Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Share this free course

AI matters
AI matters

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3 Looking forwards

Given all that you have been presented with of the past and present practices of designing and using AI, it would be useful to take a brief look into the future of AI.

Described image
Figure 4

While there has been a lot of sensational reporting about AI leading to malicious super-intelligences and the like representing an existential threat to humans, there are some important reasons for us to be concerned, and you have already seen examples in Section 1.2 of where such technology can cause significant harm if not properly designed and used. However, it’s also important to note that it’s not all doom and gloom, and actually, there is good reason to be cautiously optimistic about the possibilities of such technology.

The following activity considers how you might better prepare for what some people have begun to consider as inevitable, the so-called ‘age of AI’.

Read the short online article from the Future of Life Institute (Future of Life Institute, n.d. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ), which considers both risks and benefits of AI from a more general perspective. This article provides useful background to the gradual rise in interest in AI safety since the middle of last decade. This article also contrasts more factual concerns around AI, with others that involve exaggeration, misunderstanding and the like – in particular, see the table in this article presenting myths and facts of AI side-by-side. For this activity, read the article as many times as you wish and complete the task that follows.

Activity 7

Timing: 15 minutes

Two of the questions at the end of the Future of Life article directly address the role of humans in a world that includes AI:

  1. Do you prefer new jobs replacing the old ones, or a jobless society where everyone enjoys a life of leisure and machine-produced wealth?
  2. What will it mean to be human in the age of artificial intelligence? What would you like it to mean, and how can you make the future be that way?

Choose one of these questions only and try to briefly answer this question as simply and honestly as you can in the discussion box below. The aim for now is to get some initial thoughts down, and you may like to come back and review your answer later, after you have worked through more of the course.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).