Artificial Intelligence, most often abbreviated as AI, is one of those self-explanatory and widely known concepts popularized through culture, film, sci-fi novels, just about everywhere. Everywhere in our culture, there is some sort of representation of AI and a ‘robotic’ future. At the same time, there is so much more realness to ‘AI’ than what can be seen through a cultural lens. Future-oriented concepts like AI are no longer fantasies from, say, Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novels. AI is already integrated with many aspects of computer science and applied successfully to everyday applications we use. Since AI is also no longer a novelty, scientists and academics are looking at how to best implement the technology, as well as the morality and ethics of such a thing. This is why some of the more pressing questions in the IT community and computer science are; why is AI important for the future, and how will we embrace the technology in a secure, and safe way?
The Importance of AI In The Future
According to IBM, one of the forefathers of AI and computing, the concept “enables computers and machines to mimic the perception, learning, problem-solving, and decision-making capabilities of the human mind”. IBM further states that “After decades of being relegated to science fiction, today, AI is part of our everyday lives”. AI is essentially anything in computer science that resembles human intelligence and is there to ideally make life more efficient or better. The initial concept of AI is much older and was conceived by Alan Turing in 1950 when he broke the Nazi’s famous ENIGMA code. He introduced the ‘Turing Test’ that would determine whether a computer could process information like a human being.
The Kardashev Scale
What could AI do for our society? Well, let’s think about something called ‘The Kardashev Scale’. The Kardashev Scale, brought about by Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev in 1964, is a scale that classifies human advancement. The premise is that the progress of civilization depends on technological advancements. The advancements our societies make, in turn, affect our progress on the Kardashev scale. The better technology society has, the more energy it can make use of which in turn leads to the creation of more technology.
Kardashev proposed Type I, Type II, and Type III categories which define a society’s advancement. Type I proposes a society that has harnessed energy on its planet, Type II is a society that can harness energy from nearby stars, and finally, a Type III civilization will colonize the stars and will utilize the entire energy of a galaxy. Physicist Michio Kaku famously noted that we have not even entered Type I status yet, while the other tiers may be reachable only in the very distant future. AI could potentially be one invention that will move us along faster on this scale.
Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics
We mentioned famous sci-fi novelist Isaac Asimov earlier. Isaac Asimov had put down three laws of robotics in his sci-fi novel title ‘The Three Laws’ in 1942 which stated that; 1) A robot may never harm a human and must protect humans, 2) A robot must follow human orders unless in conflict with the first law and 3) A robot should protect its existence without conflicting with the first three laws.
As we can see, AI has been the dream for more than half a century. Well, what was once thought to be impossible is now possible and with the level of acceleration in technology that we see today, barely anything seems impossible. AI has a secure place in the technological world, and ideally, it is here to improve the quality of our lives. However, if we don’t consider the cybersecurity side, AI could easily end up going down the wrong path (not exactly a Skynet scenario perhaps, but we don’t know yet). Let’s discuss AI’s applications in the real world and why the cybersecurity sector needs to be proactive about AI.
AI’s Present And Future Applications
AI technologies being developed today are not yet at the stage where we can call them ‘True AI’. Instead, AI is in its infancy and is still ‘learning’ along with us. AI essentially consists of the following areas such as;
- Neural networks
- Machine learning
- NLP or Natural Language Processing
- Integration with quantum computing in the future
Today, most real-world AI applications are in the machine learning or ML area which makes use of behavioral analysis and algorithms. Essentially, the more data (big data) an AI algorithm has, the more intelligent and useful it will be. Today, some applications of AI available to us include;
- Voice-activated assistants such as Alexa or Siri
- Tesla which uses AI for autonomous driving
- Predictive technologies used in video streaming services
- Music streaming services that offer recommendations
- Mapping apps like Google Maps
- Building advanced environments and behavior in games
- Consumer robotics
- Biometric security systems all over the world
- The healthcare industry where AI reduces workload and speeds up research
- In the financial industry where a lot of work and management can be offloaded to AI
- Combating spam, abuse, and fake news in the social media sector
- Helping predict purchases and consumer behavior in e-commerce
- Marketing, where customer insights and customer communication can be helped by AI
- Uses in education to help teachers and students teach and learn more effectively
As you can see, that’s quite a list (and a lot more could be added). AI today is more a tool than an entity that thinks for itself. AI can learn what you like, where you go, connect with your devices to learn more about you. It gives businesses better efficiency by offering better data insight, gathering much more data than humanly possible, and making sense of it.
By learning, AI can also predict and suggest. It can improve security by learning and detecting anomalies, and be used for automation in the industry. AI is there to help us be more efficient, more organized, and to save resources.
In the future (let’s remain in the 21st century) we should see a world replete with sensors, and an AI brain that controls these sensors to help with everything from climate change to regulating traffic, to suggesting an enjoyable weekend for you and your family. A future AI should also understand human privacy, and know not to infringe upon it.
A panel of about a thousand individuals from the technology sector was asked about the future of AI in our world in a study conducted by Pew Research. The study concluded that 63% of the participants believed that we would live in a better world in 2030, while 37% thought the opposite. It is normal to be skeptical about new inventions, though.
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AI And Cybersecurity Must Coexist Effectively
We have covered AI applications, and the benefits are indeed staggering. However, what are the responsibilities that come with such a technological revolution? For such a technology, security awareness is key, power comes with responsibility. In essence, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity are disruptive. They are also yin and yang, or two sides of a coin that must naturally coexist.
AI is going to be key in providing security requirements for governments and businesses as well as help the cybersecurity sector detect cybercrime better than ever before. Moreover, experts say that AI will improve trust and reputation for organizations due to enhanced security in the future as it will eliminate human error in cybersecurity approaches.
AI, right now, is working with big data via machine learning and deep learning, and enormous amounts of that data need to be secured because it is vulnerable to cybercrime and exploitation. In the same way, cybersecurity can use AI to immeasurably improve performance and security solutions. Cybercriminals also know that any advancements in AI by the ‘good guys’ will make it tougher for them to launch attacks.