With the advent of digitization, technology is driving business in all industries and shaping our future. New developments like Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and the Internet of Things are revolutionizing our everyday lives and reaching new heights of efficiency and innovation.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, stated that “today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution, but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one”. He believes this to be true for three main reasons: “velocity, scope, and systems impact.” No doubt, technology is changing our world at a rate that needs a stronger description than just “exponential.”

Artificial Intelligence is a major driving factor in this runaway train of innovation. In 2016, Stephen Hawking proclaimed that “humanity will not survive another 1,000 years on Earth because of the usual suspects such as climate change, nuclear war, and artificial intelligence.” While this new form of technology has proven to be extremely efficient in solving problems and opening doors to new levels of innovation, it is prudent to think about the costs of the same.

Is Mr. Hawking correct in saying that AI could lead to eventual extinction as a human race? Yes, it is definitely possible that we are relying too heavily on this technology, taking small steps down a path that leads to complete dependency. If we do not recognize what’s ahead and rethink the way we utilize AI, this technology can indeed lead us down a path of regression in terms of human knowledge and capability.

Excessive Reliance Leads to Regression

Technology is an ever-evolving organism, expanding into every crevice of modern-day life. From the business world and the entertainment sector to manufacturing and healthcare, there is not one industry that hasn’t been shaken up by technological invasion. It is safe to say that technology is effectively driving business in all industries.

AI capabilities allow employees across various industries to enter a few bits of data into relevant programs only to quickly receive detailed insights and results. However, this ease of access comes with a price, and begs the question “Is this increased efficiency really a gift?” Critics would respond with a resounding “no”; arguing that AI is, in fact, making us lazy and reducing our skills and knowledge as free-thinking and independent human beings. So much so that humans have begun to expect this “instant answer” lifestyle, leaving them completely flummoxed when god forbid, it isn’t available. In this regard, our developments in technology and AI may just be the catalyst to our intellectual degeneration and unwanted dependency.

The Cost of Replacing Humans

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the face of business as we know it, in turn reducing the need for human employees. To quote The Copper Project, “technologies are being developed that will allow the work process to continue without any human intervention.”

New technology is slowly taking over tasks like project management, finding information gaps and strategizing future campaigns. But can these human-trained programs be as dynamic and thoughtful as a human employee? AI and robots are developed to eliminate redundancies and human error, often minimizing the space for human creativity in the process. This depletion of human thought and creativity may result in a meaninglessness uniform pattern of projects, each one being carried out by the same robot and producing similar results that lack diversity.

The infiltration of AI into the web design world is a great example of its penchant for repetition and lack of authenticity. The differences and personalization of websites are usually a result of human thought and effort. However, when AI is given a larger role in terms of design, there is a risk that websites will come out looking the same; all based on the same generic AI-generated template with a few tweaks here and there.

Today’s AI technologies have been developed to gauge the intent of one’s website and choose appropriate colors, fonts, and layout according to the same. This raises the concern that since AI works off of patterns, the resulting outputs will be annoyingly similar in terms of interface and functionality. This concern is not unique to web development, but one that resonates across all industries.

Nitzan Achsaf, Head of Wix ADI aptly views AI as more of “a means-to-an-end and not the end.” We need to page out of Aschaf’s book and apply it to the general view of artificial intelligence in various sectors. Else, we are at the risk of an over-reliance on AI and a catastrophic end to knowledge development, creativity, and authenticity in all aspects of human life.