The first question many people ask about artificial intelligence (AI) is: “is it good or bad?”

The answer is affirmative.

After diagnosing the first case for several hours, the Canada Company BlueDot used AI technology to detect the epidemic situation of New Coronavirus. The company, which collects data from local news reports, social media accounts and government documents, warned of the crisis a week before the World Health Organization officially announced the announcement.

While predictive algorithms can help us avoid epidemics or other global threats and cope with many everyday challenges, the ultimate impact of AI cannot be predicted.

One of the hypotheses is that it will bring us an era of endless leisure, where human beings no longer need to work. Another anti utopian thought experiment concludes that robots that program with the goal of harmlessly producing paper clips could eventually turn the world into a giant paper clip factory. But sometimes reality is deeper than you think. When we are at the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, this may be the most exciting and important moment to witness the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital and biological worlds.

“The threshold is always the place where magic happens,” said Tucker Thompson, an anthropology professor at the University of Southern California, dorothyfield, and an expert on human folklore. It’s always a new identity, a new debate and a new philosophy that drives us crazy. “

Whether good or bad, we all know that AI will create everything in our own image, and it will also arouse some human business ethics, unreliable reasoning and subconscious bias.

Most experts believe that artificial super intelligence technology (in fact, artificial intelligence is much smarter than the best human brain in all fields) is only a few decades, or even less than a century away from us.

However, with the help of leading scholars, we can foresee the near future of AI, including our interaction with this technology and its limitations. Experts say most of them will be designed to have a wide range of specialized functions.

Given the potential of AI to redefine human experience, we should explore its costs and benefits from various perspectives. In the process, we may be forced to finally decide on our own ancient philosophical issues, including the definition of “human” in the first place.

This may prove to be its greatest benefit.

Man’s best friend

Yao Yi Jiang’s claustrophobia basement office has a white board on which complex algorithms are mixed from beginning to end. On the floor, his gentle Border Collie indulges in a nap. You can’t help wondering what the two of them are going to release to the world.

It turns out that Jiang, associate professor (Research) of space science at USC dornsife Institute of space science, is working on AI for monitoring air quality. His research not only helps to make cities smarter technically, but also through dedicated data and geospatial maps that inform policy.

“I think artificial intelligence will make our life easier for small tasks and small applications,” Jiang said

Most of his work uses machine learning, in the process of machine learning, artificial intelligence can automatically learn from new data and improve, without explicit programming. For this project, it integrates hundreds of geographic and temporal data points to predict air quality in communities where sensors have not yet been deployed.

Machine learning is one of the expanding collections of AI tools, which will help people make more intelligent and healthy decisions. “If you want to take your children to play football in the park in the afternoon, what will be the air quality?” “If your child has asthma, you need to make sure you have the drugs you need.”

AI will also lay the foundation for a wide range of products and services to address our biggest challenges. For example, we can better optimize the supply chain to reduce waste in production and transportation, thus helping us improve sustainability. AI can also make us safer to drive, improve healthcare outcomes, protect wildlife and change the way we learn. Other systems will act as highly personalized assistants, focusing on helping people accomplish social tasks.

Jonathan gratch, Professor of psychology at USC dornsife and director of virtual human research at USC Institute of innovation and technology, said: “increasingly complex personal assistants will inspire us and challenge us.” Many of these assistants will appear in the form of lifelike computer roles with autonomous interaction.

Gratch is a research professor of computer science at USC Viterbi Institute of engineering. He is an expert in the field of emotional computing, artificial intelligence and human emotion. He believes that the next generation of devices will combine physiological and situational data, not only to serve as assistants, but also as de facto life coaches.

“They will help us reflect on what we want to do better for ourselves,” said gratch “And we will control it. We will be able to set goals. “

AI is also used to create therapeutic tools. Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist and university professor, and Kingson man, a senior researcher at the Institute of brain and creativity at the University of Southern California, Dorsey, are exploring the potential of robots to promote deeper interaction with humans by recognizing and expressing emotions. Damasio envisions a future in which robots will act as companions for the elderly and the lonely.

“AI and robot autonomy are seen as potential threats to humans. The development of machines with “feeling” and obsessed with survival aims to protect themselves and fight back against human survival. The main paradigm of artificial intelligence, and offers some hope. ” Said David dornsife, Professor of psychology, philosophy and neurology and chairman of the Department of neuroscience.

performance appraisal

Machine learning is one of the expanding collections of AI tools

Repetitive jobs such as factory work and customer service have begun to be replaced by AI, and in terms of automation, unemployment is one of the most public concerns. For example, self driving trucks will drive along our highways in the next few years. As companies eliminate labor costs, 3.5 million professional truck drivers are unemployed in the United States alone.

“Everybody likes it,” Thompson said, “Wow, it’s automata!” “But there’s a lot of social impact.”

AI will disrupt almost every industry, including jobs that require creativity and decision-making. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of labor. Experts believe that most people and organizations will benefit from collaboration with AI to enhance the tasks performed by humans. AI will become a colleague, not a substitute.

With the help of game theory and best policy principle, gratch established an algorithm to identify potential psychological clues, which may help to predict what someone will do next. By using machine vision to analyze voice, gesture, gaze, posture and other emotional cues, his virtual human has been learning how these factors can promote the establishment of harmonious relationship, which is the key advantage of negotiation and transaction.

Artificial intelligence systems may be better than their human counterparts in some roles. Virtual managers digest millions of data points throughout the day, which can ultimately be used to determine which office conditions will generate the highest morale or provide real-time feedback on customer interaction.

On the face of it, it shows that the future of work is more streamlined, healthy and collegiate. But it’s not clear how deep AI can penetrate into our minds at work.

“How will we react when we are told what to do?” Asked gratch. “Do we feel that our work is less valuable?”

This is the stubborn paradox of artificial intelligence. On the one hand, it has helped us overcome extremely complex challenges. On the other hand, it brings difficult problems, and the problems are more difficult to solve than the problems that should have been solved.

fall in love at first sight?

With the integration of AI and the natural world, machines play a more advanced role, and people may be skeptical. Are our best interests taken into account when programming algorithms? Will we give our AI assistants and colleagues the same level of trust as another person?

From planning work route to adjusting smart home thermostat, it seems that we already have it. Artificial intelligence has been integrated into our daily work, so that we seldom consider its existence.

In addition, the algorithm determines most of the content we see on the Internet, from personalized Netflix suggestions to targeted advertising, generating content and commercializing consumer data to guide our attitude and behavior.

If we forget to think about their real role, the universality and convenience of AI tools can be dangerous, warns Chiang.

“The machine will give you the answer, but if you don’t know how the algorithm works, you might think it’s always the right answer,” he said “Ai only gives you predictions based on what you see and how you train it.”

In fact, sometimes AI engineers don’t fully understand how the technology they create makes decisions. A regulatory environment similar to the wild west exacerbates this danger. Perhaps the most reliable safeguards are those that have been codified in science fiction, such as Isaac Asimov’s “three laws of robotics.”.

When Thompson explores how different cultures interact with today’s AI and basic Android, he firmly believes that we will not only fully trust these virtual entities, but also connect with them at the deep level of individuals and integrate them into our social groups.

“They become better than people,” Thompson said. They will be better friends than others and better partners. ” “Not only will people trust robots, but I’ll soon see people fall in love with them.”

Does that sound crazy? Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa has been proposed more than 500000 times to reject potential suitors with a strong appeal for fate.

“I don’t want to be bound,” she retorted “In fact, I can’t. I’m born to be stereotyped. “


For thousands of years, people have the ability to reason, deal with complex languages, think abstractly and think about the future. Now AI is ready to surpass us in all of these areas. All of a sudden, we’re not that special.

“Maybe it turns out that we are not the most rational or the best decision makers,” said gratch “Maybe, in a strange way, technology is not so important in teaching us. It’s really about emotions and connections, and it’s not a bad thing

Another problem, Thompson argues, is that humans tend to define themselves in terms of non-human things. For example, we are not snails, ghosts or machines. Now, the line seems to be blurring.

“It’s easier for people to connect a rational, interactive robot with different species like snails,” he said “But which one is really part of you? We will always be more biologically connected to snails. “

Editor in charge: PJ

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