For a long time, there has been a fear in the human mind that computers will one day take over. You can see this in so many movies and video games over the last few decades. Maybe because it is the one technology we humans have conceived that has the potential to replace us. Elon Musk has said, “Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence.” Shane Legg who works with DeepMind has also said, “I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this.” But is AI really a bad thing or is it a good thing?
How can artificial intelligence benefit humans
Artificial intelligence is already in a lot of things and you may not even know it. Apple and Microsoft use AI in their digital assistants, Siri and Cortana. Facebook uses AI to target ads and tag faces on images. Google uses AI for fighting spam, in its search engine and a whole host of other things. There is also already home AI like Amazon Alexa. We even have AI that helps with spell checking.
Then there is the more advanced stuff that is not mainstream yet like AI driving Cars, Tractor trailers, airplanes and an AI controlled robot called Sophia.
Right now artificial intelligence is just a tool that will do what it is programmed to do. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. It has been very helpful and could be a grate benefit to us in the future. Maybe even finding ways to cure diseases that we have been unable to cure at this point. But it is the push for artificial superintelligence that has some people worried.
5-9-2018 Update: Google announced its new AI assistant called Google Duplex and gave a demo. It has a realistic male and female voice. It can also make calls and talk to real people to schedule appointments with you.
The risks of artificial intelligence
The bad thing is AI will most likely replace more and more jobs as it becomes more advanced. In the past, as technology replaced jobs there was always new jobs created but this may be the first time in history where that is not the case. Or we do not see new jobs yet. Part of the fear people have could be from the fact that we do not know how to position ourselves for the future.
Another fear is what will happen when AI makes it to human-level intelligence and independents. A slow interface to the outside world limits what the human brain can do. Typing or talking into a computer, Reading text from a screen, etcetera. But a computer AI could have no such limitation. So, would an artificial superintelligence deem us obsolete? Then what?
“Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer – and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.” – Ayn Rand
If AI makes it to human-level intelligence and independents, then we could be in trouble. With Elon Musk, Stephen Hawkings, and Bill Gates all trying to warn us about A.I. then maybe there is something to those concerns?
What would bad AI do?
You don’t have to look hard to see examples in science fiction of what an AI could do. But It may not even be anything like what a lot of science fiction movies and video games have shown us. An AI with a simple harmless task could doom the human race. Something like this paper clip game were a self-improving AI just wants to make paper clips until it turns all matter in the universe into paper clips. If all it wants to do is make paper clips then at some point there is no more room for humans.
I have also heard theories about artificial intelligence being related to the coming of the antichrist. That its use could fulfilled prophecies in the book of Revelations. I have no idea about that, but it is an interesting thought.
The A.I. arms race.
No matter if you think it is good or bad there is already somewhat of an arms race that has no signs of stopping. But this time it is not to go to the moon or for nuclear weapons. This time it is for something even more powerful than a nuke. This time it is a super artificial intelligence. Whatever country and or business has the first super artificial intelligence will have a major advantage over everyone else. Assuming a super artificial intelligence can be controlled in the first place and if this A.I. can be controlled will the people controlling it be on the side of good?
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely – Lord Acton
Elon Musk is one of the major figures in AI news. He has started a company called OpenAI. But why would Elon Musk make an AI company when he is against AI? Well, I guess he is not fully against it he just wants it to be safe. OpenAI is his attempt to make AI technology accessible and open to the world instead of it being closed off to only a particular company or nation. On top of that, the hope is that with OpenAI the world can develop safe artificial general intelligence. By being a leader in the field maybe they can influence the way AI is made.
So what does the future hold?
No one can say for sure. One thing we know is that AI development is unlikely to stop. But I tend to take Elon Musk’s side. Proceed with caution. Maybe there is nothing to it but I think it is always better to play it safe until we know and understand more.