By George P. Nassos
At a recent meeting of a large number of artificial intelligence experts, it was concluded that AI could very well be the cause of human extinction in the near future. While several articles have been written about this prediction, it hasn’t been really clarified as to how AI will cause this extinction.
One scenario talks about a company using AI for some very simple assignments like making travel plans, developing marketing language, or suggesting equipment purchases. After being very satisfied with the results, AI is then allowed to answer and respond to emails. Since it is making equipment purchases, AI is also allowed to make payments from the company’s bank account. The next step may have the AI bot designing new products for the company that will be more favorable than the nearest competitor.
The success of the company with more AI involvement may allow management to turn over more power with less oversight. If this is the case, the role of management can be diminished greatly. If most other companies follow the same path, we will have competition between AIs. The question that now needs answering is how were the competitive AIs designed, or better yet, how were they “steered”? Will these companies compete with profit being the primary objective or will ESG be the primary goal?
We should probably also consider the implementation of AI in other walks of life. Can AI have a role in education starting with developing the curricula, planning the syllabi for the instructors, and eventually becoming the instructors? AI could also grow rapidly in the service sector of the economy such as the airline industry. AI may someday handle the flight schedules, handle the reservations, and maybe eventually fly the airplanes. Could the government leaders rely on AI to make decisions for the nation’s people? Will the AI bot be “designed” or “steered” for the good of the people or for the good of the government leaders?
These questions about the future impact of AI on people, in general, and on the planet, as a whole, is something that needs consideration. But what should also be considered with a greater probability of happening is the continued, albeit slow, deterioration of the earth created for us by God. There are four major environmental issues that really need our attention.
We have known since 1988 that the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is warming the planet. While that concentration had been around 280 parts per million (ppm) pre-industrial days, we were told that we’ll be in trouble if it goes over 350 ppm. We are now at 422 ppm and will continue to increase unless we take some real action. The bad news is even if we were not to add any CO2 in the future, the concentration will not decrease unless we develop some cost effective carbon capture technology. This global warming impact has caused droughts, fires, water level increases, hurricanes, and other issues.
The over-consumption of our natural resources (wood, vegetation, animals, fish, etc.) is forcing us to rely on the existing inventory of these resources. We are currently consuming the equivalent of 1.7 earths, and this number continues to increase. How much inventory do we have left?
The decrease in quality and quantity of water is another major problem. Of all the water on this planet, only 0.01% is available freshwater. There is more freshwater on the earth but it is in glaciers, icecaps and groundwater. It is predicted that by 2030, the demand for water will exceed the supply by 40%.
What is contributing to these three major environmental issues is the continued growth of the world population. While humans have been on this earth for thousands of years, we are now at eight billion people but six billion have been added in just the past 85 or so years. And we are growing at about 10 million people every six to seven weeks.
How many people can this earth handle? And will the destruction of the environment put a cap on the earth’s population? Will the destruction of the environment begin to reduce the earth’s population? If so, we will need AI more than ever to bolster the economy..