By Randall McGee
Monday, February 10th 2019, President Trump signed the American AI Initiative, which prioritizes federal funding to the research and development of artificial intelligence. This came shortly after the State of the Union Address in which Trump said the future of the nation was in the new forms of advanced technology being created.
This announcement was good news to many tech companies who have their hands in artificial intelligence technology, as they can now get grants and extra help from the federal government in their research. This new initiative has good potential to greatly speed up the research of artificial intelligence for use in the workplace, or in defence of the country.
This signing of the new initiative came after China put great priority in artificial intelligence, mainly for the purpose of its capabilities in weaponry. Apparently, China has increased the funding for their AI research by tenfold, and the possibility that they may surpass America worries many U.S. officials.
This newest arms race could mean many things for the country. For one thing, it means the time of implementing AI in the workplace is very soon to come. Other possibilities are nearly endless. The main idea behind AI is to make a thinking computer, but other possibilities include uploading a person's consciousness into a computer to make them virtually immortal.
While many people like the idea of artificial intelligence helping out in the workplace, many others are worried about what it could mean for workers. Artificial intelligence could take up many jobs that would otherwise go to workers for them to provide to their families. People think that if artificial intelligence is introduced to the workforce, it will replace many workers as artificial intelligence costs much less and works much more diligently than an actual person. While this is a valid worry, many of the jobs that artificial intelligence would take up are jobs that people would not want to do in the first place. The jobs would be mindless ones, like small jobs in a factory or managing a small piece of a process. Although people complain about the jobs taken, many wouldn’t do the jobs filled by artificial intelligence in the first place.
The new priority on artificial intelligence could mean uploading a person onto a computer. While this has been attempted before, it has never been extremely successful. It is extraordinarily hard to link the human brain to data on a computer, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. This would create a plethora of issues in morals and questions about the human soul, many of which have no clear answer. Regardless, the idea of immortal life is just too enticing for scientists to pass up, so they'll continue trying. With the new prioritization in effect, that research will now be much better funded and move much quicker.
If researchers were to be successful in uploading the human consciousness, it would be a strange world for sure. Devices could be created to carry around the human consciousness, and then inserted into bodies to make basically insert their mind into the body. If you aren’t aware, this is from a TV show named Altered Carbon, where people’s minds are stored in small chips called “stacks”, and are put into bodies which they call “sleeves” to put their consciousness into the body.
Altered Carbon is set far into the future (clearly), and has a lot of cool futuristic tech. The main technology of the show, however, is the computer chips that contain human consciousness. Throughout the show, a man from some special forces solves the murder of a rich man whose consciousness is saved on a satellite every day, making him unkillable. Throughout the show, the producers go in depth about this futuristic world with new technology and immortal people.
Although this show seems far fetched, and the setting is set far into the future, this kind of technology might not be too far off. Sometime in the near future, people may be able to put their consciousness into a computer and live forever. Now whether some would call that living, or whether or not this is ethical, it could be a possibility with the new race for artificial intelligence. While many could have problems with this, and it might not happen for a long time, this may be the future of the human race. Humans in this age are getting closer and closer to technology and computers, and with this new age of computers, humans might evolve to be part of the computers or vise versa.