‘Nothing can replace the real thing’: Panel discusses growth of artificial intelligence

Panelists discussed the relationship between emotion and artificial intelligence, and how humans and robots are changing with the expansion of technology at the “Beyond Human: Emotion and AI” event Feb. 13. The panel answered questions about human influence on artificial intelligence and how it impacts society.

“Why would the ultimate achievement be when (artificial intelligence is) on the same level as humans?” Lisa Joy, the co-creator of HBO show “Westworld,” said at the event. “Why would they stop there? It’s hubris to assume that (growth) would just stop.”

The use of artificial intelligence is growing at a rapid pace. Seventy-five percent of executives from more than 200 businesses are developing a plan to implement the technology within the next three years, Intelligence Unit report by The Economist found. About  23 percent of Americans worry about losing their jobs to artificial intelligence, according to a Northeastern University and Gallup survey.

Artificial intelligence is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and translation between languages.

John McCarthy, a Stanford professor, first coined the term “artificial intelligence” in 1956, and invented a computer programming language for the science three years later, according to a Stanford news story.

Joy, who headlined the event, was joined by Chapman professor and author James Blaylock, University of Roehampton professor Caroline Bainbridge, Rose Eveleth, a producer and writer, and Jonathan Gratch, the University of Southern California’s director for virtual human research.

Patrick Fuery, the dean of Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences led the panel by asking questions submitted by Wilkinson students.

“One of the reasons people build (artificial intelligence) is to interact with it,” Gratch said during the event. “They create a stereotype of not real emotion, but of how emotion should be.”

During the event, panelists discussed how the rise of artificial intelligence in daily life can bring up ethical dilemmas, like those shown in “Westworld” and the film “Ex Machina.” While health and science fields are the ones usually impacted by artificial intelligence – according to the study by The Economist – some professors discussed how it could impact literature and the arts and humanities.

“Nothing android can replace the real thing,” Blaylock said about the role of artificial intelligence in writing poetry and novels.
Anna Leahy, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, presented two poems at the start of the night. She believed that artificial intelligence needs the humanities, rather than the other way around.

“The growth of (artificial intelligence) should foster a concurrent rise in the value of the arts and humanities,” Leahy said. “Interdisciplinary thinking and breadth may become more valuable because a machine is more adept at specialization and more adept at classifying than creating.”

With big names such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warning people about the threat of artificial intelligence, tensions are increasing.

“I think the two biggest fears people have surrounding technology is invasion of privacy and lack of autonomy,” said Jack Kirby, an undeclared student. “Technology is becoming a lot more personal. Through a machine’s algorithms like Alexa’s or Google Home’s, they begin to know what you do, and what you like and what you purchase among other things. In that vein, people think machines and technology are taking over our jobs and will eventually control our lives.”

However, even with this outlook that many share, Kirby is optimistic for the future.

“In my opinion, I think (artificial intelligence) is something that can be super influential and positive if created with the right care,” he said. “Everyone’s worried that, once (artificial intelligence) has advanced enough, something like SkyNet (from “The Terminator”) will emerge and destroy us. But if there’s a way to put a failsafe program or reasoning into the (artificial intelligence), then I think that (artificial intelligence) would be safe to progress.”

Following the increasing trend of technological advancements, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts recently announced the addition of a virtual reality/augmented reality minor in the fall semester. Bill Kroyer, the head of the Digital Arts program and one of the founding members of the minor, talked about the impact of the program on artificial intelligence.

“Chapman is aware that this technology will have a huge impact on our lives, and we need to stay up with what’s happening,” Kroyer said.

by Alya Hijazi

*Originally published in the Panther on 2/14/18*

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