If you’re active on social media, or watch the nightly news, you’ve likely seen footage of a press conference earlier this year, held entirely with robots. The rapid advancement in robot technology raises concern for many, who fear a Terminator-like future, where the machines outsmart the humans and take over Planet Earth. In a separate interview, a robot named Ameca, suggested that possibility.
Alternately, the presence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in everything from chat programs to restaurant services has made both the European Union and the U.S. government take action to regulate it and keep us safe from its potential harm.
While it’s wise to move forward with both eyes open, so to speak, it’s also only fair to acknowledge the ways that Artificial Intelligence and other breakthroughs in science and technology can help humanity.
On this World Science Day for Peace and Development, we’ll discuss the theme, “Building Trust in Science,” and provide tips on how to wade through the illusions.
Human Jobs in Jeopardy
While some roles may become obsolete due to AI replacements that can replicate human behaviours, most careers are likely secure.
Take graphic design, for example. Normally, we would use an original photo at the top of our essay, but this month, we used an AI generator to create it for us, only feeding it the exact words of the UN Observance, “World Science Day for Peace and Development.”
While the image is a trippy interpretation, it surely wouldn’t win any photography or design awards, nor rival what a human would conjure with a camera or a paintbrush.
But that’s not to say AI can’t be a useful tool for creatives. My video “Lucky Ones,” directed by David Dutton, was the first of its kind to be brought to life using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Stable Diffusion and Disco Diffusion. He used Google Notebook Colab to write AI code that matched the footage we had shot, then it was animated on a green screen. In our experience, AI enhanced the vision we shared in a beautiful way.
For all of the press attention given to self-driving cars and artistic uses for AI, there are significant scientific breakthroughs in the field of medicine happening as well.
With the help of neuroscientists, a digital bridge was created in a Dutch man’s brain that enabled him to walk for the first time in 12 years, after a cycling accident left him paralyzed. The implant was the culmination of years of research and is still intended to be ‘experimental,’ but his success undoubtedly gives hope to so many who could benefit in the future from the same technology.
There have also been advancements in early detection for conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancers. Knowledge is power when it comes to our health, so the earlier we learn that we could be more susceptible to specific ailments, the quicker we could work to prevent them.
The developments in science over time have without question led to longer life expectancies. Surgeries became understandably more mainstream after the invention of anaesthesia in 1846. The discovery of the X-ray in 1895 offered doctors the ability to examine fractures and foreign objects in the human body for the first time without surgery. The polio vaccine, formulated in 1955, eradicated the disease from all but two countries on the planet.
The list goes on. Yet so many people still don’t believe in science.
The Climate Conundrum
Where the earth and atmosphere are concerned, we’re all in this together. Unfortunately not everyone trusts climate science and time is running out to change their minds.
So, what does this have to do with peace? Quite a lot, really.
Take regenerative agriculture, for example. In the new film we’re supporting, Common Ground, the filmmakers show the difference between land that uses traditional means of farming (with pesticides, etc.) and that of land that uses regenerative, natural methods (ground cover, etc.) to demonstrate how much healthier it is for both humans and the earth to do the latter. It’s more profitable, doesn’t have links to illness, doesn’t cause soil degradation, etc. yet only 1.5% of U.S. farmland adheres to regenerative practices.
Why? Because the existing farmers either aren’t aware of, or don’t believe what could happen, if we don’t fight climate change now by promoting better soil health on a massive scale. This is partially because there has been a campaign led against the belief in climate science for decades.
Stop the Spread of Misinformation
Though it often feels like an uphill battle, raising awareness of true issues that impact us all is still possible (and necessary). If you’re in doubt of information you’ve read or want to be sure that something you wish to share is legitimate, here are a few websites where you can verify information accuracy:
The most comprehensive international database is Media Bias Fact Check, which boasts more than 7000 resources to verify against.
FactCheckHub is another extensive resource, which also offers free tutorials, geared to help identify and stop the spread of misinformation.
Perhaps the most well-known site is Snopes, featuring research on everything from pop culture to the supernatural.
BBC Reality Check addresses questionable stories and reports in real-time, and to get to the bottom of how things really did (or did not) unfold.
Geared toward fairness in U.S. politics, going into an election year, FactCheck.org will be especially valuable. They also have a specific section, SciCheck, that exposes fake scientific claims driven by partisan politics.
If we all take a moment to research content before we share, inevitably the correct information will surface. In today’s world, we just have to remember to breathe deeply and proceed with caution …