaling amazing advancements in technology but, at the same time, posing great challenges.  As AI becomes so entrenched into the fabric of our daily lives its impact is felt far beyond just its novelty.  It is promising a future where AI integration into our daily tasks is seamless and universal, touching the very essence of human existence, productivity, and societal norms.

The Catalyst of Change

Make no mistake, AI is a big deal, and it is undoubtedly changing the way we live and work.  It has the power to reveal to us new, better, and different perspectives and solutions, with big data serving as the cornerstone of AI’s problem-solving prowess.

On one hand, it can delve into the seemingly mundane, such as enhancing the appeal of apple pies in the U.S by revealing unexpected consumer behaviour and preferences.  Another example is in Japan, where the intricate analysis of a driver’s posture offers groundbreaking anti-theft measures and accident prevention, demonstrating how AI’s detailed data interpretation can enhance safety and security.  Then we have the potential to address global challenges we could not do before — such as solving world hunger and climate change. 

Yet before we get too excited about the wonderful transformations and enhancements that AI can bring to our lives, there is a flip side.  Take the example of the application of AI in criminology.  Through predictive policing by predicting criminal behaviour before it occurs poses a controversial debate around the sacredness of human free will and agency.  Criminal law is largely based on ‘innocent until proven guilty’ — yet applying AI in predictive criminology would seem to challenge that premise.

So, the balance between leveraging AI for social good and protecting individual freedoms remains a delicate tightrope, raising ethical and social concerns to ensure that these technologies enhance human welfare without compromising their rights and freedoms.

The potential of AI to augment human intelligence is immense, offering new opportunities for innovation across industries. From fashion design to space exploration, AI can help create new possibilities that were previously unimaginable.  However, AI’s ascent brings a dichotomy between the potential to elevate human intellect and fears of widespread job displacement.  The impact of AI on professional identity is still being explored.  When we cast out minds back to the 1990’s everyone thought computers would lead to huge job losses — but that didn’t really happen!

AI Working with Us, Not Against Us

One thing is for sure is that as AI becomes more entrenched in our lives, the human role will need to transition to one of overseeing AI systems, identifying biases, and ensuring ethical use. Managers and leaders must focus on developing employees’ skills and competencies to work alongside AI, ensuring that human intelligence and emotional understanding guide AI’s decisions and application.  This transition underscores the evolving relationship between AI and professional identity, challenging individuals to reconceptualize their roles in an AI-integrated world.  The narrative is increasingly about collaboration rather than replacement.  That would mean we gradually shift away from the view of AI as a cost-saving benefit and move towards embracing its capacity for generating new revenue streams and capabilities.

Navigating the AI Landscape: Innovation and Caution

Nonetheless, as AI continues to redefine the boundaries of human potential, it will continue to make people nervous regarding its ethical and moral implications.  The fear of a super-intelligent AI that one day does not care about what’s important to us, looms large in public debates.  Yet, the reality is often more subtle, with AI geared to extend the human experience by compensating for the obvious limitation of our bodies and minds.  The concept of design-thinking in AI offers a framework for creating solutions that are not only technologically advanced but also human-centric, addressing real-world needs and challenges in innovative ways.  From a more utopian outlook, think about robots helping humans settle on Mars — that’s the kind of teamwork we’re aiming for.  It is not about being in competition but more about co-operation. 

However, with AI moving fast, as humans we are struggling to keep up with rules to manage it. Questions about AI’s role in society, education, healthcare, and space exploration are becoming increasingly relevant.  Today we build cognitive systems by “teaching them” the endeavour.  Then to construct AI systems embedded with ethical reasoning and a moral compass, such as mercy and justice, with the aim of fostering AI that can be trusted and relied upon — much like a human counterpart or colleague.  However, this requires much urgent regulation that can empower these AI development frameworks appropriately.

The Regulatory Conundrum: Keeping AI in Check

The reality we are facing now is that the pace of AI advancements, particularly in the realm of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), has surpassed regulatory frameworks, raising critical questions about the possibility of human oversight and control.  The fear of AI reaching a level of autonomy where it could potentially dictate the terms of its existence and interaction with humanity necessitates an urgent, robust, and proactive regulatory approach.

For example, the concept of Transhumanism, with its vision of a future where humans and machines merge, presents a radical reimagining of human evolution.  This ideology, straddling the realms of genetic engineering, AI, and cybernetics, suggests a future devoid of the human condition as we know it, sparking existential and ethical debates.  The transhumanist vision, while pushing the boundaries of innovation, also raises alarming questions about identity, humanity, and the societal ramifications of such a profound transformation.  Thus, the dialogue around AI safety, ethical guidelines, and the verification of AI code underscores the urgent need for a collaborative, international effort to ensure AI serves humanity’s best interests.

Conclusion: Charting a Course Through the AI Odyssey

As we stand at the cusp of a new era shaped by AI, we can clearly see the journey ahead is full of both opportunities and risks.  It is up to us — as humans — to balance innovation with our human values and human freedoms.  One thing is for sure, AI is here to stay, and it is going to change everything, offering solutions to age-old challenges while also taking us towards new frontiers of knowledge and existence.  Yet, it must be reiterated once again that this journey demands a careful, considered approach, balancing the pursuit of innovation with the preservation of our core human values and freedoms.

The story of AI and its role in our future is still being written. It is a story that we can all have a say in, shaped by our collective aspirations, ethics, and the choices we make.  As we navigate this complex landscape, the ultimate goal remains clear: to ensure that AI serves as a beacon of progress and human ingenuity, enhancing our lives while upholding the dignity and worth of every individual.

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