Artificial intelligence: threats and opportunities

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been integrated into our modern life quite quickly and is widely used in applications that we utilize every day. It helps us save our time by delegating the fulfilment of routine and sometimes complex specific tasks to automated processes and algorithms. The rapid development of AI technologies mainly has a positive impact, but also implies certain dangers and threats.

The speakers of the webinar and EPAM IT specialists Vitaliy Bondarenko, Principal, Technology Consulting, Oleksandr Reshetnik, Senior Software Engineering Manager and Yevhen Andrushko, Project Manager spoke about these issues and the future of artificial intelligence. AI is now utilized in almost all areas, including medical diagnostics, and driving vehicles without drivers. Currently, we stand on the threshold of a revolution, when artificial intelligence is actively developing, and automation processes become more and more common in our everyday life. For example, we have grown so used to being able to pay at self-service cash registers at the stores without the actual help of cashiers.

One of the incentives for rapid digitalization used to be the lockdown and the popularization of the remote work format. As we get used to automated processes very quickly, we strive to improve them, which explains significant developments in the field of artificial intelligence in recent years. They have already changed the way certain industries operate and gradually updated or replaced certain professions. It is worth noting that artificial intelligence can perform almost all routine work, provided that the appropriate reorganization of business processes is carried out. Generative technologies have automated such tasks as content creation, design and customer service, thereby transforming work processes. This may partially lead to the loss of certain positions, or the emergence of new ones, such as 3D printer operator, for example. The development of artificial intelligence technologies will contribute to new employment opportunities in such areas as the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analysis, and others.

Artificial intelligence has many advantages for its use in work and everyday life. It helps us optimize our daily processes of writing e-mails, messages, or marketing presentations. Specialists can now prepare articles or conference publications promptly with the use of ChatGPT. As a rule, it is not easy for technical specialists to formulate their thoughts, and artificial intelligence effectively helps them tackle this problem. The time for drafting certain materials has reduced almost by half, as ChatGPT, for example, provides “off-the-shelf” blocks of texts and thematic pictures upon request. Its use with a premium account gives even more opportunities to speed up the fulfilment of tasks for both individuals and companies.

Searching for such information in the browser used to take much more time. However, it is important to remember that any information obtained with the help of artificial intelligence must be verified. The speakers of the webinar advise working with AI technologies in a dialog mode to structure the obtained information and be able to ask questions to one or another chatbot. Currently, chatbots and ChatGPT, in particular, can be embedded in various applications. Their number will only grow and provide more and more beneficial opportunities for their users. Additionally, new, or improved text and voice interfaces will gradually appear in such applications. One of the good examples of the extended chatbot functionality is the Privat-24 chatbot, which is constantly updated and improved. It is also worth noting that currently the companies do not need to develop separate chatbots, they can just purchase a ready-made JS-script and apply it on the site. This will ensure the next level of technology use by end users and increase the attractiveness of certain companies.

The development of AI technologies also brings great benefits to IT specialists in their work and the development of the IT sphere in general. The popularization of ChatGPT and its ability to write code implies that the code quality will improve, the speed of coding will become faster, and the process of code management will become more automated. The application of AI technologies in IT processes improves the processes of programming and project management. Artificial intelligence will gradually generate code at the level of experienced junior- and middle-level IT specialists without errors. The role of junior- and middle-level specialists will gradually change. The speakers of the webinar believe that over time, new teams will work effectively, when the entire project will be built merely by one senior specialist and later by one team leader, utilizing several specialized models created for special domains. However, according to the speakers, classic projects with the opportunity to grow to the senior level will also remain. Junior- and middle-level specialists will apply AI to solve certain tasks. Over time, the functionality of DevOps developers will also change, as the processes of hosting and container orchestration will become more automated. Development decisions will be made directly by IT specialists, but all the processes will be significantly improved and optimized. In addition, artificial intelligence will also facilitate the work of the project manager, as the latter will be able to generate the team automatically based on the requirements and goals of the project.

The peculiarity of artificial intelligence, and ChatGPT in particular, is that it is based mainly on two processes: natural language processing (NLP) with the use of neural networks for learning and the application of a distributed data processing model. AI-generated text is unique and non-repetitive. Based on the relevant prompt, AI suggests several options that we can test and choose the one that fits best. For instance, NASA now actively uses AI during the construction of new structures, while setting technical parameters and tasks for further generation of solutions. AI technologies make it possible to create futuristic designs that an individual would have never been able to come up with. In addition, it has become a very helpful tool in financial sphere, in particular, when calculating stock exchange rates, planning financial forecasts and options of their impact on the activities of investors. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to automate many important processes in the mining sector, for example. AI technologies are also actively used in the process of modeling motorized prostheses utilizing neural networks, which humanity could not have imagined a few decades ago.

The speakers of the webinar believe that with the development of AI technologies, the education system will change gradually. The training programs will include learning the basics of programming with the use of artificial intelligence. Automated technologies will help improve the efficiency of students and professionals and allow them to focus on more important tasks. The speakers argue that general subjects should still be kept in the curricula, because they help develop critical thinking and shape the worldview of students. As of today, artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, in particular, can already fully automate the student’s learning process at the master’s level. Students can write their research papers and generate bibliography using digital processes. However, in such situations, it is extremely important to maintain a balance between the application of AI technologies and the analysis of the information you receive, as it may not fully correspond to reality. When writing scientific papers, we must first rely on our own experience, obtained at the meetings, conferences, as well as in practice. New technologies will not be able to fully replace scientists and academics, however, they will be able to significantly facilitate their work and research processes.

Currently, there is a pressing issue of ensuring privacy and data security when working with artificial intelligence. The intensity of technology development has both positive effects and challenges, hence, developers shall define limits to the safe level of information that users provide access to. When we send a certain request for information, we should understand that our data is used for analysis, and we usually cannot control how it will be applied in the future. OpenAI, the developer of the popular ChatGPT, states in its policy that its employees can use our information for research and training. That’s why we shall be careful about providing access to our data because we never know how safely the information we provide is stored and who can use it. Despite the convenience and availability of automated and fast generated data, we shall constantly check the validity of the information received. For instance, when we receive an answer to a prompt in ChatGPT, we shall be aware that the information provided is based on the Internet data, and therefore we cannot rely on it fully without analyzing and verifying it. In addition, from a psychological and socio-ethical point of view, we become increasingly dependent on technology, which can negatively affect our behavior.

In the future, the speakers of the webinar predict two vectors of AI development, namely the growth of its capacities and the improvement of the tools that ensure interaction with AI to obtain an optimal result. Currently, it is quite difficult to predict potential economic and social threats. The greatest ethical challenges for humanity may arise when we provide these technologies with the capability to make independent decisions on which other people’s lives depend. In addition, there are fears that artificial intelligence will, over time and given more and more opportunities, pass a certain stage of self-awareness and become an independent personality. Forecasts for such developments are not optimistic, and therefore, in the process of AI development, specialists shall set certain limits to prevent the emergence of serious threats to humanity. In the future, there will also be a high demand for organizations to be able to upload their data, including corporate documents, to ChatGPT to quickly obtain the analytics they need. However, to make this process secure, AI and ChatGPT, in particular, shall ensure confidentiality of information. For this and many other reasons, AI developers shall prioritize the issue of protecting user data and ensuring control over its utilization. This is particularly important, given the fact that currently the level of interest in technologies is growing massively among the users who do not fully understand how to utilize them correctly and rationally. It is possible to predict certain directions of AI development, but it will determine some vectors on its own, and this is the issue that is hard to predict in the future.

Artificial intelligence has already managed to transfer a significant number of our everyday tasks into the digital realm, thereby increasing our professional efficiency. To succeed and grow professionally, particularly in the IT field, specialists shall follow the latest trends, learn, and simultaneously apply new technologies. It is with the help of artificial intelligence that developers can now perform their work faster and better, as algorithmic processes can already be performed for them by AI tools. However, we must be careful about providing access to personal and corporate information, as there are threats of misuse of such data. Currently, ensuring its protection and preservation is one of the most important issues to consider continuing the development of AI technologies in a safe way and without causing harm to the users.