Publicado em April 20, 2023

Artificial Intelligence and the Apocalypse:

Demystifying the Fear of Artificial Intelligence

Understand how the performance, democratization and complexity of AI models are revolutionizing our world, without necessarily bringing about the end of times.

For centuries, the human imagination has constructed stories of the end of the world and apocalyptic events. The Bible, one of the oldest sets of books, has a specific book on the subject. In movie theaters, among aliens, zombies and mutated viruses, we also find Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots among those usually responsible for Armageddon. Media and pop culture contribute to many people seeing AI as a threat to humanity.

But, in fact, much of the fear in relation to Artificial Intelligence comes from ignorance and lack of information. Human beings fear the unknown, and when we talk about emerging technologies such as AI, it is natural to be afraid. One of the best ways to face this fear is to better understand how these technologies work and what their impact is on our lives.

It is impossible to deny the technological advancement of Artificial Intelligence technologies. They are present in many aspects of our daily lives. We move around big cities using AI logistic algorithms, we choose movies and products through recommendation algorithms, we validate accesses with biometric algorithms, we analyze images and diagnose diseases, we interact with conversational agents like Chatbots and we spend hours consuming content from social networks driven by algorithms . AI is already nearly ubiquitous in our lives.

However, contrary to apocalyptic visions, Artificial Intelligence has provided countless benefits to society. AI has been used to improve process efficiency, solve complex problems, support medicine and scientific research, and facilitate communication and access to information. While it is important to be aware of the potential risks and challenges associated with AI, it is also crucial to recognize its potential for positive transformation.

AI Hype: Performance, Democratization and Misunderstanding

In 2023, Artificial Intelligence is experiencing great hype, and this is due to recent technological innovations that directly impact the field of AI. Among these innovations, we highlight the Large Scale Language Models (LLM), such as ChatGPT, which have revolutionized the way we communicate with machines, and advances in Generative AI, which enable the creation of innovative and personalized content .

These emerging technologies are shaping the current scenario, amplifying the effect of three fundamental aspects: the increasing performance of AI, the democratization of access to these technologies and the inability of human understanding of the most advanced models. In this context, it is essential to explore each of these factors in detail in order to understand the influence of technological innovations in the AI ​​universe and in our lives.

New levels of performance

When it comes to AI performance, Large Scale Language Models (LLM) such as ChatGPT have reached new heights of efficiency and accuracy. These models are able to understand and generate texts with a high degree of cohesion and coherence, making the interaction between humans and machines increasingly natural. Furthermore, Generative AI such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) and Generative Predictive Diffusion Models (DDPM) have revolutionized the creation of realistic images and videos, while Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF) have enabled stunning 3D reconstructions to from 2D photos.

However, the increasing performance of AI also brings concerns about the possible risks and misuses of these technologies. For example, LLMs can be used to generate disinformation and manipulate public opinion, while Generative AI, such as GANs and DDPMs, can be used to create fake images and videos, so-called deepfakes, which can cause damage to reputation and security. of individuals and organizations. In the face of these threats, it is crucial to establish control and accountability mechanisms to prevent the malicious use of these technologies.

Artificial Intelligence for Everyone

The democratization of access to AI technologies is another crucial point, especially for the lay public. Chatbot interfaces, for example, have simplified the use of Large Scale Language Models, making interaction with these systems more accessible and friendly for all users. In addition, with the popularization of services and platforms based on SaaS (Software as a Service) and APIs, the costs of using AI technologies have become increasingly affordable. This allows a wider audience to benefit from these innovations, even without advanced technical knowledge.

While democratizing access to AI is beneficial to many, there are also concerns about the irresponsible and unsupervised use of these technologies. With more accessible tools and platforms, malicious individuals can use AI for nefarious purposes such as cyberattacks, privacy invasions, and even invasive surveillance. It is therefore important to ensure that democratized access to AI is accompanied by security measures and regulations that help prevent abuse and protect users.

Black Box Decisions

On the other hand, the inability of human understanding of the most advanced AI models, such as those based on Deep Learning, poses a challenge. These models, often called "black boxes", are complex and difficult to interpret, which can make it difficult to identify possible biases and failures. Research in XAI, which focuses on aspects such as explainability and interpretability of AI, seeks to address this issue in order to make models more transparent and understandable for humans.

Finally, the inability of human understanding of the most advanced AI models can lead to situations where machines make decisions without us being able to fully understand the reasons behind those choices. This can result in biased or unfair decisions, with negative impacts on sensitive areas such as finance, health and justice. In addition, the increasing autonomy of AIs can also raise concerns about the possibility of loss of human control over these technologies, with unpredictable consequences. Thus, it is essential that researchers and professionals in the field continue to work on understanding and improving AI models, ensuring that machines work together with human beings, respecting our values ​​and ethical principles.


A path to tread

Rather than fearing an AI-driven apocalypse, we need to focus on understanding these technologies and ensuring they are used responsibly and ethically. Advances in Artificial Intelligence have the potential to improve our quality of life, increase efficiency across industries, and open the door to incredible innovation. However, it is essential that we are aware of the challenges and work together to face them.

There is an important governance journey ahead, in which we must join efforts to build a promising future, making the most of the potential of AI technologies in solving intricate and complex problems such as hunger, environmental degradation, social well-being, among other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) still far from being achieved. This responsibility is not restricted to governments, but constitutes an agenda that involves all of society, including companies, non-governmental organizations, academics and ordinary citizens.

Artificial Intelligence is not necessarily a lurking apocalyptic villain, but a powerful tool that, if used correctly, can help us overcome obstacles and create a more prosperous and sustainable future. Understanding and exploiting these technologies will allow us to dispel fear and focus on the true potential of AI to positively transform our lives.


Alexander Del Rey

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About the author

Alexandre Del Rey
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Alexandre Del Rey

Conselheiro & Founder I2AI

Conselheiro fundador da I2AI – Associação Internacional de Inteligência Artificial. Também é sócio-fundador da Engrama, sócio da Startup Egronn, e na consultoria Advance e investidor na startup Agrointeli . Tem mais de 20 anos de experiência em multinacionais como Siemens, Eaton e Voith, com vivência em países e culturas tão diversas como Estados Unidos, Alemanha e China.
Palestrante internacional, professor, pesquisador, autor, empreendedor serial, e amante de tecnologia. É apaixonado pelo os temas de Estratégia, Inteligência Competitiva e Inovação.
É Doutor em Gestão da Inovação e Mestre em Redes Bayesianas (abordagem de IA) pela FEA-USP. É pós-graduado em Administração pela FGV e graduado em Engenharia Mecânica pela Unicamp.

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