In his post “Chatting to yourself” the point was made by Thor that Artificial Intelligence was well and truly on the cards for the future and being pursued by most of the large corporation in the technology area and needed watching.
This view is certainly one that is echoed by many of the insiders in the tech world including people like Steve Wozniak [Co-founder of Apple Computers] who said: “Computers are going to take over from humans”, Bill Gates said: “Within a few decades AI will be strong enough to be of concern”, Stephen Hawking [the Physicist] went one further and said: “AI could spell the end of the human race”.
Elon Musk, the head of the Tesla electric motor vehicle firm, said that he couldn’t understand why some people were not concerned. This in spite of the efforts going into the manufacture of driverless cars which one presumes will be run by one very sophisticated computer.
But then even Einstein (Is technology running too fast) warned us that “It has become appalling obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”, a slightly different take on the problem, but there is no doubt that there is a major contrast between technology and humanity. Aldous Huxley wrote that there is battle between the perfect world, the brave new world and the way we live today.
I may be a bit of a Luddite, yet I am also aware that the challenge to us all is to adapt because technology is so influential, and we may have underestimated its influence. The masses of devices we use are certainly stimulating, but also highly distracting. So how well are we controlling this force? Have we created something that is outshining our intelligence? Is technology changing how we think, feel or act?
I come back to the original post reference to AI with the scary scenarios of AI taking over. There is little doubt that such a scenario is possible and for that reason we ought to prepare the necessary controls to ensure that the higher intelligence is used for the good of mankind. One obvious problem for a superhuman AI would be to raise the necessary funds and then to design something that would actually be useful.
No doubt this kind of debate will go on in the foreseeable future and the safeguards needed do present a massive philosophical as well as technical challenge. Let’s hope that the risk from AI, which rests with the designers, the sponsors and the other humans of influence, is imbued with humanity and insight.