You’ll find the introduction to this series here.
This post looks at ‘Artificial Intelligence’.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area still under development and, in common with almost all new technologies, it has an undefined future. This makes it both a dream and a nightmare when it comes to science fiction. Several big names in science and technology, including Bill Gates, Steve Wosniak, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have expressed concerns about the safety of this innovation. It is a subject still very much up for debate.
Arguments include discussions on whether AI can ever outstrip human intelligence: in the current narrow fields of application, there’s evidence it can outperform humans at specific tasks, but, as far as we know (military intelligence is not the most fertile of grounds for disclosure) so far no one has developed a system where control has been entirely surrendered to AI without the possibility of human intervention.
One worry involves autonomous weapons, an area clearly fraught with potential catastrophe. If your story involves such action, it is as well to be up to speed with current thinking in this area.
The major cause of concerns are twofold: that AI might be deliberately programmed to do damage and even to kill, notwithstanding the now questionable Three Laws of Robotics devised by Isaac Asimov. The second concern is that AI might be programmed to do a beneficial task but either poor programming, or the intervention of AI’s own reading of logic and priorities, may result in that task becoming destructive instead in order to achieve the intended final aim.
Other concerns the writer may need to consider are those involved with jobs and employment. It is clear many repetitive tasks, and some very complex engineering, surgical, and construction operations can be achieved more accurately and swiftly by AI. Does this threaten jobs across the different skills sets?
So, will your imagined world be one in which AI is a benefit to humanity, or will it include some threat to our existence? How do you see these scenarios developing? I’ve provided links to a few sources of information, should you need them. Have some fun with the idea. I did in my SciFi trilogy, Generation Mars with its volumes titled ‘Blood Red Dust’, ‘War Over Dust’, and ‘Return to Dust’; that final title dealing with an AI threat.