The Impact of AI

General History:

The concept of artificial intelligence dates back to ancient Greece, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that AI began to become a field of study. Ever since digital computers were first built in the 1940s, many computer scientists have strived to create technology that is as intelligent as humans. The history of AI can be characterized by many significant milestones and breakthroughs. Despite having a brief history, this technology has completely revolutionized the world and has fundamentally changed what humans are capable of.

The groundwork for AI was laid out during the 1950s and 1960s. According to an article from IBM,  Alan Turing published a paper titled Computing Machinery and Intelligence in 1950 where he proposed to answer the question “can machines think?” and introduced the Turing Test to determine if a computer can display the same intelligence as a human. In 1956, John Mccarthy coined the term “artificial intelligence” at the first AI conference at Dartmouth college. This was followed by the creation of the first running AI software program, the Logic Theorist, that same year by Allen Newell, J.C. Shaw, and Herbert Simon. In 1967, Frank Rosenblatt built the Mark 1 Perceptron, which was the first computer based on a neural network that learned through trial and error. In 1968, Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert published a book titled Perceptrons, which became a landmark work on neural networks. Progress was slow within AI advancement during the 20th century due to limitations in computational power, but the 1980s saw the rise of AI programs that mimicked human intelligence become used in AI applications. In the 1990s there were many advancements within the technological world and therefore there was a rise in the cognitive ability of AI. For example, IBM’s Deep Blue beat then world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a chess match that occurred in 1997. AI has since experienced a renaissance in the 21st century due to many advancements within machine learning and computer science. In 2023, there was a rise in large language models like ChatGPT that have revolutionized technology and completely changed how humans work. Despite the field’s brief history, AI technologies have become integral to daily life and will only continue to evolve. 


Recent Developments: 

In recent years, artificial intelligence has gained language and image recognition capabilities that are comparable to those of humans. According to an article from Our World in Data, 10 years ago no machine could provide language or image recognition at a human level, however AI performance has recently been evaluated in five different domains (handwriting recognition, speech recognition, image recognition, reading comprehension, and language understanding) and ended up beating humans in all of these tests. Additionally, AI has become so cheap and convenient through programs such as Chat GPT that you can access through the phone in your pocket, rapidly spreading the influence of this technology. These recent developments in the AI field have made it possible to use these programs in a wide range of new ways. AI is being used in almost every single field of work including healthcare, travel, education, government, science, etc. For example, several governments have purchased autonomous weapons for warfare and some use AI systems for surveillance and oppression. Furthermore, as this technology continues to rapidly evolve, ethical considerations have also gained prominence as the implications of having access to such advanced technology with human capabilities impacts various aspects of society, economy, and daily life.


International/Government Response:

Artificial intelligence has the potential to bring significant benefits to every aspect of human life. Humans are living in a century where AI is undergoing rapid advancement, but the implications of computers with human-like intelligence has caused many people to have concerns and complaints. Many AI programs pose a danger to humanity if not used ethically. According to an article from Tech Target, AI has caused a lot of misinformation to spread, rendered many jobs useless as humans have been replaced by technology, has the ability to create incredibly realistic and graphic fake photos/videos of people, has tracked many people’s whereabouts through facial monitoring, and much more. For example, according to an article from NBC News, Taylor Swift is one of the most prominent victims of this technology. Fake, AI generated sexually explicit photos of the singer have continued to circle around on social media platforms and have been viewed by millions of people. Although she may be the most famous, Taylor Swift is not the only victim of this issue. The rapid evolution of AI has made media manipulation easily available to the public and some smartphone apps are capable of nearly seamless face swaps. Image based sexual abuse targeting celebrities has appeared in the top Google and Bing results and websites only monetize that content. Many young girls are also being terrorized by deep fakes being made of them by their peers. According to another article from NBC News, a teenage victim of sexually explicit deep fakes along with Representative Joe Morelle are currently advocating for a bipartisan bill that would criminalize sharing this kind of material. In May of 2023, Morelle introduced the Preventing Deep Fakes of Intimate Images Act and the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, but no further action has been taken. This act would criminalize the non consensual sharing of sexually explicit deep fakes at a federal level and create a right of private action for victims to be able to sue creators and distributors of the material while still remaining anonymous. Currently, U.S. victims are limited by only a few state laws that govern AI and there is no federal law limiting the technology. Many proponents of AI do not blame the technology in itself for their concerns, but rather the way they are being consumed. People are hopeful that government regulatory measures can address many of the risks associated with AI.


Future Projections: 

Artificial intelligence is expected to grow rapidly within the next few years. According to an article from Simpli Learn, AI systems in 2024 are referred tо аs “weаk АI” due tо their limitаtiоns. Hоwever, estаblishing strоng АI is the future оf аrtifiсiаl intelligenсe. Currently, this technology саn оnly defeаt humаns in а few раrtiсulаr skills, but it is projected thаt in the future АI will be аble tо beаt humаns in аll соgnitive tаsks. This will have bоth a роsitive аnd negative impact on people as the next five years of AI development will likely lead to major societal changes. According to an article from Tech Target, future AI systems will have a major impact on education, cybersecurity,  healthcare, military, finance, law, and transportation. Many businesses and governments will partner with AI and use it as an augmentation of human intelligence. By 2028 all of these fields are projected to become completely unrecognizable. As a result, this technology will become incredibly powerful which means many governments at every level will seek to regulate the technology through various bills and laws. As AI continues to evolve, its impact on society and whether or not it is positive or negative depends on how effectively, responsibly, and ethically humans navigate the technology,