Would you be willing to read a novel written by a computer, or listen to a song composed by a robot? As artificial intelligence (AI) continues its rapid growth into all areas of society there are hints that it could overshadow human intelligence. The aspects of the human mind that make people unique are under threat from a technology that we have created and programmed.
The Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award is a Japanese short story competition, out of the 1,450 entries in 2016 eleven were apparently written by non-humans. One line from a story co-authored by AI was profound considering the situation, “The day a computer wrote a novel. The computer, placing priority on the pursuit of its own joy, stopped working for humans.” While one assumes that this line was written by the human author, there is still a lingering feeling that a computer could have this awareness. Novel writing computers could lead to an event when some of the best literature of the year is written by a computer, and bigger literary awards will have a significant decision to make.
Computers can now forge famous paintings with impressive accuracy and algorithms have been created to identify such fakes. Computers can flirt and write jokes, it seems that every year that goes by the differences between humans and computers decreases. The close proximity between human intelligence and AI has led to questions about what happens when AI eclipses us.
One of the most interesting settings for this debate will be in arts and culture, how easily accepted will AI authors and musicians be accepted or will they be rejected outright. The art critic, Martin Gayford, wrote, “The unresolved questions about machine art are, first, what its potential is and, second, whether—irrespective of the quality of the work produced—it can truly be described as ‘creative’ or ‘imaginative.” If people decide that all work by AI is not creative because it came from a computer programmed by a human then a world of artistic possibilities will be lost. Will customers care that what they are reading is created by a machine, using vastly different techniques than people use. Who would gain credit for the work, the compute or the human who created the AI.
Mark Zuckerberg has predicted that in a decade AI will start outperforming humans, with Facebook trying to build AI with “better perception than people”. This relates to some of the basic human senses like seeing and hearing. The main way AI will redefine human intelligence is by making a lot of it irrelevant, many workers will be looking over their shoulders, not at robots, but computers. If AI is more perceptive that does not mean that it is better, Zuckerberg made sure to calm the human population by confirming that computers will not be “thinking or generally better [than humans]”. For example, a computer may be programmed to possess the ability to beat a person at chess, but the computer cannot stop the game and write a letter about its style of play. The same computer cannot beat a human at backgammon either, for this to happen it would need to be reprogrammed by a human first.
One of the most unique creations by human intelligence – language – will also be adopted by AI. While there have been reports of AI programmes being shut down because the AI bots created their own language, these have been proved to be wide of the mark. However, AI creating its own language could be a possibility in the future, this scary prospect could be the point where AI overtakes human intelligence. AI with its own method of computing will not only been seen as the time its took over human intelligence, but also the time where people fear how safe it is to continually developing AI.
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of AI for humans is, what made us unique will no longer do so. Humans could understand aliens from another planet creating art and music, but coming from technology that is controlled and programmed by humans will leave many people feeling uneasy.