Abstract

Since the introduction of modern Computers, computer technology comes a long way. With a fantastic increase in the capabilities of the computers each year, it has now become possible for researchers as well a common man to think if computer technology will become so advance in the future to enable computers to think independently. And if that becomes possible, would the Computer take over society.

This paper makes an attempt to answer this question by researching how much has the Computer penetrated into the life of a common man, as well as the readiness and possibility of technology, which would facilitate a take over by computers. It presents a survey of literature to gain an opinion of experts as well as results of a survey questionnaire to come to a conclusion for this research.

Introduction

The advent of Information Technology has made a tremendous impact on individuals as well as businesses and industries. The advancement of computers has not only changed the way technology has been perceived in the past, but it has also played a vital role in the advancement of technology itself.

Today, many of the activities are that were performed manually in the past have been taken over by computers, which not only offer efficiency and speed but also are cost-effective, reliable, and flexible. The current use of computers is not limited to tasks requiring labor, such as its use in the manufacturing industry, but it is also used to assist in business decisions in various organizations around the world.

Artificial Intelligence has also seen a rise in its use in the industry. The speed and intelligence of computers have given rise to a discussion of whether computers will become so advanced that they will be able to take over the human race. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate if this threat is real. The paper attempts to answer this question through conducting research of sections of the general public as well as experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Research Methodology

The research conducted for this paper was conducted through primary and secondary research sources. The primary research consisted of conducting a survey in which a questionnaire based on the Likert Scale was given out to people belonging to various walks of life, and the obtained results were further evaluated.

In secondary research, the opinion of a number of experts in the field was obtained. This was done by conducting a survey of the literature available on the subject and concise representation of their opinions in this paper.

Primary Research

Analysis of the Survey Questionnaire

For this research, a survey questionnaire was used as a primary source of information, and a questionnaire was prepared to collect the information from 3 groups of 20 individuals each. These groups represented students, housewives, and business-oriented personnel who were given the questionnaire and 24 hours to fill it.

The questions in the survey questionnaire were divided into three sections, with each reflecting a different aspect of the thesis question. The questionnaire reflected on the current role of computers in society, the effect of their usage on human beings and the possibility of a takeover by computers.

Each of these sections contained five questions that highlighted each aspect from a different perspective. The questionnaire also contained three descriptive questions which provided an opportunity to participants of the survey to detail their thoughts about the research question.

Regarding the role of computers in our society a generally positive trend was seen in the survey which highlighted the acceptance of computers within the life of the participants with a vast majority of individuals agreeing with the notion that they rely more on computers today than they have in the past and that the computer technology has seen a rapid development in the recent years.

The majority of the people questioned in this survey also believed that computers were becoming more and smarter as they gradually took over most of the tasks performed by humans and that the decisions made by the computers were more rational than those made by human beings. These trends showed that the participants of the survey were well aware of the benefits that the use of computers offered to them.

With regards to the effects of computers on human beings, there was an overall agreement between the participants that computers today are capable of taking over human jobs wholly because they can perform tasks faster than humans and that there is a real possibility in the future that humans would work under the supervision of computers.

However, most of the participants did not believe that computers would become capable enough to learn from their experiences as much as humans do and that computers would be able to replace humans in every field of work.

Answering the question related to the possibility of a takeover by computers, almost all participants were of the opinion that computers would never have the ability to surpass the capabilities of a human brain. They also agreed that it would be very difficult to emulate emotions through artificial intelligence. Thus the computers would fail to take that decision in which humans are usually guided by emotions.

A strong agreement was also found among the participants that in the future, computers will be able to operate without supervision and that new technologies would enable the artificial intelligence to learn more effectively, and it would be able to exist in a self-sustaining manner. However, a large majority of the participants negated the idea that future technologies would be built in such a way that would endanger the authority of humans over computers.

In response to the descriptive questions, if computers and Humans were on a collision course, almost all of the participants agreed that there wouldn’t be a collision at all. The reasons given for this highlighted the fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other computer technologies are themselves a human creation.

Thus humans would know of their vulnerabilities. Furthermore, at many places where AI or computers are used, their intelligence and learning mechanism is limited to only a particular domain.

Furthermore, the use of AI has not been widespread till now, which eliminates the possibility of a clash between computers for a long time, and by the time it would be employed in general use, there would be other technologies as well to keep a check on such uses (Jackson, 1985).

Explaining their understanding about the general trend of automation in businesses and industries, all of the participants had the understanding that all use of computers in businesses and industries was supervised and that human presence was necessary even when business and industrial processes were automated.

Specifying the recommendations to avoid the possibility a computer takes over, most people agreed that safety measures should in place to regulate the development of computers and artificial intelligence. They also highlighted the need for legislation for this purpose and enforcement of a process that should be used to keep a check of the possible development of rogue artificial intelligence (Trochim, 2006).

A small number of participants were also aware of various technologies that could be used in case computers take over. Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) was one of such ideas mentioned in the answers of the questionnaire, which is one of the major threats to computers (Kopp, 2009).

Secondary Research

Survey of Literature

In answering the question of a possible take over by computers in the future, a survey of literature highlights a number of opinions, in which though the is no question about computers being able to perform faster than a human brain in the future, but question the correctness of the thesis on which the idea of computational thinking and takeover is based.

Though there are some, like Dr. Kurzweil, who have no doubt that the computers will be able to think equally or faster, people like Dr. Searle has pointed out the fact that while the computers may evolve beyond the average processing power of a human brain, there are other factors involved such complexity and completeness of the Artificial Intelligence algorithms which makes the possibility of computers that can think very remote (Quain, 2000).

The basic criterion to test a computer for its thinking ability is the Turing test. The minimum processing power required by a computer to pass this test is estimated to be 20 million billion calculations per second or 100 million instructions per second, according to Moravec (Moravec, 1998).

This comparative speed of the brain is significantly higher than the fastest Computer of the world today, which is made up of hundreds of thousands of processors and highlights the huge difference in performance that the Computer must cover in order to become equivalent.

However, an important fact that has been highlighted in the literature is that only computer processing estimate is insufficient to claim that Computer will then be equally intelligent as a human brain. Equally fast and efficient algorithms and programs will also have to be developed to simulate the behavior to thinking process of the human brain, which may or may not happen (Quain, 2000).

On the other hand, Whitworth, in his paper, comparing the processing capabilities of a computer and Human, has also stated that the human brain and Computer are based on two different architectures. Hence it is totally wrong to predict the equivalent processing power of computers that would equal the human brain based on a simple performance comparison (Whitworth, 2008).

Gershenson, in his article as well has refused to accept the possibility of taking over by showing the fact that the relationship between computers and humans is symbiotic, and none would benefit from the conflict.

Conclusion

In this research, we explored the answer to the possibility of a take over by Computer of the human race. We primarily used a survey of housewives, students, and IT-oriented business professional while a survey of the literature was also carried out for benchmarking the opinion of experts actually involved in developing technologies which could facilitate such a possibility.

Our primary research indicates a general positive believe that a computer take over may be possible, due to that fact that computer technology has followed the Moore’s law in its development and has also seen wide acceptance in every walk of life.

This indicates that if computers ever want to take over, it would be very easy for them. However, the question remains if the Computer will become intelligent enough to think about a takeover. This question has been negatively answered in most of the literature found on the topic. The most important reason that founds the basis of this answer is the fact the mere computer speed may not be enough to make Computer think.

Complex technology will also have to be developed in order to correctly simulate the human brain, which may or may not be possible in the future. Furthermore, it has also been said that it is wrong to compare human intelligence with artificial intelligence since both are based on a totally different architecture, in which the human brain excels.

Even if the computers are made intelligent, they would realize that the relationship between them is symbiotic, and no one would gain anything from a takeover (Gerhenson, 2003). Therefore, the result of this research is that Computers may be able to work faster than a human brain, they will never become as intelligent as a human brain, and thus there is no possibility of a takeover.

Appendix I

Survey Questionnaire Responses

Name of the Respondent (If You want to Remain Anonymous, Please Leave Blank)

Job Title

Survey Questions Strongly Disagree Disagree No Opinion Agree Strongly Agree Responses Average
Overall view on computers eventually being able to think faster than the human brain and take over? 1 2 3 4 5
190 151 148 208 203
21% 17% 16% 23% 23% 3.09
Strongly Disagree Disagree No Opinion Agree Strongly Agree Responses Average
Role Of Computers
You feel you rely more on computer now then you did in the past 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 12 13 7 10 18
20% 22% 12% 17% 30% 3.15
Most of the work in your job is done by computer. 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 10 12 1 20 17
17% 20% 2% 33% 28% 3.37
You believe that decisions made by intelligent computers are very rationale. 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 15 7 2 20 16
25% 12% 3% 33% 27% 3.25
You believe that artificial intelligence will be able to emulate emotions 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 23 12 10 10 5
38% 20% 17% 17% 8% 2.37
You believe that the use of computer has increased tremendously in a short time. 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 1 3 0 15 41
2% 5% 0% 25% 68% 4.53
Effects of Computers on Human Beings
You believe that computer can wholly takeover your job. 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 5 16 12 15 12
8% 27% 20% 25% 20% 3.22
You believe that future computers will be able to learn as much from their experiences as humans 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 19 15 0 12 14
32% 25% 0% 20% 23% 2.78
You believe that computer can do all tasks faster than humans 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 6 5 18 14 17
10% 8% 30% 23% 28% 3.52
You believe that working under the supervision of a computer is a real possibility. 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 9 10 2 21 18
15% 17% 3% 35% 30% 3.48
You believe that computers will gradually replace humans in every field 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 10 12 23 10 5
17% 20% 38% 17% 8% 2.80
Possibilities of Taking Over
You believe that computers will be capable of beating the human brain. 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 25 15 10 8 2
42% 25% 17% 13% 3% 2.12
You believe that artificial intelligence will be able to emulate emotions 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 30 10 1 10 9
50% 17% 2% 17% 15% 2.30
You believe that technology advancement will warrant the removal of safety barrier on critical computer technologies 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 11 15 19 9 6
18% 25% 32% 15% 10% 2.73
You believe that in future computers won’t require supervision 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 6 6 14 19 15
10% 10% 23% 32% 25% 3.52
You believe that future computer intelligence will be self sustaining and developing 1 2 3 4 5
Responses Received 8 0 29 15 8
13% 0% 48% 25% 13% 3.25

Appendix II

Survey Questionnaire

Survey Questionnaire
Name
Job Title
Survey Questions Strongly Disagree Disagree No Opinion Agree Strongly Disagree
1 2 3 4 5
Overall view on computers eventually being able to think faster than the human brain and take over?
Role Of Computers
You feel you rely more on computer now then you did in the past
Most of the work in your job is done by computer.
You believe that decisions made by intelligent computers are very rationale.
You believe that artificial intelligence will be able to emulate emotions
You believe that the use of computer has increased tremendously in a short time.
Effects of Computers on Human Beings
You believe that computer can wholly takeover your job.
You believe that future computers will be able to learn as much from their experiences as humans
You believe that computer can do all tasks faster than humans
You believe that working under the supervision of a computer is a real possibility.
You believe that computers will gradually replace humans in every field
Possibilities of Taking Over
You believe that computers will be capable of beating the human brain.
You believe that artificial intelligence will be able to emulate emotions
You believe that technology advancement will warrant the removal of safety barrier on critical computer technologies
You believe that in future computers won’t require supervision
You believe that future computer intelligence will be self sustaining and developing
Descriptive Questions
Are Computers and Humans on collision course? Please Explain.
What is your take on the current trend of automation within businesses and industries?
What recommendation would you make to avoid the possibility of a takeover by computers?

Reference List

Gerhenson, C. (2003). Why Computers will not take over the world. La Jornada,

This newspaper article discusses how the relationship between computers and humans is symbiotic one; hence, computer would not consider a take over.

Jackson, P. (1985). Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. Courier Dover Publications.

This book serves as a guide to introduction of various technologies that introduce the concept of intelligence in computer as well as the history of Artificial Intelligence.

Kopp, C. (2009). The Electromagnetic Bomb – a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction.

A detailed article on Electromagnetic Pulse and its war use.

Moravec, H. (1998). When will Computer hardware match the human brain?. Journal of Evolution and Technology, Volume 1.

A comprehensive article which compares the processing power of human brain and computer, exploring the possibility of a computer matching the speed of a human brain.

Quain, J. (200, March). Will the Computer be able to think on their own?, Popular Science, 54-55

This article interviews two experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence but with different point of views.

Trochim, W. (2006). Likert Scaling.

An Introduction to Likert Scaling.

Whitworth, B. (2008). Some Implications of comparing brain and computer processing. Proceedings of the 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

This article discusses the architectural differences on which a computer and a human brain are built to show that they are two completely different architectures which cannot be compared with each other.

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