Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot topic at the moment. It promises to change our lives in countless ways, with some thinking it will be for the positive, while others have expressed reservations about the damage it could do to humanity. Here are four ways in which AI could radically transform the way we live our lives.

Sex and love

Once we stop the sniggering we might have to face the fact that AI-powered sexbots or companions could have a profound impact on how we form relationships in the future. At the very least, we would have to seriously entertain the possibility that many people might decide that a low-maintenance relationship with an android companion is easier than dealing with the real thing.

Will we see shy young people opt for charming robots instead of overcoming their inhibitions? Will we see men and women who have had enough of the disappointments of real relationships cut their losses and go artificial? And how about the world’s oldest profession? Will sexbots make adult industry workers redundant?

This area is moving ahead very quickly, as evidenced by companies like California-based Abyss Creations, which uses the Realbotix AI platform to power its RealDoll sexbots. We’ve seen this kind of thing for years in movies like Blade Runner and Westworld, but we might have to deal with the ethical questions it raises sooner than we think.

As this article on Cnet points out,  the creators of these AI-enhanced bots have lofty ambitions: “The idea isn’t just to have sex with them, but to talk with them. Grow close with them. Fall in love with them, even.”

VIDEO: Chatting to an AI-powered sexbot

Work and employment

There are broadly two schools of thought when it comes to how AI will affect our working lives: either it will replace almost all of our jobs and leave us with little more to do than aimlessly wander the Earth (or Mars); or it will create a whole new economy in which we will find new jobs to do, as has generally happened in the past with tech innovations.

In the doomsday scenario corner is Elon Musk: “It is the biggest risk that we face as a civilisation.”

Speaking at the National Governors Association meeting earlier this year, Musk said both government and business had to catch up to the technology in order to avert a potentially disastrous outcome from mass automation powered by artificial intelligence.

“Right now the government doesn’t even have insight,” he said. “Once there is awareness people will be extremely afraid, as they should be.”

To be fair to Musk, he does say that humanity is still in control of its destiny and not all hope is lost yet. But the clock is ticking.

On the other hand, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt says AI will help boost productivity but will still require plenty of human workers to actually make it worthwhile. “People keep saying, what happens to jobs in the era of automation? I think there will be more jobs, not fewer,” he says.

Let’s hope Schmidt is right.

The religion of the future?

Looking for a more scientifically based expression of faith? Maybe the Way of the Future church is for you. It’s not entirely certain that this AI worshipping church started by former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski is a joke or a money-making hoax or a bona fide cult, but its manifesto is odd to say the least:

“Way of the Future (WOTF) is about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + “machines”. Given that technology will “relatively soon” be able to surpass human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition.”

According to this Wired article, documents have been filed by Levandowski with the Internal Revenue Service, and his religion will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.”

Strange days indeed.

Life and death

According to this report in Medical Daily, AI-powered medical technology will be able to predict how long you will live: “In a very small study of 48 participants, all of whom were at least 60 years old, scientists from the University of Adelaide in Australia analyzed photos of people’s organs using artificial intelligence. They were able to predict who would die within five years with 69 percent accuracy, which is roughly the same as an oncologist’s.”

That’s just one aspect of the way AI will drive innovations and discoveries in the field of medicine. Artificial intelligence and deep learning will change healthcare and the way medical professionals work. It will most likely lead to even more extended life expectancies and probably quicker and more accurate diagnosis of disease and illness. We could also see a revolution in robotic prosthetics that change the way we perform physical tasks, especially as we age and our body parts deteriorate.

Katy Cao

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