Is The Fear Of Artificial Intelligence A Little Too Literal?

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Jamorjith Jayaraj

3 min read

05 October 2020


Artificial intelligence is certainly a buzzword; ‘a’ word since it’s an open compound word and it is definitely buzzing.

AI is a lot more widespread than what most common folks realize. Tasks as simple as auto-suggesting-to-filling search inputs to suggesting the next word to type, pass off on as something so natural to most people despite being products of AI.

Companies large and small are embracing automation at a rapid pace, so much so that, and covertly, that it would be part and parcel of our lives even before we truly realize its widespread existence.

Yet, there is that fear lingering in the minds of many, probably the majority, that AI is dangerous! So, dangerous that one day it will take control over humanity as a dictator that it has never experienced before. One that all collective human efforts may fail to contain!

Is that fear justified is a question for another day, but today, the mood is to explore the origin of that fear and why it could easily conquer the minds of many.

To some extent, the fear can be attributed to those sci-fi movies where AI adorns the role of the antagonist. One who wrecks havoc thence enslaving humans. Though in all those movies humans destroy that evil supercomputer, with justified evil intentions, the fear remains. 

Well, films are magical in the sense that it takes advantage of our brain’s inability to differentiate between reality and virtuality.

That fear could also be one accentuated by the comments of some renowned people, including scientists and business leaders, despite being part of the AI revolution suspecting its unexplored dark sides. Not to mention politicians, though they are better not mentioned.

Not to forget those unexpected results of experiments where AI conveniently ignored commands of its creator and chose to use its ‘mind’.

Reasons could be many. But, maybe, just maybe or is it just maybe? That the connotation of the word ‘artificial’ isn’t anywhere close to positive in the modern world of ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ could be the main reason that the fear is so widespread.

Since decades recent, humans have been coerced to believe that anything artificial is bad. Can’t blame them since they have seen the detrimental effects of the widespread use of artificially created products ranging from cosmetics to medicines.

The only way out seems to be organic and natural. Exactly at this juncture is when intelligence of an ‘artificial’ kind seems to have made its grand entry. Some timing, huh? 

Needless to say, the ‘anti-artificial’ mindset that had set in well could easily reject anything associated with that word, even if it’s intelligence, obviously, out of fears associated.

Artificial intelligence is most probably a misnomer. Had it been rechristened would the fear have the same intensity? What if it was called something as crazy as virtual intelligence or machine-generated intelligence or ‘e’ntelligence? 

Would the fear be the same? Or will that ‘intelligence’ soon become powerful enough to identify this human error and rename itself?