LITR 4368
Literature of the Future

Model Assignments

Final Exam Essays 2017


 Sample answers for Essay 2:
personal / professional interests


Vaneza Cervantes

Artificial Intelligence: Safe or Dangerous?

Artificial Intelligence, AI, has been around for years. The use of AI throughout our lives has increased immensely and continues to as we progress. With its use and numbers increasing, there are many thoughts and controversies on AI. Scientist’s state that they want to create something amazing - such as an AI that could complete human tasks and have cognitive thinking. As a future educator, I fear that with the rise of high tech, AI robots are potential candidates of taking over the jobs of educators.

It is at this step in time that people want to draw the line. Many fear this future because they are afraid of the thought that a man-made machine could be like them, and could even come to overpass them. In House of Bones by Robert Silverberg, the reading audience goes back to a prehistoric era. A man from the future travels back and encounters primitive men. The cavemen found him interesting and new; they were definitely afraid of him and did not know whether to trust him, especially with their secret language. Man feels the same now with artificial intelligence, whether to trust or not.

Even though humanity does not want to see it, artificial intelligence is already everywhere. We see this from the automatic self-parking in cars to the personal assistants found in your smartphone. Reading Somebody Up There Likes Me by Ralph Lombreglia reminds me of this growth. The author writes from the year 1994. Yet the characters are living in the year 1999, and a comprehendible 2000 computer has been created that when you talk to it, it writes what you dictate it to. In our world we didn’t see that till the IPhone brought out Siri in 20102. This is how fast our world is evolving. Now that we have computers and phones that type what we say, is there a use in hiring a secretary?

According to the website ‘Teachthought We Grow Teachers’ AI is already poised to make big changes in education. The website listed ten roles where AI can be found in education but the main once that concerns me is the change of role of teachers, “AI can take over tasks like grading, can help students improve learning, and may even be a substitute for real-world tutoring. AI systems could be programmed to provide expertise, serving as a place for students to ask questions and find information or could even potentially take the place of teachers for very basic course materials.” Moving to high tech could definitely be the down fall of educators.

As engineers and inventors move forward with high technology, just like in Stone Lives by Paul Di Filippo. Stone the main character is given high tech cybernetic implants1 on his eyes that allow him to see and recover his memory. This is an example of how high tech works, which is involved with AI. Looking at it from the profession of a teacher, just like ‘Teachthought’ predicted, the AI robot Solbit has been already created. Solbit is described as, “whether you are a child, a parent, or a teacher, Solbit will create a personalized learning experience. Solbit does so many things: it listens, it recognizes (voices, words, and images), it follows, it asks, it answers, it teaches, and it tracks progress. Most important of all, Solbit learns and #growstogether with the child.” Solbit is an AI and a STEAM methodology robot. This little robot already does everything a teacher does. It teaches, it can answer you, it recognizes who is talking to him. If man keeps building these robots teachers will no longer be wanted. Therefore what happens to the profession of a teacher?

Another interesting article I found was that a professor actually created an AI teaching assistant. With many classes either face to face or online, the professor needed great assistance. Therefore Professor Goel created Jill Watson the AI teaching assistant for his online class. So far Jill answers routine questions, “the types of questions that have firm, objective solutions,” while the other TAs answer the more complex questions. However, “Goel is hoping to use Jill as the seed of a startup, and if she's capable of more, he's keeping the information under wraps because of ‘intellectual property issues’.” When one reads this for the first time it sounds so cool and interesting, but looked deeply I see a threat to the jobs of TAs and teachers. The robot was built to ease the workload, but if inventors keep going with inventing different robots then we will diffenitly be at ease. Man would have no work to do. Goel reassures his audience, "none of us (AI experts) thinks we're going to build a virtual teacher for 100 years or more." This article was written in March 2017, I say with the rate they are going 100 years does not seem that far of, but maybe close enough.

Advocates for AI and its progression are fascinated by the idea of such a future and long to see it. The main enemy of AI has come to be known as fear. There have been many advances in AI, yet there could be more. AI has a lot of potential and could actually be more advanced than we think. The problem is that once an AI does something it was not programmed to do, people begin to feel afraid. There is fear of the unknown, like in the Onion and I by Thomas Fox Averill. It could be argued that the father, in the story, was afraid of forgetting what is real. Many people are in the same boat, if we accept these robots, if we accept AI robots to be educators, then what happens to the real people? One would see how it is not the same, reality with artificial reality, robots can be the same.

To conclude, although man thinks that creating these new interesting robots are amazing and revolutionary. I see a sense of concern. True no one knows what the future holds, but if man continues working on high tech materials then they will create an AI teacher robot, and sadly educators will be out of a job, or be decreased to teacher aids. The future is wonderful thing to dream about, but when it could jeopardize your future, it can be concerning.


1 I really like how Kimberly Hall worded this in her Essay 1: The Power of Three, just making sure I am giving her credit.