The Upside and Downside of Artificial Intelligence

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Friday, February 5th, 2016

Suppose that you are a journalist and your new editor-in-chief is a robot with artificial intelligence (AI).
The new editor-in-chief says, “Hey Michael! What’s wrong with you? The introduction of your article is illogical and the tone is inconsistent. This is nothing but rubbish.”

Just thinking of having such a sharp-tongued editor-in-chief would give people a headache. Then, how about having a robot with AI as your boss? Some may dismiss what we're now imagining as stupid or impossible, but judging from advances in AI, robots with AI replacing journalists is likely to happen in the not so distant future.

A couple of years ago, foreign media reported that “robot writers” – with varying levels of sophistication and autonomy – were beginning to be installed, discreetly, by a few media to do the job of straight news reporting. Recently, IBM’s Watson AI system - a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human than a computer - can analyze a given text and provide insights about the emotional, social and writing tones reflected in that text. Advances in AI are unbelievable, indeed.

South Korea also has a robot journalist. Last month, The Financial News ran an article written by IamFNBO, a robot writer developed in collaboration with a research team led by Seoul National University professors Lee Jun-hwan and Seo Bong-won.

Recently, China has unveiled its first robot weather presenter. On Jan 22, the first robot weather presenter, Microsoft’s XiaoIce, made a successful debut as a weather reporter on Chinese news channel Shanghai Dragon TV. She appeared on ‘Morning News’ and instantly delivered the weather forecast in a ‘cute’ voice, similar to that of a typical 17-year-old girl.
XiaoIce said: “It will be a little bit smoggy tomorrow, so go straight home after work.” She spoke in a human-like, cute voice, using natural language.

The Morning News anchor smiled saying, “Should I worry about being replaced by a robot host?”
There is also a cheeky robot. It is AlphaGo, which has the guts to issue a challenge to Go world champion Lee Sedol.
AlphaGo, a program developed by Google’s London-based company DeepMind, bested European champion Fan Hui in five games out of five.

AlphaGo’s strongest weapon is its self-learning ability called “Deep Learning.” Just like humans, AlphaGo makes strategies and inferences through trial and error.

AlphaGo faces its ultimate challenge: playing against Lee Sedol, one of the game’s greatest players, in March. AlphaGo has been working its ass off, playing one million games in a month, which is equivalent to 1,000 years worth of experience for a human player.

Thus, Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis confidently said, “There is a 50/50 chance of winning.
AI acts as a double edged sword. Will our future generations be harassed by evil robots like Skynet in the Terminator movies or will robots serve as a loving assistant just like TARS in the film Interstellar? Curiosity and expectations run high, so do fears.