Technological innovations and artificial intelligence

  • Awareness
  • 24/11/2016
  • João Pedro Martins, Youth moderator

This week, 19 youth panellists from across Europe are meeting in Luxembourg at the European Youth Panel (YEP). This annual event precedes the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2016, where the participating youth also input to high-level discussions with multiple stakeholders on creating a better internet. Here, one of the participants, João Pedro Martins, a 19-year-old computer engineering student from Portugal, provides his views on one of the topics under discussion – artificial intelligence.

"We live constantly on the verge of breakthroughs, expecting technology to be faster, smaller and more incredible. If, in the past, it was easy to be fascinated by science-fiction movies, nowadays it seems like we are actually living them.
 
"The reason why it is so difficult to point out all technological innovations, or to name the best one, is because they are appearing in different fields, with a variety of features and possibilities. What we need is to take the most from each one of them, and even combine them to achieve transversal solutions.
 
"With this in mind, I would like to talk about a new reality: the virtual one (VR). Physically, it comes in different forms from headsets for your phone, or more complex options that require more powerful processor capabilities, or just a lot of space to move around. Regardless of which you choose, the ways you can make the most from VR are endless: the key rule being that if you can dream about it, you can do it. And, even better, you could share it with your friends, who can help turn your idea into reality, virtual or not. Socially and economically speaking, there is a whole new dimension to be explored.
 
"What if you could speak to your fridge? Or if your fridge would be capable of telling your microwave to wake up because it's the morning? Again, this is not science fiction: it's what's known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Physical devices interacting through the internet, collecting and exchanging data to make your life more comfortable… how cool is that? Or how scary, right? Would you go a step further and allow a machine to control all of that for you?
 
"Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be viewed from rather opposite perspectives, but for the purposes of this article, I would put it as a machine that understands its environment and adapts to it, taking decisions that increase its chances of success at achieving a goal. In other words, the machine would be able to learn like we do. Think about the implications to the world, as is, of the emergence of AI. In one sense, the positive one, it could solve plenty of our daily global problems, optimising logistics, managing resources in the most efficient way, and predicting events. On the other hand, we cannot dismiss a world machine-take-over scenario, as farfetched as it sounds. Of course, I would be more inclined to believe in human interests behind that world dominance, meaning we need to be cautious if following this path.
 
"All in all, the Earth will not stop spinning any time soon, as discoveries and inventions will always outpace present solutions. As individual future consumers or users we should be critic about what we embrace, careful of what we give, and be sure of what we expect in return."
 
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids Portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

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