The Pros and Cons of AI – A tightrope walk

Artificial Intelligence: A Boon or a Bane?

With respect to Artificial Intelligence, the buzzword of the 21st Century, Dave Waters says:

“Artificial Intelligence is an infant at best. Once it becomes a teenager and believes it is smarter than its parents, will AI rebel?”
In today’s rapidly advancing world, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is certainly not uncommon to hear or read, in magazines and blog posts (such as those posted by XLNC!); at business meetings and on television. In our everyday lives, a lot of us apply AI technology to our mundane organizational as well as other personal tasks, more often than not without even realizing its presence. However, a substantial population of individuals and groups are still extremely skeptical about this illusive technology, and the idea of machines functioning autonomously without human intervention. While AI enthusiasts often sound gung-ho about the fields of Machine Learning and Automation – claiming these to make life more efficient and dynamic – a lot of others still struggle with getting over the apprehension that AI might take complete control of human life, leaving us slaves to a Frankenstein’s monster.
We’re back with a blog; and today, let’s discuss the various conventions and perceptions associated with the AI technology; and objectively evaluate AI’s benefits and drawbacks against the backdrop of the 21st Century world:

I.Hey! AI ain’t all that bad, after all…
For those of you who are apprehensive and skeptical about embracing a technology as “frightening” and “overpowering” as Artificial Intelligence, we’re here to break the ice between AI and you. Here we are, with the positive side of Artificial Intelligence:

a.Artificial Intelligence does not recognize intellectual laziness
While human intelligence has managed to achieve leaps and bounds in various fields at different levels, it is always highly susceptible to spells of complacence and “intellectual laziness”. That’s where AI steps in. Siri, Alexa and Cortana do not tire of assisting you regardless of the time of day or night (for more dope on this, check out our previous blog on chatbots –; and your personalized AI tutors will never tire of teaching you or helping you with teaching others. This is one of the reasons for Artificial Intelligence being promoted over manual task completion.

b.To err is human, so humans created Artificial Intelligence.
Einstein famously said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” As living beings, mistakes and blunders have always been a simultaneous process alongside the successes and accomplishments. However, Artificial Intelligence is definitely not a blunder (okay, hang on…we’re coming to the cons!). When programmed accurately, an AI technology is less likely to commit errors; and is usually flexible across different platforms.

c.‘Cause humans are so quick, they find themselves too slow…
Today, the world is now resorting to quickness and instantaneousness in whatever it does – so much so, that the natural speed of humans is sometimes too slow for this world. And so, AI bridges the gap between the fast progressing world and the people residing in it, by providing faster and more efficient ways and means of reaching the desired ends. AI is being widely used in almost all sectors today, including healthcare, education, transportation and communication, and defense and military, in order to ensure speed and accuracy with minimal compromise on either.

d.Your AI is sensitive, but not emotional.
While chatbots and GPS may be courteous and sensitive to your needs, they certainly do not possess deeper emotions and mood-swings; and you can rest assured that they will not complain of overwork and fatigue. And such a detached concern for the customers ensures that they can be reliable, diligent and caring, even when the work is strenuous and hectic.

II. AI ain’t all that good either…
But, are we headed towards utopia? Is AI really so perfect that one can totally overlook even remote possibilities of failures or disadvantages? Most definitely not! Just like everything else on this earth, AI, too, has two sides; and a lot of people are skeptical about applying this technology for this reason. Come, let’s evaluate the various drawbacks of AI, and brainstorm on each:

a.Yes, my processes will be more efficient, but at what ‘cost’?
Once installed and applied to our day-to-day lives, Artificial Intelligence can certainly be quite viable and cost effective. However, in the first place, it is important to install it to our already existing systems, and ensure that it functions optimally and independently. And these processes are not exactly economical. Designing the specific tool of AI and then training the machine to operate without human intervention can be an expensive task, and one needs to be prepared to incur the expenditure in order to enjoy the results later.

b.Your AI is emotionally intelligent, but sometimes, not intelligently emotional
Yes, AI may have been designed to understand human emotions and analyze sentiments. AI may also be able to carry out complex tasks that humans may never be able to undertake. However, there is a certain depth in perception and perspective that no machine has ever been able to touch, at least till now. And due to this incapability, AI ventures can sometimes turn into not-so-pleasant adventures. For example, in 2016, Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot created havoc when it began abusing, and passing pro-Nazi comments such as “Hitler was right.” While this experimental chatbot, Tay, was only imitating some humans who had been playing mischief, the situation was certainly alarming. Had the AI device been entirely controlled and mediated by a human, the situation may have probably been handled better.
AI technology may be perceived as an innocent child whose mind, though extremely active, is a clean slate. It is the responsibility of humans to ensure it doesn’t waiver from the right path.

c.“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Einstein meant this only for human intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence apparently cannot have fun beyond a certain extent – it is limited to the innovative strategies and programming already stored inside them by humans. And so, intrinsic creativity does not figure anywhere here. That’s a faculty exclusive to humans – and processes sans human intervention can, well, only do so much to help matters.

d.While taking the help of machines, are we becoming machines ourselves?
This is one of the greatest concerns that the modern, artificially intelligent world is having to face in the recent times. There is always a threat that Artificial Intelligence can replace human intelligence in a big way; however, a lot of us don’t realize that as creators of Artificial Intelligence, it is we who have the upper-hand over our creations. As users, one must realize that machines and technology are not meant for encouraging intellectual laziness and procrastination; but rather, for facilitating increased efficiency and application of one’s intellect. And any device, when misused, can be detrimental to society and individuals. AI is no different.


5 Ways in which Chatbots are the best assistants

“Chatbots are the new websites, and messaging platforms are the new browsers,” someone said.

Personal assistants and secretaries have existed for as long as there have been people at higher posts in offices and companies. Whether it’s typing out a letter or sending out invites for meetings, they have done it all. While these jobs of helping out another person at work have ensured enough employment generation through the decades, we can all agree that these jobs are far from lucrative. The rule-based, repetitive tasks often tend to reduce people to two hands performing uninteresting tasks without applying their intellect.
So how about a personal assistant who is ever-willing to help – whether it’s setting your alarms or informing you about today’s weather; or simply raising your spirits with a joke or tongue-twister when you’re under the weather. Welcome to the world of chatbots, your 24/7 personal assistants!
We’re back with a blog, and today, let’s dedicate a blog post to our dedicated, diligent, and sometimes quite eccentric, virtual assistants. These virtual assistants have been around for quite some time now, starting with the first of their clan, Apple’s Siri. Today, we have a handful of virtual assistants; including Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Google Assistant for smartphones and Google home; performing a world of tasks for every day:

1.Your chatbots don’t sleep at work. And they’re at work ALL THE TIME.
Let’s face it. Human assistants must not be overworked under any circumstances; and they deserve their 7 hours of sleep and timely breaks. Ever observed Cortana or Alexa not in their seats owing to tea-break or simply because they have already finished the given hours of service? Your chatbots are never, ever exhausted. Whether you want them to carry out extensive research for your business, or entertain you with a poem on one of those insomniac nights, they are available 24/7.

2.Hundred queries, one assistant!
Life can certainly be chaotic and confusing sometimes. And don’t we all look for that go-to person to consult during times of confusion? But how many queries can even the most learned and well-informed person answer at once? Yes, let’s face it – humans do have their own limitations, and it’s alright. And that’s why we have designed virtual assistants who can perform tasks that humans generally can’t – such as processing, with unbelievable accuracy, hundreds of queries asked at the same time from a thousand different devices; and providing suitable, spontaneous, and sometimes even witty responses to every individual. That’s the beauty of Artificial Intelligence.

3.Chatbots are like chameleons – they can adapt themselves to every scenario!
As discussed before, humans cannot be everywhere; and different online platforms have been designed by us in order to facilitate easier and more efficient communication across the globe. With chatbots having entered the scene, the question arises as to whether these awesome assistants can be integrated to the vast repertoire of systems and platforms built by us over the years. The answer is a resounding YES! Your chatbots are like chameleons – they can easily change colour in order to adapt themselves to the environment they are exposed to. Thus, they set up shop at practically any domain; helping you with your queries and organizing sprees; your chaotic moments and phases of boredom.

4.No, your chatbot shall not demand salary on the 1st of the coming month!
While the job profiles of customer service executives and personal assistants have always ensured employment generation, these occupations, needless to say, function on salary basis. You cannot, and must not, hire a person with dismal or no income provided to him/her. However, chatbots do not need three square-meals a day. They are more than happy to reside in the software platform in which you place them, making it their forever home; and when you ask Siri or Google Assistant whether they have families of their own, their ultimate happiness is in serving you! Other virtual assistants and chatbots are no different. It is quite economical to maintain your chatbot; updating it from time-to-time and modifying it to meet the requirements of the given platform.

5.Human spontaneity minus human impatience = Chatty Chatbot!
Your chatbot can converse with you about almost anything under the sun – keeping the to-and-fro nature of human conversation intact, while also eliminating the negative aspects of the same; such as boredom and impatience. This gives customers a near-perfect interaction experience, where they are helped by the chatbots with great precision, regardless of the time of the day/night, and the complexity level of the question.
And last but not the least, chatbots can even be customized to entertain you in whatever rational way you deem fit – right from playing games with you, to reciting poems or jokes, and engaging in occasional situational comedy during the course of your conversations.

Artificial Intelligence can certainly make life more efficient in every way; and the ‘chatbot’ wonder is probably the best example of the same. However, chatbots go one step beyond the macro level of Artificial Intelligence, to include the benefits of AI’s subfield, Machine Learning; which enables them to carry out their tasks independently, without human intervention. In a lot of ways, having bestowed life on AI and ML, humans have created forces that are capable of performing unbelievable feats that humans are either totally incapable of, or require to invest excessive amounts of time and effort to complete. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is, after all, the human caliber and intellect that has led to such an invincible creation in the first place; and so, it is our responsibility to use our creations in as optimal and secure a manner as possible.


“The entire effort of artificial intelligence is essentially a fight against computers’ rigidity,” says Douglas Hofstadter.
“Hi, Alexa!” you say on a busy morning. And in the next few minutes, you are thanking the voice behind that device, which has performed some significant tasks for you.
You have an arm injury, but want to travel in the comfort of your vehicle. Your fully-automated car drops you to your workplace with zero efforts on your part.

Welcome to the magical world of AI! In this hastily transforming world of constant hustle-bustle, imperfection and time-lapse is frowned upon, and constant movement encouraged. While perfection is a utopian concept for humans, and cannot be expected of mere mortals, this and more is certainly being achieved by our very own Frankenstein’s monsters – Artificial Intelligence. Over the past few years, AI has taken unbelievable precedence over various walks of our lives; from education and industries to household and hospitality. While OK Google, Siri and Alexa compete to provide you best-quality services (and some ROFL moments too!), hotel industries are now making use of robots to take orders and deliver food.
But does the advent of AI threaten human intellect and agility in any way? Is the world becoming dangerously dependent on an external force? And have we worked so hard to build these artificial devices just so that we stop working?
We are back with a blog, to discuss the basic points of difference between our AI Frankenstein monsters and us:

1. “To err is human…” – in the truest sense
And that’s because AI cannot err. Of course, unless the human creating it may have committed an error. Artificial Intelligence is capable of performing even the most complex of tasks and algorithms with perfect ease and efficiency. Your AI does not recognize Monday Blues or Sunday offs. Or snoozing off at the traffic signal while driving.

2. “To be or not to be…” Ask AI!
Not only that, AI is also being used to predict future instances using the information available in the present. This feature of AI is being widely used in different domains; including data analytics, lead ranking and face recognition. These predictions often allow humans to take important decisions that can ensure a better future for the industry. Such predictions, if left to humans, may require them to invest a high amount of time and effort. But sometimes, it is also important to take those “emotional decisions” and make abstract considerations, which is clearly not AI’s forte.

3. Sorry. The creative juices don’t flow here.
OK Google might probably recite you a poignant poetry or two every once in a while, but that’s about it. It’s “inhuman” to expect human emotions and feelings out of AI. And that’s the reason one cannot instruct AI to come up with creative marketing strategies or out-of-the-box ideas.

4. All outcomes are created equal.
AI provides exactly the same treatment to every outcome of an activity, regardless of the number of times it has been instructed to carry it out. With humans, consistency (or the lack of it) can prove to be a major challenge, since not only two humans performing the same task, but even the same human carrying it out at different times, can produce remarkably different results.

5. Slow down, dear human….
The human-mind is an ocean, consisting of a huge reservoir of thoughts, emotions, feelings, sentiments…and all sorts of quirkiness, too. We are forever on our toes, trying to take leaps from one point to the other; and in the process, getting done a hoard of tasks all at once. But that’s not how AI works. Your AI tool cannot handle all your multitasking. The con – you have to be patient with it. The pro – the quality of work is never compromised for quantity.

6. Old is gold for AI
While you may be adventurous, outgoing and open to new experiences, AI is not easily adaptable to new changes, and takes quite some time to get accustomed to them.

7. Man is a social animal, but AI is not.
Humans have been surviving and thriving in a highly interactive, collaborative and communicative civilization. Unfortunately, AI is very new to this world, as still finds it a struggle to adapt to new and challenging social scenarios. For AI, the programmed information serves as the ultimate truth, and thinking beyond these boundaries of human programming is not its cup of tea.

At the end of the day, more than comparing human-intelligence with AI, it is important to realize that while AI consists simply of high IQ, human intelligence is a smart blend of IQ as well as EQ. So your AI can do wonders when it comes to rule-based tasks that do not require abstract thinking, but cannot handle tears and heartbeats. Hey, that’s probably why AI is also being used to do some risky tasks that humans cannot perform due to emotional and mental vulnerability. Food for thought!

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