• The Unesco Courier (2018_3): Artificial Intelligence: The promises and the threats

The Unesco Courier (2018_3): Artificial Intelligence: The promises and the threats

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Computers and robots are now learning to make decisions! Of course, “deciding” is a big word for machines that have no consciousness and whose level of “reasoning” is not even as evolved as that of a frog. But the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI) are enough to frighten some and to arouse the fantasies of others.

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Between myth and reality, where exactly does the current research stand in this technology that threatens to disrupt all others? In its Wide Angle section, the Courier attempts to untangle the various paths of inquiry and offers some terminological signposts to help uninitiated readers to find their way through the fascinating but scary world of AI.

For many, the word “intelligence” is only a metaphor when it is applied to machines or robots which are destined ‒ we are assured ‒ to remain simple and humble assistants to humans. AI helps us transcend language  barriers through machine translation, to perform many routine tasks, even to do the housework, manufacture goods, detect illnesses at an earlier stage than doctors can, and to create prosthetics that can be activated by a thought.