What experts say and what citizens say about general artificial intelligence: A future tailored for man or machine

According to the optimistic estimates of experts, general artificial intelligence is at least a decade away, say the Montenegrin Association for Artificial Intelligence. The "Vijesti" questionnaire showed that there is fear among the public, but also hope that it could have positive effects on society

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General artificial intelligence (illustration), Photo: Shutterstock
General artificial intelligence (illustration), Photo: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Although artificial general intelligence (AGI) is likely to replace many jobs that involve routine and repetitive tasks, it will also create new opportunities and jobs in areas that require human creativity and strategic thinking. By relying on artificial intelligence (AI) to perform routine tasks, people will be able to focus on more complex and essential tasks that require human intervention.

Thus, the Montenegrin Association for Artificial Intelligence (MAIA) comments on the potential entry of AGI into everyday use and its impact on the economic system.

As MAIA said, according to experts, even optimistic ones, AGI is at least a decade away from social implementation.

"General artificial intelligence, which would have the ability to perform any intellectual task that a human being can perform, is currently still in the research and development phase. Current models of artificial intelligence, more precisely machine learning (like GPT-4), are narrowly specialized and focused on specific tasks, and in this respect they have exceeded the capabilities of an average human", they told "Vijesta" from this association.

"Vijesti" recently published a questionnaire whose goal was to get an impression of the awareness of the Montenegrin public about AGI, their feelings towards this technology, as well as the possibility of using it in the work they do today.

Public resistance is justified

Out of 252 completed questionnaires, when asked if you know what AGI is, 174 people answered "yes". 78 of them, as they stated, did not know what AGI was.

When asked whether the term AI evokes positive or negative feelings in you, the answers are mixed. A number of those who filled out the questionnaire believe that artificial intelligence is a useful tool in the hands of humans, that it can contribute to development in many fields, and that it can be seen as the next step in evolution.

On the other hand, potential misuse of technology, loss of control over it and human corruption are some of the fears that cause negative feelings among the people who filled out the questionnaire.

MAIA told "Vijesta" that fear and resistance to AGI are understandable and often justified, given the potential risks and uncertainties that this technology carries.

They cite loss of privacy, economic changes, security threats, ethical implications... as possible problems.

However, this association points out that it is important to note that everything depends on the purpose for which artificial intelligence is being developed.

"...Well, on the other hand, the benefits can be enormous. AI can lead to the improvement of the quality of life, the advancement of medical research, the solution of global problems, etc.", said MAIA.

They believe that skepticism towards this technology can be mitigated through responsible research, rigorous regulations and open public discussion:

"Transparency in the development of AI technologies and cooperation between government institutions, industry and the academic community are key factors in ensuring that AI is developed and used in a way that brings maximum benefits, with minimum risks."

A useful tool or something more?

“No, it's just a tool like a car. It has the purpose and function of facilitating the user". "I use new technologies as they are, to serve me in my work and life, and not to cultivate feelings towards them". “No. There is no emotional connection. I use the majority of technologies for educational purposes and to raise my own levels of various literacy: media, IT, linguistic, legal, economic, etc."

These are some of the answers to the question of whether you notice that you create emotional connections or attachments with new technologies from the "News" questionnaire.

Although most responses were negative, there were also examples of those who said they had already created a relationship, or saw the possibility that they might create one in the future:

"I notice and I have no problem with it. I enjoy new technologies and use them as important tools. Synergy”. "It's becoming a part of my everyday life, like drinking coffee...a habit without which you feel uncomfortable if you're deprived of it." “I notice. I become dependent on new technologies and distance myself from people”. “At this stage of technology development, it's just a tool. In the event that some kind of consciousness, personality develops, I believe that I could somehow connect".

American psychologist Mark Travers in an article for "Forbes" magazine states that as technology continues to develop, so do the dynamics of the relationship between humans and AI.

“In this era of change, AI is also reshaping social interactions and, seemingly, the way we love. With virtual assistants and chatbots able to simulate meaningful human interactions, AI has evolved far beyond mere functionality. It appears that humans are not only capable of forming deep emotional bonds with AI, but can even experience romantic love for it,” Travers writes.

Illustrationphoto: Shutterstock

He says there are two reasons, according to research, why humans might form emotional bonds with artificial intelligence. The first is the attraction of anthropomorphism, and the second is the so-called "triarchic theory of love".

Travers describes anthropomorphism as the tendency to attribute human-like traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities, and points out that this plays a significant role in how humans interact and relate to AI.

Speaking of the triarchic theory of love, Travers explains that a 2022 study on relationships between humans and artificial intelligence showed that based on that theory, which suggests that romantic love is a combination of intimacy, passion and commitment, it is possible to experience such love according to an artificial intelligence system .

“Individuals can overlook the artificial nature of technology and instead focus on its superior qualities. Their efficiency, non-judgmental nature and reliability can create trust and a sense of stability that is often seen as lacking in human relationships. So while AI may not erase the need for human connection, it's getting closer to replicating it," says Travers.

Economic impact dependent on intentions

The introduction of A(G)I will have a deep and complex impact on the economy, but the final outcome is subjective, and will depend on the intentions and the way it will be used, MAIA explains.

They say that the effects of artificial intelligence on employment are not unambiguous.

“This means that people will need more advanced skills to adapt to the new economic environment. Education (formal and informal) will play a key role in preparing the workforce for this transformation, offering courses and programs that will enable people to acquire higher-level skills such as programming, data analysis, management and creative thinking. "Investment in human capital and adaptation of educational systems to the new needs of the labor market will be necessary in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the negative effects of AGI on employment," they told "Vijesta".

When asked how you imagine your work today in case AGI happens, a large number of people who filled out the questionnaire expressed optimism, stating that AGI would significantly help them in doing routine things, as well as increasing efficiency in doing or running a business.

"As an electronics technician facing the task of finding an error on, say, an X-ray machine, I would be grateful to anyone who could help me with their analytical advice and concrete suggestions for finding an error in the machine. And only help when solving issues, for example the legalization of a construction object". "As the owner of a radio taxi company, I assume that drivers will not need to be hired, but it will be 100 percent automated." “I would use him as a reliever. I would not make it sophisticated to the extent that it can undertake complex tasks such as self-evaluation, self-upgrade and production of other bots, i.e. I would not develop AL but VI-virtual reality". "I would think less about how to do the job. For dilemmas and ignorance, I would first ask AGI, and maybe then people". “I think I will be even more efficient! Unimagined possibilities are offered", are some of the answers.

A number of people who answered the question pointed out that AGI cannot help in their work, and that, if it could help, it would not happen in the near future:

"Deprived of the human factor and element, without which such work cannot be successfully performed". "My job can hardly be done by AGI...". "AGI will hardly replace practical and physical jobs". "AGI cannot replace my current job in any way, not even 10 AGI, because the work is done exclusively with hands". “I'm not worried. My work is very complex, only a human can manage it". "Given that I work at a university, it's one of the jobs that will be least affected by Al technologies in terms of staff replacement. There will be the implementation of new knowledge in syllabi and the application of new technologies for didactic purposes. There will be no Al professors at the faculties, at least not in my lifetime".

Two people who answered the question said that they are currently unemployed and that they hope that the introduction of AGI will lead to new jobs.

Although experts' most optimistic forecasts put AGI at least a decade away, the MAIA says others believe it will take much longer due to the complexities and ethical issues that need to be resolved before AGI becomes a part of everyday life.

They estimate that with the release of the new program GPT-4o, it could be said that we are one step closer to AGI, but that it is actually "a multimodal system that can integrate and process information from several different types of data, such as text, images, sound, video and sensor data".

"It should be emphasized that the question of when general artificial intelligence will be developed depends on different (subjective) definitions of what it actually represents, whether a system must become 'conscious' to represent AGI, and what is the definition of 'consciousness' and 'intelligence' in that context", added MAIA.

Fear present, scenario distant

Many world experts have expressed concern that advanced AI technologies, if entrusted with "key tasks", could cause the "destruction of civilization", as the American billionaire and technocrat called it. Elon Musk.

Author of the book "Generative AI in Practice: 100+ Amazing Ways Generative Artificial Intelligence is Changing Business and Society" Bernard Mar in an article for "Forbes" magazine, he says that the future in which machines could take control of humanity is a figment of imagination.

"A closer look at the current state of AI technology reveals that these fears, while popular in science fiction, are far from realized in the real world," says Mar.

He points out that most artificial intelligence systems that we encounter every day are examples of "narrow artificial intelligence".

These systems, Mar explains, are masters of specialization, adept at tasks like recommending your next Netflix movie, optimizing a route to avoid traffic jams, or even more complex tasks like writing essays or generating images.

"Despite these capabilities, they operate under strict constraints, designed to excel in a particular arena but unable to transcend those boundaries," he adds.

He further states that by proactively adapting regulations, potential risks and unintended consequences can be effectively anticipated and mitigated, ensuring the role of artificial intelligence as a powerful tool for positive progress, not a threat.

“This continued focus on the safe and ethical development of artificial intelligence is critical to harnessing its potential while avoiding the pitfalls depicted in dystopian narratives. AI is there to help and increase human capabilities, not to replace them," said Mar.

He believes that the concept of general artificial intelligence remains a distant goal, as well as that the future of humanity is "firmly in the hands of man":

"Today's most sophisticated AI systems struggle with tasks that a human child performs intuitively - recognizing objects in a messy room or understanding the subtleties of a conversation."

That the fear of a scenario in which a man no longer holds things in his hands is very present, is also confirmed by the answers of the people who filled out the questionnaire.

"If this trend continues, they will". "If this rate continues in 100 years or sooner, humanity will be gone, except perhaps in natural wilderness communities." "Yes, but I hope that a person will anticipate these possibilities and make control and reporting on the activities carried out by AGI". "Yes, everything is definitely going towards that. TERMINATOR!”. "Yes, I don't know how - quietly, I suppose, and definitely through the generations". "Yes, a complete takeover and seizure of control," read some of the answers.

However, there are those who share Mar's opinion:

"Absolutely not, because the centers of development of these technologies will carefully deal with limiting the possibilities of these technologies. It is not in the interest of any intelligent being to eliminate itself. It's a panic typical of SC movies, where robots 'develop consciousness overnight'”.

If there is a will and a vision in Montenegro...

The key factors for the development of AGI are human resources, education and access to data through the cooperation of institutions. If there is will and vision on the part of the Government and the private sector, it is possible to create a favorable environment for the development of AI technologies.

Thus, MAIA answers the question of whether there is potential for developing artificial intelligence technologies in Montenegro, stating that their association gathers engineers and scientists who deal with the development of AI models in various domains, such as medicine, finance, biology, geography in the country, but also to leading companies around the world.

"This shows that Montenegro really has quality people, experts and young talents who are ready to transfer their expertise to improve the system - both educational and state", they explain.

They add that creating a favorable environment for the development of AI technologies includes investing in STEM education (an interdisciplinary approach to science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through the improvement and updating of educational programs that, they say, are outdated, support for innovation and start-up companies, as well as connecting with international research centers and technology companies.

"Finally, we cannot talk about the application of AI in Montenegro if we do not first digitize and integrate the complete system. Data is the key and prerequisite for the application of AI solutions. This is a question that we need to start solving immediately, in order to obtain the conditions for the development of these systems in a few years. Through strategic investments and cooperation, Montenegro can become part of the global AI ecosystem and use this opportunity for technological and economic progress".

Total ban or giant progress?

That the human race is capable of adapting to new technologies, it has proven many times throughout history. The example of the industrial revolution, in the middle and end of the 19th century, is an excellent indicator of how new technologies were used for the betterment of life, despite the initial fear and resistance of the population.

The opinions of the people who filled out the questionnaire vary - from those that a complete ban of AGI is needed, strict regulation, to that its use is a "giant advance".

"Society, its mainstream, of course is not in favor of changes from the comfort zone. After the last pandemic, society showed a number of weaknesses, but also the ability to adapt to new technologies at a fast pace. Work processes have already been robotized in many industries. People always have a choice, the possibility of retraining, of working in jobs that robots will probably never be able to master. Welcome AGI, but let's beware of EVIL. Giant steps in all areas and a very certain solution of free and accessible energy for everyone". "The industrial revolution brought positive developments. I don't think so AGI". "Historically, people rebelled against everything new, as well as against Al, and they were not right, I don't think they are right either now." "Simply civil disobedience is the only option. I mean on a global level because Montenegro is irrelevant in this story." "Anyway, AI is the inevitability of the future." "The Stone Age did not end because the stone disappeared, but because of new inventions. Man was created to learn and work using his brain, so he made new inventions to make it easier for himself, to be 'in charge' and make some profit. To create something that will take over or control everything that man has created so far is like going back to the stone age where everything that has been created so far will be worthless if it is not controlled by man. Maybe it's better that way. Reset and fight again", are some of the answers...

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