There’s Good, Bad and Ugly in The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Go to content

There’s Good, Bad and Ugly in The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Asian Heritage Society
Published by Leonard Novarro and Rosalynn Carmen in Ai San Diego · Tuesday 26 Mar 2024
Tags: AiSanDiego
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a weekly series of articles about artificial intelligence in San Diego.

This is about three things — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Or…artificial intelligence.

The Industrial Revolution created a society driven by machines, while the AI revolution has ushered in a society in which machines are driven by algorithms. In both cases, the result is displacement of jobs and entire industries. For our generation, this began with the coronavirus.
The pandemic was good for both the future of artificial intelligence and the future of San Diego. AI took its biggest leap forward as techies made the most use of it, working in isolation or in tandem. San Diego, as a city, has leveraged the pandemic to enhance its artificial intelligence capabilities and expand its influence in the field through various initiatives and collaborations.

As a result, artificial intelligence is making deep inroads in the San Diego economy. More than a half-dozen surveys in the last two years indicate that rather than losing jobs, AI is growing them. More than three in five AI developers plan to add additional workers in the next year as demand for these technologies grows. Because these jobs tend to be very lucrative, they will have a strong ripple effect on the broader economy.

One in four, or roughly 25,000 to 30,000, San Diego County firms are using AI on some level, while 95% of these companies have already developed or adopted some combination of AI or ML, machine learning, a subset of AI that specifically develops algorithms enabling computers to perform tasks without specific programming.

The remaining 5% of companies are already planning to adopt some form of AI. The ripple effect will likely boost a plethora of related industries, as well as improve productivity, increase revenues and reduce costs in creating new products.,

That’s the good part.

Now the bad part.

Automation is expected to replace 800 million, or one in five, jobs globally by the year 2030.  Job displacement, particularly for those who rely on routine tasks that can be easily automated, is a foremost concern.

Privacy is another. Already we can see a plethora of surveillance devices springing up everywhere.  AI is only as good as the data pool in which it operates. And if that pool is filled with nonsense, negative opinions, or racial bias, the result could be disparate results in hiring, financial lending, arrests, and host of conspiracy theories. Haven’t we already seen that?

Economic disparity is another foregone conclusion. A typical entry job right now is bringing in $120,000 a year — but not without very expensive education or training. How accessible will that be for a youngster growing up and educated in communities like Chollas View or City Heights, particularly from new immigrant communities? Already, there is disparity: More than 60% of jobs in the field are held by white males, less than 25% by males of Asian descent and even less by women and other minorities.

Then there is the whole ethics issue. How much decision making are you willing to give up to a machine, especially one not trained in solving ethical dilemmas?  If you have any doubts, try to get through customer service in most companies to resolve a problem and see fast you will reach an actual human being. Or not.

Jobs involving manual or repetitive labor, routine white-collar jobs, customer service and delivery — all will likely be obliterated. On the plus side, this could put an end to those annoying telemarketing calls.

Finally, there’s the ugly.

AI algorithms often require significant computational power, which translates to higher energy consumption. The manufacturing, operation, and cooling of data centers where AI computations are performed, already contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

Those chips that run everything?  As they become smaller and more densely packed with transistors, they give off more and more heat, requiring a cooling system that consumes extra energy.

The manufacturing process of computer chips involves the use of rare earth metals and other resources that are often sourced through environmentally damaging methods. Moreover, as AI technology advances, older chips become obsolete more quickly, leading to increased electronic or E-waste. More and more of these chips needed in greater number means more and more extraction from the ground, resulting in habitat destruction, water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Impact on the environment can be — and most likely will be — devastating.
Taking the human out of the equation, as AI makes more and more decisions for us, could have catastrophic results, in the opinion of many. The political scene has already shown us how pure fakery can influence a large part of the U.S. population into accepting abnormal behavior as normal.

Lastly, increasing social isolation is inevitable as AI-driven tools take over many everyday functions, thereby reducing face to face human connection and weakening interpersonal relationships.

Some would say we are already there.

Leonard Novarro is vice president of the Asian Heritage Society and author of WORDSLINGER: The Life and Times of a Newspaper Junkie.. Rosalynn Carmen is president of the society and an AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty and AWS Certified Dev Ops Engineer Professional. © 2024 Copyrighted all rights reserved
Back to content