Although I’m not quite sure of the number of netizens belonging to the capital city of Orissa that harbor the fear of losing their job by hordes of robots soon appearing on the scene, a type of apprehension that is gripping millions of doctors, engineers and various technicians spread all over our lonely planet, I may take this opportunity to reassure you all that this won’t happen. The reason behind my conviction is the bare fact that bots, cobots and robots can perform a lot of duties allocated to them by human beings but are not capable of THINKING like Homo sapiens and so cannot replace humans.
However, yet another group points out to the destruction of Frankenstein (his creation) as a natural corollary to what happens when Artificial Intelligence is employed to do something which is humanly possible. To this group, my answer is that contemporary scientists and researchers won’t commit the mistakes that Frankenstein committed and so are spared the fatal fate.
But what mistakes Victor Frankenstein made that led to the calamity? This blog post will walk you through some of these, at the end of which you will see the result yourself.
Meanwhile, let me make it quite clear here that there is an irrefutable link between Victor Frankenstein’s creation and Artificial Intelligence. The issues Mary Shelly raised about a man-made being are also relevant in terms of AI, on the light of things that happened more than 200 years ago when modern-day AI concepts were not yet formed. Add to it Elon Musk’s qualms about creation of an ‘Immortal Dictator’ if AI researches are allowed to continue unchecked, while his self-drive cars feature AI in various forms and manners. However, let us concentrate on the blunders Frankenstein committed, from which we may take our lessons.
Seclusion – One of Frankenstein’s gravest errors involve seclusion. He kept his research in total isolation –hiding his developments from his peers, and as a result when his creation went on a homicidal spree, killing and maiming all and sundry, there was none to offer him any solution. Had he worked as a team, his team members would have warned him, stopping him from creating an evil force, while suggesting creation of something that is helpful and good. Also, Frankenstein failed to control his creation, while succumbing to the perils of a lone and isolated researcher. However, today’s researchers
work in a group like OpenAI, which is a non-profit AI research organization “that aims at promoting and developing friendly AI in such a way as to benefit humanity as a whole. This San Francisco based organization also aims to freely collaborate with other institutions and researchers by making its patents and research items open to the public.
Poor Programming – While creating his creature, Frankenstein failed to program his creation properly, thus leaving a lot of things unfinished. In today’s parlance, this is known as ’Scalable oversight’ which tantamount to certain irregularities, , such as “The inventor has failed to observe, train and control his/her invention/creation.” Needless to say, such professional negligence while dealing with Artificial Intelligence can lead to catastrophic results and so are meticulously avoided by modern day researchers.
Inadequate Funding made everything haywire. Lack of adequate fund forced Frankenstein to dig up graves at dead of night and scoop up body parts in order to create his creature. But such awful collection of bizarre body parts resulted in creation of equally awful creature, where the legs did not match the torso, while one arm was found shorter than the other. When you are dealing with Artificial Intelligence, this meant disruption in every field. Short of funds obviously created all the problems.
However, modern day Artificial Intelligence researchers start projects with funds that are sufficient to take care of the following phases.
- Discovery and Analysis Phase –This phase is generally devoted to conducting feasibility study as well as success factors of a project. However, this is mostly done free of any charge.
- Prototype Implementation and Evaluation Phase –A prototype may be defined as a pre-production model of a product conceived by sponsor that is subjected to various tests and assessments. Changes, if any, are subsequently incorporated and presented till final approval. Actual production starts after the prototype is finally accepted and approved. Project managers often take the help of Artificial Intelligence to adopt the desired result. However, this involves substantial expenditure to create a sales-friendly prototype.
- Minimum Viable Product or MVP –As the term suggests, a MVP displays the viability of a product in terms of basic issues and prototype finding reports and are presented to a small group of customers for obtaining their views and observations. Needless to say, the feedback here is quite essential as changes and alterations are implemented for proceeding to the next stage - the final production. However, the cost here is also substantial as oftentimes prototypes are completely discarded and new ones are made to implement change in design and structure.
- End Stage- Product Release – This stage witnesses total implementation of all changes, refinements as well as implementation of market-friendly features, which may cost money for the stakeholders. However, this brings us back to the cost factor which Mary Shelly ignored or overlooked, yet is very much essential for implementation of Artificial Intelligent and its successful use. What’s more, it promotes researchers and project managers to work together towards reaching a common goal, not with a sense of competition or seclusion (as happened with Frankenstein) but with a sense of camaraderie and amity.
Despite Mary Shelley’s restricted scientific expertise, she could anticipate many of the challenges A.I. faces now. Even Microsoft had its share of misfortune. For instance, when Bill Gates and Company, sometime ago designed a chatbot, an A.I. system called Tay.ai, “to entertain and engage” 18- to 24-year-olds, hostile users turned Tay into a troll, remarking it as racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic, etc with the result that MS had to withdraw it from the field. Nevertheless, it all the more establishes the fact that Artificial intelligence won’t be killing us all—but the more people work on the problem, the more the odds will recede. Frankenstein’s creature did not have to be a black spot on society. He devolved into a monster of revenge because he was abandoned by his creator – due mostly to the misuse or abuse of AI.