IANS | 25 Jul, 2023
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new gift of (IT) that enables
the handling of data - created and stored in the binary of computer
language - with a speed that surpassed the human capacity for collation
Just as IT made human processing 'smart', AI makes
the Technology itself 'smart' - being 'smart' basically means being able
to enhance 'productivity' per unit of 'resource' whether it is the
'human' resource or 'time'.
The first thing to know about AI is
that it is an advanced application of IT but within the fundamental
constraint of an 'input-output' process - which is a sober reminder that
it was not a panacea for all human problems.
The progress is by
way of a phenomenal increase in the capacity to analyse data but the
basis of that exceptional performance was still the use of 'keywords' or
'patterns' fed into the computer system as was happening earlier - the
only difference being that this capacity-building required the
instrumentality of supercomputers.
A supercomputer comprises a
very large number of processor chips that can perform billions or
trillions of computations per second. Various facets of AI such as
'Machine learning', 'Deep learning', 'Natural language process' or
'Computer vision' are all dependent on the same input-output principle.
the 'data processing' capacity is now added the AI's new achievement of
being able to emulate human functions. In this era of multi-media
applications, AI is enabling the simulation of voice, 'looks' and
personal choices to produce authentic looking identities which may lie
on the turf of entertainment presently but which should raise alarm for
the potential it had of encouraging 'misinformation', fraud and
social-media misuse for multiple purposes including the game of
politics. This identity reproduction is again possible only because
technology has the capacity to integrate multiple data fed into the
system and collate them for responding to 'specific commands'.
course, the wherewithal for using this kind of AI application is
elaborate and expensive - the computer has to have GPU (Graphic
Processing Unit) in place of a CPU.
AI has surpassed the human
capacity to absorb and analyse information but only in quantitative
terms - not in terms of the versatility of thought that the human mind
is capable of harnessing for examining a situation.
Einstein, the world's greatest scientist, famously said that
'imagination is more important than knowledge' - he was alluding not to
any wild imagination but to the ability of the human mind to look beyond
the facts in front, and to envisage 'what lay ahead'.
essentially serves people in the present without guaranteeing any
capacity to control the future - beyond producing some learnings for
human beings about what to do or not to do to safeguard the collective
good. It is making a huge contribution in the fields of health,
education, agriculture, environmental research and above all
Technology companies are already offering newer
forms of apps for entertainment and making commercial gains for which
they cannot be blamed. If a product sells like a hot cake it is
legitimate for the producer to offer it at a premium. The flip side of
this entertainment is that children were becoming addicted to it in a
way that would hamper their mental growth and create a problem for their
The educational impact of exposure to the knowledge
offered by IT platforms like mobile phones, iPads and robotic
instruments, however, should not be underestimated.
brought AI into the news is the versatile and prolific ChatGPT, an
artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and released only a
few months ago. It is a Generational PRE TRAINED Transform class of
language models and is task specific. Its very description, however,
confirms the input-output matrix of AI.
ChatGPT can have
attractive applications. It can mimic the style of celebrities and
highly successful business leaders, write business pitches, compose
fairy tales and facilitate student essays. Its own acknowledgement of
the possibility that incorrect responses could be made, puts an element
of risk in its operation.
A fundamental point about the
information on the internet is that its reliability should never be
presumed. In matters requiring serious decision-making, other
corroborating inputs, therefore, should always be sought.
matters of security, AI may have its use in detecting a breach of a
technologically secured perimeter but the real call of security is to
have Intelligence - classically defined as information about 'what lies
ahead or what can happen in future' as regards the plans of an enemy.
works on data already fed into the system and does not go beyond
indicating what would essentially be a repetition made based on
collation and interpretation of a combination of patterns already known
to it. It can at best throw light on the modus operandi of the adversary
as assessed from the latter's past record without laying any claim on
knowing what the current thinking in the enemy camp would be.
AI adds to the threat to cyber security at the levels of nations, business institutions and even individuals.
has plans of addressing these security concerns - under Prime Minister
Narendra Modi's rule, proactive implementation of policy measures has
AI studies on machine learning have shown that
'linear thinking may give way to exponential thinking' sometimes but
this would still be a 'continuity of the process' rooted in the analysis
of the data already made available.
The human mind can use
readings of the total environment around an issue as input which is not a
given in an AI process. Even the importance of the 'prompt' is limited
because this trigger essentially lies in what the system has in the
present and does not enable AI to respond in the realm that belonged to
Predictive findings through AI are useful in a very
limited sense in the sphere of security and defence - satellite imagery,
signal intelligence and surveillance or communication interception
could be helped by it. However, in the fragile geopolitics of today
while identification of a 'threat' could be refined through the use of
highly developed technology symbolised by AI, the nature of 'response'
must be determined on an exercise of the action taker's discretion which
is a trait given to only a human mind.
In a nuclear setting,
however, it is the first strike that has to be determined by the human
mind though the second strike could always be automated. This was in
fact the deterrence behind the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) - the
American strategy followed in the Sixties during the height of the Cold
War. Nuclear deterrence somewhere still works on the certainty of the
far more pervasive second strike.
The best field of AI
application, however, is the socio-economic life of the people and it
seems the world is already moving towards a consensus on that. It is at
present that data analytics and emulation using the 'Internet of things'
and cloud computing, offer the best utility whether it is distance
learning, medical care, diversifying agriculture, aiding business
operations or innovating games for entertainment.
have made life more purposeful and richer. AI-assisted new models of
digital education and human resource development through skilling can
help to prepare people for the present knowledge economy.
threat of massive unemployment caused by AI is overestimated since its
application will create new services requiring new hands suitably
upskilled or re-skilled.
Expansion of technology in the digital
domain can create new jobs - Amazon is a good illustration of how the
advancement of IT leads to corporate expansion.
AI networks discover intricate structures in the data they handle and
learn from the same to produce phenomenal analytics. Industrial use of
AI enables plants to optimise their power consumption during live
operation and machines to perform quality control checks for making
necessary adjustments while manufacturing was still on.
the potential to address some of the biggest challenges in education
today through powerful adaptive learning solutions. It has improved crop
production and facilitated real-time monitoring including weed
detection, yield estimation and crop quality.
Domestic use of
robots in household chores like vacuum cleaning, cutting work in lawns
and cleaning the bottom of a swimming pool, can upgrade the quality of
day-to-day life. AI in its own ways can prove to be a socio-economic
equaliser and work for the amelioration of acute class divides in the
society. It is a measure of India's advancement in digital technology
that Prime Minister himself, in his recent meeting with OpenAI's CEO Sam
Altman at Delhi, appreciated AI's role in enriching the technology
eco-system, particularly for the youth of India - Sam Altman later gave
out that ChatGPT had been fully embraced in this country.
applications are powerful instruments of economic growth but they are
also vulnerable to being misused against India by our adversaries and an
awareness of threats to cyber security must therefore run through our
sensitive establishments, government organisations and even public
bodies engaged in national projects.
(The writer is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Views expressed are personal)