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Top 3 most popular excuses to ignore the progress in AI

I have only recently started following some of the most established and knowledgable personalities in Artificial Intelligence, specialising in different aspects of it. I expected my feed to be full of various takes on various subjects surrounding the smart machines. To my surprise…it was completely swamped in the most positive sense of this word.

The technology is touching every single sector you can possibly think of and challenging every established school of thought. Huge change is taking place. I have zero doubt. That being said, as human beings, we are extremely good at giving ourselves excuses not to dive into the unexplored fields.

Here are the 3 excuses not to care about AI that I have encountered and certainly am guilty of myself.

1) ‘Ahhh, I am way too old for this. I probably should leave all this AI stuff for the youngsters’

Okay this one makes me really pissed off. Unless you are 107 years old, this is a horrible excuse that does not make any sense to me (107 is used as a symbolic number, all the 107 year olds reading this please forgive me). Let’s untangle this. So you are saying that you are too old to participate in one of the biggest evolutionary and societal shifts in the history of our species? With the rapid progress in medicine (largely contributed to advancement in AI, surprise-surprise), add 15 years to whatever you are ‘predicting’ for yourself!

If you are sceptical about this - so be it. At least look at how much has changed in the field in the last 5 years - all these ridiculous machine wins over humans at Go, Jeopardy and others. The machines are not slowing down and it will become more and more shocking how advanced they can get. If all of this is not enough to get you to read some Bostrom, think about the person with whom you want to connect more, whoever he or she is to you. If the individual is a ‘youngster’ - understanding tech and AI is the ‘way in’ for some fruitful conversations and will definitely make you seem way cooler!

2) ‘This is all moving too fast, I can’t keep up - I will just, let the really smart people figure it out…'

Let me tell you a secret - no one has any idea of what is going on. No clue. Admitting that you don’t know is one of the major virtues of the most intellectually advanced individuals. Of course, there are experts in certain subject matters and just straight on geniuses that are drawn to studying Artificial Intelligence. That being said, the subject is so incredibly multifaceted and tricky, that no one is sure what to do about the ‘rise of the machines’.

My advice is to think about what is close to your heart and what matters to you and look into what AI can cause in that space. I guarantee you there will be issues that you will be motivated and keen to ‘unpack’ and address. For example, I am interested in intellectual property and I first discovered AI as a game-changer in copyright law and wrote my dissertation on that topic. The interest then grew and branched out into what AI does in other sectors. Trust me when I say you don’t have to be gifted or even ‘smart’ to go out and get yours in the interlink of AI and whatever matters to you.

3) ‘I am not really a 'techy' type, I love humans so I will stick to them, instead of the machines’

Now this was (and sometimes is) me. I love human beings. We rose from the awkward, physically disadvantaged in so many ways, weird looking creatures to absolutely dominate this planet. Although we go to war and burn some ozone layers every now and then, the fact that we have built such an amazing world around us and haven’t yet blown up the whole planet is truly remarkable. Well done, fellow humans (patting myself on the back).

I enjoy human interactions and am have never been particularly excited about computers, programming or engineering. I am educated in law and economics and am very much a ‘humanities’ type of guy. However, I appreciate (and so should you) that the world is not going backwards. Human interaction is not dead by any means but the way we perceive the world and those around us is shifting.

Learning about AI doesn’t mean that you should learn how to write algorithms for deep learning. Educating yourself on the power of modern technology is, in fact, integral for you to keep those human connections you so much praise. We are all on a mission to keep all those beautiful and sometimes romantic things that, forgive me for the cliche, make us human. Ignoring technology is a strategy that just makes you worse of. I advice myself and the reader to pick a different one.

I sincerely hope that no human or machine was offended by this article!