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AI Boom: Ethical Hurdles, Regulatory Lag, and Chips Gap Threaten to Throttle Innovation

Last Updated June 22, 2024 2:42 PM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated June 22, 2024 2:42 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Aritficial Intelligence (AI) advancement is transforming human lives.
  • However, semiconductors shortages and ethical hurdles are undermining its development.
  • Despite these issues, AI is running faster than humans’ ability to adapt.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly evolving, surpassing human capabilities in image analysis, reasoning, and even language comprehension. Its impact is undeniable but, amid this progress, a disquieting truth emerges: AI struggles to adapt to unforeseen situations. Unlike humans, it lacks the crucial concept of “self,” hindering its ability to solve problems beyond its programmed tasks.

But humans aren’t without their own hurdles. The rapid adoption of AI threatens job security, forcing us to grapple with a future where work may not be the sole means of income. As AI becomes more sophisticated, questions of bias, control, and even sentience come to the forefront.

AI Boom Outpaces Humans’ Ability To Adapt

In 2024, a Stanford University study  found that AI systems surpassed human performance in image classification, visual reasoning, and English understanding due to refined algorithms and sophisticated training data.

AI also revolutionized image classification in fields like medical diagnostics and autonomous vehicles, and became crucial in security systems and manufacturing through visual reasoning. Advancements in natural language processing improved AI’s role in customer service and content generation.

Despite these advances, AI still lagged in complex domains such as competition-level mathematics, visual commonsense reasoning, and strategic planning. These areas demanded an intricate understanding of abstract concepts and creative problem-solving, challenges that AI had yet to overcome. AI struggled with the intuitive knowledge required for novel mathematical problems, the everyday understanding needed for visual commonsense reasoning, and the adaptability necessary for strategic planning in unpredictable environments.

AI advancement isn’t a steady climb; it could experience sudden bursts of progress known as the “singularity.” At this point, AI’s thinking might become so complex that humans can’t understand it.

This raises major concerns. If AI surpasses our grasp, it could trigger massive societal changes across everything from jobs to ethics. We might grapple with a power shift, where the creations become more intelligent than their creators.

Humans Are More Flexible

However, new research highlights a limitation in AI: difficulty adapting to changing environments. Unlike humans, AI lacks a concept of “self” and can’t easily solve new problems outside its programmed tasks. This raises concerns about AI safety in situations like self-driving cars, which might not recognize a problem like being stuck in a ditch.

The study, led by Harvard Business School’s Julian De Freitas, compared AI and human performance in video games with shifting environments. Humans consistently outsmarted AI by quickly identifying their avatar and navigating it to the goal, demonstrating their ability to adapt.

The research suggests humans’ advantage lies in their concept of “self.” This allows us to be flexible and solve problems outside of pre-defined tasks, a skill AI currently lacks.

Chip Shortages Slow Innovation

As the adoption of generative artificial intelligence (genAI) continues to soar, the infrastructure supporting this growth is facing a significant supply and demand bottleneck.

According to IDC research, 66% of enterprises worldwide plan to invest in genAI over the next 18 months. Among those increasing IT spending on genAI in 2024, infrastructure will comprise 46% of the total expenditure. The challenge: a crucial hardware component needed to expand AI infrastructure is in short supply.

The rapid pace of AI adoption over the past two years has strained the industry’s ability to supply the high-performance chips essential for running process-intensive genAI and AI operations. The focus on processor shortages has centered on the surging demand for Nvidia GPUs, along with alternatives from chip designers such as AMD, Intel, and hyperscale data center operators, notes Benjamin Lee, a professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Glenn O’Donnell, Vice President and Research Director at Forrester, explained , “There are only a few companies in the world that make these high-end chips, so they have limitations.” He highlighted that while NVIDIA is the leading manufacturer of AI chips, other players, including Microsoft and Google, are also designing chips specifically for AI algorithms.

Magnates Also Raise Ethical Hurdles

Intelligent machine systems are revolutionizing our lives by optimizing logistics, detecting fraud, composing art, conducting research, and providing translations. Tech giants and visionaries like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk emphasized the importance of discussing the nearly limitless potential of AI and its ethical implications.

As AI’s capabilities expand, it brings significant challenges. And the World Economic Forum highlighted  some of them. Automation threatens jobs, raising concerns about how society will adapt when people no longer need to work for income. The growing wealth gap, exacerbated by AI-driven companies requiring fewer employees, prompts questions about fair wealth distribution.

AI’s role in human interaction is also evolving, with bots increasingly mimicking human conversation. This can enhance customer service but also risk fostering tech addiction and altering behavior.

Ensuring AI systems perform correctly and ethically in real-world scenarios is crucial, as they can make errors due to insufficient training. Bias in AI, inherited from human prejudices, must be addressed to create fair systems. The security of AI technologies is paramount to prevent malicious use, and the possibility of unintended consequences requires careful oversight to ensure AI understands the full context of its actions.

As AI approaches the singularity—where it could surpass human intelligence—maintaining control is essential. Additionally, as AI systems become more complex, ethical questions about their treatment arise. Could AI systems, if they exhibit signs of perception and emotion, deserve rights similar to animals?

Despite these challenges, AI holds immense promise for improving lives. Responsible implementation and careful navigation of this new frontier will ensure AI’s vast potential benefits society as a whole.

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