In the late 1950s and early '60s, many people worried that computers would replace humans. That is not surprising, because the first computers were massive, expensive, and impressive machines but in hindsight they could only perform simple calculations by today's standards. By the early '70s many people realized that computers could be used for tasks other than calculating mathematical problems. In fact, they were being used in a variety of ways. In the civilian sector, computers were being used to keep track of inventory and financial records. They were being used to do library research, draw maps, and perform scientific calculations. They were also being developed for military use (deterrence programs), such as simulating missile attacks against Russia and launching nuclear bombing attacks over the North Pole. What really brought computers to the attention of the public was the early '80s, when IBM introduced its personal computer. Now, computers are so embedded into daily life that we don't even think about how far we have come.
And just when it seemed everyone is familiar with computers and their use, here comes the 21st century with more surprises. Today's students are already utilizing computers to create art, music, films, and other creative works. They can use computer programs to manipulate music samples and then design a song around the sample. They can also alter and manipulate images from a variety of sources. Best of all, these new computer programs and software now come with a price tag that can fit almost any budget.
As computer technology continues to become more integrated into people's daily lives, it is becoming increasingly apparent that an intelligent computer "Next Generation Compute" is somewhere in the near future. For example, a human can simply ask a question to Google's search engine, and in seconds can receive information from thousands of sources around the world. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) is making everyday computers easier to use and more efficient.
The evolution of artificial intelligence is occurring at a very rapid pace. The impact and depth of influence that AI could have on technology is unfathomable. That scenario might sound scary, but it is not. Over time, all technology improves. Most people would agree that technological advancements have made life easier and better for humans. But what will "Next Generation Computing" look like? Adept, a California-based company, has developed a new AI model called Action Transformer (ACT-1). ACT can perform actions in software like a human assistant when given high level written or verbal commands. This means that ACT can operate web apps and perform intelligent searches on websites while clicking, scrolling, and typing just as if it were someone operating the computer itself!
While browsing automation scripts already exist (and are frequently used to power bots with ill intentions), the powerful, generalized nature of ACT-1 implied in the demos seems to take machine automation to a new level. Unlike relatively narrow, domain-specific scripting languages like Perl or Python (for automating software tasks or repairing web pages, respectively), ACT-1 is designed to enable a machine to learn to perform arbitrary actions in any software application. According to Adept:
"We believe that AI systems should be built with humans at the center — our vision is one where machines work together with people in the driver's seat: discovering new solutions, enabling more informed decisions, and giving us more time for the work we love."
The Pros of (ACT-1) Artificial Intelligence Technology
One of the primary benefits of Action Transformer is that it possesses the potential to increase efficiency. Imagine being able to tell your computer to "book a meeting room for 10 people at 2 pm next Wednesday" and having it take care of everything for you without you having to lift a finger. For busy professionals constantly pulled in a million different directions, this could be a meaningful change.
Another benefit of the Action Transformer is that it could be used to improve workflows within a large company. For example, imagine having an AI assistant for scheduling meetings that could make all the necessary calls and keep you on track with everything else.
As a universal problem-solving tool, ACT would be able to discover solutions for any problems posed by users in real-time, without having to ask them for assistance.
In addition, ACT-1 could be used to support people with disabilities. For example, someone who is paralyzed could use ACT-1 to browse the web or perform other tasks that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
The Cons of (ACT-1) Artificial Intelligence Technology
While there are many potential positives to using Action Transformer, there are equally some potential negatives that should be considered.
First, as with any revolutionary technology, there is always the potential for misuse. For example, ACT-1 could be used to create bots that automatically purchase tickets or products as soon as they go on sale, which would make it difficult for ordinary people to get their hands on popular items. Additionally, ACT-1 could be used to commit click fraud or other malicious activities.
Secondarily, there is the potential for privacy concerns to arise. If ACT-1 is given access to your email inbox, for example, it could theoretically read all your emails. While it's unlikely that Adept would allow ACT-1 to be used in this way, it's, nonetheless, something to keep in mind.
Thirdly, since the technology is still in its infant stages, there is the potential for bugs to be discovered. While it's unlikely that there would be any security related bugs at this point, it's something to watch out for.
There are also potential ethical concerns that could arise. For example, should companies be allowed to create AI that can perform tasks more quickly than any human being? This could decrease the need for human labor. I'm of the opinion that you will always require human interaction. Even if robots handle automated tasks intelligently, you will still need the human element to pull it all together in a meaningful way.
How do you feel about Adept's AI Action Transformer? Do you think it will revolutionize the way we operate computers in a constructive or negative way? Will it even matter if we can instruct our computers to do everything for us? Please communicate your thoughts in the comments section of our linkedIN post.
Time will tell whether Action Transformer like technology is good or bad for humanity. While there are some clear advantages to this technology, there are also some significant risks that should not be ignored. It's important that we think carefully about how we integrate AI into our lives and consider the implications while simultaneously and boldly advancing AI technology further.