LIB 200; Professor Holmstrom
Statement Purpose/Thesis Statement:
As a student entering a Liberal Arts class within the science and technology field, I had no clue what to expect to learn aside from thinking we would have to discuss science and write papers about scientific research and our majors. While the idea of artificial intelligence is very vivid and real, it is still a very vague concept within our society. Quickly becoming anguished, I realized that younger generations live so cluelessly about the development of artificial intelligence and the presence of this technology, while other basic technology witnesses all the fame and glory when we live a different reality. Clearly, there are many older generations living within this “technological era” who are still very clueless about technology and some things which seem as simple as internet and smartphones. Being unaware of the technology around us, or what we are currently exposed to and what we will continue to be exposed to, creates a sense of insecurity and fear towards a reality which is unfolding right before our eyes. The creation of artificial intelligence has been happening and developing for many decades now, and yet we live in an era where the next iPhone still happens to blow away the minds of consumers. The realization of many being unaware about artificial intelligence and how it can and will affect us, motivated the choice of this topic. The best possible outcome for this project would be to create an awareness of artificial intelligence as a reality and becoming as casual as the latest iPhone at least for the audience. The worst possible outcome would be creating a bigger sense of insecurity and fear towards artificial intelligence among the listeners. While I’m sure most interviewees have little to no clue about artificial intelligence or have yet to consider it a reality, informing both younger and older generations about the possibilities of artificial intelligence as a part of everyday life would be a great outcome for this project. I’d like to promote awareness to dissipate any sense of paranoia or fear towards a reality we face as humans, and instead replace those emotions with curiosity. Encouraging early education about technology related to what we’ve discussed vividly in class seems to be the best route as well as opening the minds of those who are unfortunately clueless to our reality as I was recently. As a platform for presentation, I’d like to create a podcast informing the audience about artificial intelligence, while interviewing generations both younger and older to receive feedback, and to present knowledge and promote early education about technology. I’ll be able perceive opinions and how they can change towards technology once it has been explained further. I’d also like to figure out whether this reality we will face scares or encourages the outlook my interviewees have about the future.
The term of “Singularity” is one not many familiar to most even living in the 21st Century. Singularity is a predicted upcoming event, in which computers and all artificial intelligence will be able to self improve. The artificial intelligence would either recreate themselves or be able to create technology much more advanced than current technology. But how often have we heard anyone mention Singularity around us? Before taking this course, I had no clue what the term Singularity meant or that a theory as such existed. Ray Kurzweil believes firmly that Singularity can and will happen: he predicts it will happen in about 2045. Kurzweil refers to himself as a singularitarian, stating “A Singularitarian is someone who understands the Singularity and has reflected on its own meaning.” (370). According to him, Singularity is more of an understanding rather than a belief, and deep reflection is needed to understand it. Although Singularity is just a predicted event and before it can be understood, the purpose of life should be understood. He says that “..being a Singularitarian is not a matter of faith but one of understanding..” (370). Ray Kurzweil is only one of the many scientists researching and creating theories about the Singularity being a reality within just a few decades. He states that his understanding of Singularity has been a lonely experience for him, because most people do not share his views.
Kurzweil states that although most people don’t share his views, even knowledgeable people have maintained themselves unaware of the Singularity. He states “Most ‘big thinkers’ are totally unaware of this big thought.” (Kurzweil, 370). This led to my choice of this topic because like most people I was extremely unaware of this “big thought.” Kurzweil makes a great point that even big thinkers or people that usually think outside of the box have probably never even considered Singularity or know what it is. Not being aware of artificial intelligence or keeping in mind the possibility of its existence in everyday life is a major issue in our society. As opposed to popular belief, most people are uninformed about robots, computers, and Artificial Intelligence in general.The biggest issue is that younger generations aren’t being taught that artificial intelligence is very real and continues to progress and grow along with technology and science. Childhood education hasn’t actually considered teaching about Singularity or even the remote possibility of robots and computers having advances so far, as to being able to make moral and conscious decisions. I believe in order for the future generations to keep an open mind and be aware of all the technological advances around us, they should be able to know what can happen next or what to expect especially when technology plays a major role in the development of children in the 21st century. Creating awareness about Singularity and artificial intelligence will benefit future generations and the parents as well, because creating open minds for the children will help them understand how technology and the world around them is changing.
Even when Artificial Intelligence comes about in our everyday lives would the idea of having these computers or robots making moral and conscious decisions change our perspective of life as we know it? James Barrat creates a discussion about artificial intelligence having human values and having great intentions, if possible. “..assuming AGI will be just like us is imputing human values into an intelligent machine that got its intelligence, and its values, in a very different manner than we did.” (Barrat, 153). But this also creates a question about how artificial intelligence would play a role in society. If artificial intelligence becomes part of everyday life would it create fear and paranoia? This is a concern that should be addressed for all generations to understand and to create stable knowledge about artificial intelligence and Singularity. Informing others about the Singularity and technological advances such as artificial intelligence would only benefit society because it would create a clear state of mind about technology. It would dismiss all paranoia and fear because understanding how artificial intelligence can play a role in our societies can only benefit us for the future.
Interview Plan/Outside Participations:
For the interview portion of my project, I decided to ask the interviewees general questions on what they knew about Artificial Intelligence. I asked how they feel about the subject becoming part of everyday life. In general, most of the interviewees thought of Artificial Intelligence as something very futuristic, and not an occurrence happening soon. I chose to interview five people both younger and older to get a variety of answers. After asking general questions, I was curious on how they thought we could change the views people have on Artificial Intelligence. The interviewees included an age range from 16-46 years of age. The first person interviewed was Emely, a 20-year old college student with a child education major. I chose to interview her because it sparked curiosity as to how she would feel about future generations being educated about Artificial Intelligence because she wants to become a teacher. The second person interviewed was Eddy, a 16-year old junior in highschool with an interest in computer science. I chose to interview him because earlier this year he decided to create his own computer for his own creative purposes. The third person I interviewed was Ariel, an 18-year old college student with a criminal justice major. I chose to interview him because he just recently graduated high school and I wanted to see his view on Artificial Intelligence or if it’s ever been on his mind. The fourth person interviewed was Sita, a 46-year old mother of two. I chose to interview her because she is familiar with using the internet and has been using a smartphone for a few years. I also wanted to know how she thinks technology is affecting the lives of her kids or how it will continue to affect them. The fifth person I chose to interview was Francisco, a 32-year old father of two. He is familiar with the latest technology, repairs computers in his spare time, and has a major interest in upcoming technology. I was curious about his view on Artificial Intelligence in everyday life, and how it can affect the lives of his family in the future. I proceeded to asking all the participants how educating future generations might change the way Artificial Intelligence is accepted among humans in the upcoming decades.
Barrat, James. "The Singularitarian." Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of
the Human Era. New York: St. Martin's, 2013. 148-60. Print.
Kurzweil, Ray. “Ich Bin Ein Singularitarian.” The Singularity Is Near: Where Humans
Transcend Biology. New York: Viking Penguin, 2005. 369-89. Print.