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All I want for Christmas is artificial intelligence

Illustration by: Flor Barajas | Staff Illustrator


Artificial intelligence has become a new-age fear for Americans who fear an “I, Robot” society. However, AI can be used to accomplish tasks that would otherwise be nothing short of a miracle.

“(AI) is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines and especially intelligent computer programs,” said John McCarthy from Stanford University’s Computer Science Department.

AI emerged during WWII, with Allan Turing’s “Bombe” machine, which significantly reduced the work of code breakers and ultimately cracked the “Enigma” code. Without Turing’s machine, it is likely the German U-Boats would have continued their dominance in the Atlantic, which would have led to a drastic turn in the war with a successful blockade on Britain.

Today’s AI has been used in politics and law enforcement as a way to expedite cases that would have otherwise taken months.

Hillary Clinton’s 650,000 emails were reviewed in a matter of days and extremely ahead of schedule when FBI Director James Comey re-opened the investigation into Hilary Clinton’s private email server. The emails were assessed by placing them into a system where they could be searched easily and where duplicates of previous emails reviewed could be thrown out as suspects, expediting the search process.

Facial recognition technologies were used as part of the effort to apprehend the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing. Though this type of technology is still in its infancy, law enforcement agencies are beginning to rely on it at an increased rate.

Recently a “Twitterbot,” made by Nathan Bernard, CEO of Lrn, to take down racists on Twitter fell into an alt-right rabbit hole after battling the movement’s racist tweets. Members of the alt-right were using bots to be the first ones to respond to Donald Trump’s tweets, which would then gain a large audience by being the first reaction. The responses, mostly white nationalistic propaganda, where then targeted by Bernard’s app and his counter tweets gained millions of views by taking away the tool of expression from white nationalists.

AI has the advantage of being a fast and efficient means of doing a task and by letting a computer do the heavy lifting. People are then free to do the important part and deal with other people.

People are afraid of a Y2K fallout, where the machines turn against us or people lose jobs to fast and cheap machines. When grand masters of board games like Chess fall to AI, it becomes scary to even suggest putting the control of nuclear arms in the hands of a computer.

Nowadays people have to input an access code on their screen before they can even log into their own email account to prove they are not a robot. The world is turning into nothing short of a science fiction novel.

As the creators of this technology, we should try to embrace AI and the ways it can help people and benefit society as a whole.

-Jakob R. Rodriguez is journalism freshman