AI and Human Enhancement: Balancing Benefits with Ethical Concerns

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The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into human enhancement has sparked a complex debate, combining the potential for cognitive augmentation with ethical considerations. This discussion was recently highlighted in a paper entitled Artificial Intelligence and Human Enhancement: Can AI Technologies Make Us More (Artificially) Intelligent?” from the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, exploring AI as a cognitive enhancer and as a means of achieving artificially intelligent behavior. The paper, engaging with the works of scholars such as José Hernández-Orallo, Karina Vold, Alberto Giubilini, Julian Savulescu and Michal Klincevic, debates the role of AI in human intelligence and moral decision making​.

Understanding Human Intelligence in the Age of AI

The growing dependence on AI technologies raises concerns about their impact on human intelligence. The fear that artificial intelligence could lead to “human demotion,” a term coined by Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin, reflects a growing concern about the potential decline of human cognitive abilities. This concern is not unfounded; researchers, such as those from Norway, have seen a decline in IQ scores, linking this trend to an over-reliance on modern technology. The central question is whether AI technologies enhance human intelligence or contribute to its erosion.

Public perception and ethical considerations

Public opinion plays a significant role in the acceptance and application of AI in human enhancement. A Pew Research Center survey reveals a cautious attitude among Americans toward AI and technologies to enhance human capabilities. The study found that while there is an openness to these technologies, there is also significant demand for higher standards of safety and testing, particularly in emerging areas such as driverless cars and brain chip implants.

The survey also highlighted public concern about the social justice implications of these technologies. For example, the majority believe that the widespread use of AI in areas such as cognitive enhancement could widen the gap between higher and lower income groups. This highlights the importance of considering not only the technological capabilities of AI, but also its wider societal impacts.

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The Future of AI and Human Enhancement

Looking ahead, the role of AI in human enhancement is likely to continue to evolve, necessitating ongoing discussions about ethical implications, societal impact, and the balance between benefits and risks. As AI technologies become more advanced, they present both opportunities to extend human cognition and challenges in ensuring fair access and maintaining ethical standards.

In conclusion, while AI has the potential to greatly enhance human capabilities, its integration into our lives must be carefully managed to ensure that it serves as a useful tool rather than a detriment to human intelligence and social justice.

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