AI is changing the world. But is it for the good?

We live in a world filled with conflicts. Whether it is our conflict with nature, one religion’s with another, simply a conflict of inequities and opportunities that never seem to balance or the one that always exists between a world that is advancing rapidly and the one that is left behind, we are always trying, trying hard to find a way to live in harmony. 

The question amidst all our efforts that arises is that as we are advancing more and more in terms of every aspect of life, especially technology, are we taking the society with us in the direction to maintain that very harmony? 

Out of all the things that interest me about how fast we are advancing, AI does the job the best.

The topic, as almost all things in life, is a double-edged sword we have to deal with.

AI, with the ability to learn, reason, act and adapt instantly to the real world, some believe that it will drive the human race.

With this power, on one side people think that as jobs are lost because of AI, jobs will eventually be created as well, and on the other side, scientists warn us that we can easily lose the control of the super intelligent machines and it can do more harm to us than good.

As evidence for how AI can be good,  there are companies like Farmlogs, which “uses data and technology to help farmers monitor fields, track the weather and get insights into soil using historical satellite imagery to calculate irregular plant growth”(1) which changed the farming forever, people like Bryce Olson, who leads the project of precision medicine which is based on genomic sequencing of individual’s health history, lifestyle and cancer and government departments like National Center for Missing and Exploited Children looking at the use of AI for quick and effective operation is supervising the abuse reports.

That said, there still remains the fear of negative consequences, even if AI is proving to have a long-lasting social impact on the world in a right direction.

As put up by Elon Musk, AI poses “vastly more risk than North Korea” and that it is a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”

I am still on the crossroads when it comes to AI and the impact that it creates.

What about you?


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10 comments on “AI is changing the world. But is it for the good?”

  1. Interesting read. With regards to the social impacts of AI, I thought of something I was reading up on elsewhere while going through your post, a concept which certain organizations are trying out called universal basic income. As AI and automation takes over more mundane and repetitive jobs, humans working them gain the freedom to pursue their own interests and these could be potentially brilliant people who could make significant impacts in different spheres of life. On the flip side, the system could also be potentially abused so that people live off this basic income and not contribute to society as much as they were doing before so you’re right, AI kind of is like a double edged sword.


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  2. Thanks for writing this article about AI. It does seems like there are negative aspects from AI, but it seems to me that those are the same of any new technology. Meaning that people are mostly afraid of change. Which other negatives ones do you see?


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    1. Hey,
      I agree that almost every new technology will carry some risks and disadvantages.
      AI specifically, in my opinion, carries other risks as well.
      For example, however deep operations a machine can perform with the help of AI, it will not be able to make a judgment call if the situation is unique.
      One instance of when this happened was during a shooting drama in Sydney, Australia, in 2014 when the said incident made numerous people order an uber to get away.
      Uber, because of its algorithms and systems, charged the surge prices as it couldn’t take into consideration the circumstances.

      That said,
      With @dsklavos’s comment, I also second that indeed, it is our choice how we work with technology.

  3. Interesting post! As you said, AI is like a double edged sword. Or is it?

    As we’ve seen in the past with each and every one of the technological revolutions, people are always afraid of the change and how it will affect their job, life and quality of living. We can trace this trend all the way from spinning jennies and ICEs to computers and internet, to name a few. The adoption and implementation of AI based solutions aimed at specific vertical problems in today’s world is axiomatic; it will e.g. (1) automate simple tasks and release more time for people to do more productive work or (2) the machine-human interaction will enhance decisions made in companies and governments. Despite the skepticism and fear towards, these will certainly create value, boost productivity, create more jobs and enhance our quality of living.

    On the other hand, AI poses “a threat” to the general public that hasn’t been introduced by earlier technologies: the fear of “Artificial Super Intelligence”, which according to some scientific and not-so-scientific researchers will destroy the human race and our planet in the process. We are currently in a position in which our actions define the outcome of this scenario. However the decision to resist the adoption of current AI solutions in today’s world due to the possibility of a Super AI revolution would not be the wisest of decisions.

  4. Interesting posts and commentary! As a social scientist, I have often pondered this topic. I agree with bergstt1 – with the dawning of every technological event, a skeptical initial response is typical. Misunderstanding, ambiguity, and uncertainty breed fear and mistrust. Moreover, with the technological advances of our generation taking place at a greater rate than in the past, the likelihood for public anxiety about recent innovation and application will be higher. Whether or not AI is intrinsically ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is a great question – one that is dependent on myriad factors and will not be answerable anytime soon – particularly as we do not yet have enough data to assess the potential long term social costs. Right now, the best we can do is hypothesize on what the future holds and the unanticipated consequences of our choices. But as government regulation races to keep up with the pace of the Valley, there is certainly simultaneous need for us to better understand the human side of the AI wave. As such, long-range studies investigating how people’s lives are being impacted by these changes and the implications on equity and diversity are requisite.

  5. Your post did a great job at explaining Farmlogs agenda. I think AI has various pros and cons. Nonetheless, individuals focus on the positives and tend to neglect the negatives, to some extent.

    Firstly, I propose that definite unemployment will take place when AI takes over. This unemployment can either be shortlived, frictional unemployment – if individuals have a flexible skill set; however, it may be long-run unemployment if its structural in nature. Based on this form of unemployment, unemployment perks will increase, government aid from research and development might be withdrawn, and implementation of supply-side policies might incur high charges – in turn taking away from technological growth. This way AI may hamper its own growth and in addition cause an increase in unemployment in society, even before it creates employment.

    Secondly, at times AI does not deliver the results it is expected to – causing a waste of time, capital, and effort. A familiar example of this would be IBM’s Watson. The machine known to process data and provide for the study of tumors was unable to do so. IBM’s Watson was supposed to give time back to humans by providing reports, ways of treatment etc. However, Watson required people to keep punching information into the system rather than the system analyzing the available information to help patients.
    In case you haven’t read the article, here it is [1].

    Therefore, AI has positives but can be termed a boon in the making.


    [1] –


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    1. Hi Tanu,
      I absolutely agree with your explanation of how resource sharing between the unemployed and Technology R&D can be a problem and hence how “AI may hamper its own growth”.
      I also believe that structural employment is the most likely in this scenario.
      That said, I also believe that it might not be as long-lived as suggested.
      In addition to some countries have already started initiatives that will help bridge the gap between the skillset a tech revolution will bring and the advancement by it, there is also the factor of legal and socio-political factors to keep in mind.

      According to a recent study, by 2016, only one out of 270 professions listed has been eliminated because of automation, that of an elevator operator.(1)

  6. Very interesting posts and ideas. Humans have always been afraid of changes. Although technological progress is the most important factor for economic progress in today’s world , in every important technological and industrial revolution there were people that were left behind and become jobless. That is a kind of a paradox but it seems like in any big and sudden change all the fields do not grow and expand equally. Some become obsolete and cannot keep up with these changes.

    The idea that a very big portion of population will become jobless simply because AI will take over the world, is not sufficient alone. Today we are at the highest point of human’s technological progress, a lot of jobs have stop existing in the last 100 years and replaced by machines and still we have secured the best living conditions and the smallest number of war conflicts that ever existed in this planet.

    I agree with the idea that AI will change once forever the social interactions between humans but once again this has happened a lot on the past as well. Every idea and value is constructed within the society so if AI will lead and surpass humans, if robots will be able to vote and be independent or if they will just satisfy our needs without any negative consequence societies will adapt and this will become the next step for the humanity.

    So, let’s suppose that we have the choice. We could decide today if are going for further technological and as a result economic progress or we are going to stop this exponential grow and we will rethink where are we heading. What would will do? I firmly believe that we would go for it !


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  7. In reading the title of this post and everyone’s comments, it seems clear to me that there is some ambiguity with regards to the meaning of AI. This must be made clear because the term itself, along with other terms that have been discussed in class like the cloud, Big Data, ML, etc…, are buzzwords–they are thrown around too often without giving much critical thought as to their meanings and exactly what they reference. What IS AI and what does it reference must be discussed, first, I believe in order to have any kind of productive conversation about whether AI is changing the world for the better or worse. I believe it’s also necessary to define what we perceive a better and/or worse world to be, or else we may be discussing semantically unequal ideas that will only bypass each other without meaningful communication. In my opinion, this post and people’s responses may have come too prematurely given our class itself hasn’t covered the AI week yet.

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for pointing out some important parts!

      I agree with your viewpoint that when we are bringing up the topic of AI, it should be worked out what we actually mean by it to ensure a meaningful conversation and I should have definitely delved deeper into it with this post!

      That said, when I ask that if AI is changing the world for ‘good’ or not, it simply pointed towards a world which is more in harmony with nature and its people and that it takes the people/economies etc. who are not that advanced with it in the right direction towards mutual growth.(i.e. growth of economies should be all rounded.)


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