Technology Opinion

Artificial intelligence is a double-edged sword

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Humans must guide AI developments in ways that will uplift us (image by Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan via

Artificial intelligence can have positive impacts for humanity if harnessed sensibly, writes Keith Presnell

OVER THE last century, industrialised countries took it upon themselves to "improve" labour-intensive agriculture by replacing manpower with machinery. The gesture upset social and ecological balances established over thousands of years. The wheel turns. Now there is much debate is about artificial intelligence and the potential negatives that its uptake may have on social well-being. 

Never before has the human race had such a capacity to partner with artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is much more capable of assimilating and manipulating contemporary knowledge of humans and humanity. Perhaps more importantly, it is not prone to distortion of data and facts to suit minority agendas. 

Artificial intelligence has the potential to make decisions based on the sum of knowledge of the human race, to audit outcomes free of minority influences and to retain a focus on "quality of life" as distinct from rampant materialism. 

The shortest road to a healthy world requires a partnership between artificial intelligence with its logistical capabilities and us with our ability to dream and innovate. But watch it. 

The value of artificial intelligence in that role is directly proportional to the integrity of its designers.

With underemployment exacerbated by the uptake of artificial intelligence, the demands presented by the need to rehabilitate natural balances are potentially a social life raft. It would require a management effort that saw all factions, political, religious or otherwise, collaborating to that end. New ethics, new standards and new employment opportunities abound. 

Keith Presnell, now retired, was director of renewable energy research at Charles Darwin University and Australia's representative on the International Energy Agency (IEA's) photovoltaic subcommittee.

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