Artificial Intelligence and Humanity: Where does Alpha-Go situate us at?

Jaemin Jung Google Deep Mind

   “On March 9th 2016, Alpha-Go – an Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed by Google Deep Mind Corporation – defeated  Lee Se Dol, a South Korean International Go champion, causing massive outrage and confusion as well as a sudden rise in attention towards AI technology.

   Why the outrage and confusion? It is because for centuries, human beings have desperately attempted to prove superiority over animals in aspects of morality and intelligence to justify our cruelty and mistreatment towards them. We NEEDED TO KNOW that we were the best standing on Earth so that we could conquer and rule as we wished. Through the defeat of Lee, however, humans seem to have encountered a new challenger in this game.

   Why am I personally enraged? As prospects of AI exceeding humans in fields of utilizing what-has-been-traditionally-considered-as genuine human traits and capabilities such as not only (1) Collecting of mass amount of data and (2) Calculating probabilities, but also the (3) Carrying out given tasks most efficiently by proactively making decisions, I feel that it brings up a fundamental question to us as students: Why study for College? Why memorize your textbook? AI will beat you. Why solve a math problem? AI will beat you. Why take the College Entrance Exam? AI will beat you. Why study the Law or try to become a doctor? AI WILL BEAT YOU. What is the point?

   This is a meaningful question in that we are living in a society where human values are measured by the title of their College, the title of their job, and the amount of their income. In South Korea today, approximately nine point three hundred thousand students spend every day all-day-long studying because of the sole fact that they are promised to be awarded with a good life – if they study hard. HOWEVER, what Alpha-Go proved is that all of this is a lie. A Filthy Lie.

   Fascinating for me, however, is that this alarming situation may allow us to realize that – in fact – what is truly at risk by AI’s challenge is not “Humanity” itself per se, but the “Competitiveness of Humans in the Market System.” The capability to carry out a given task most efficiently or store information has nothing to do with my or your essence as a human being. As Mother Teresa has shown us, as humans, we could dedicate our lives to the betterment of others. As Lee Su Hyun jumped onto the subway tracks to save an old Japanese lady, as humans we could place ourselves at mortal danger for the life of another. As the thousands of unknown Volunteers who reached the shores of Haiti in 2015, Japan in 2011 and 2016, we humans can empathize with one another and share the pain by putting aside our selfish needs to lend out a hand to our neighbors.

   These are choices Alpha-Go will never be able to appreciate or attempt to mimic. We humans alone can make these decisions, not AI. This also reminds us of an important lesson we so easily forget: Students are NOT COMPUTERS. Students should not be raised as computers either. Students deserve respect and love for being who we are – as a Part of Humanity and its Own Future.”

  • Above is a speech delivered at Joongdong High School Oral Presentation Tournament by Jaemin Jung on the effect of AI on humanity, especially his immediate peers and the youth of South Korea. Duration is 5 minutes. Click here to see Video Clip of the delivery.

Joining in 2015, Jaemin Jung is a Junior Intern Editor at J&S Associates. The comment, writing, or column does not represent the official position of YULS or J&S Associates. All rights reserved.

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