Brace yourself, humanity!

With rapid developments in artificial intelligence technology, academics and industry leaders are warning of the existential threat posed by autonomous AI systems. 

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates have all recently cautioned against developing AI entities that have ‘interests that conflict with that of homo sapiens’.

At the 2015 Zeitgeist conference in London last week, Hawking warned that “Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years.” “When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours”, he said.

“Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it”, he added.

Elon Musk fears that the development of artificial intelligence, or AI, may be the biggest existential threat humanity faces. And in a Reddit Q and A session earlier this year, Bill Gates said he was “in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence”.

For these thinkers, it is crucial that we have adequate regulatory oversight of artificial intelligence companies. Hawking has called for increased transparency from artificial intelligence development firms, so that we can ensure that AI never grows beyond humanity’s control.

Many tech leaders are sceptical about the possibility of developing autonomous AI machines.

A lead article in the Economist this month assayed the topic of AI, the author arguing that “even if the prospect of what Mr Hawking calls “full” AI is still distant, it is prudent for societies to plan for how to cope.”

That edition of the Economist also featured a useful article summarising the state of the art in AI research. There have been significant advances in machine learning, face recognition software and autonomous weapons systems, the result of a recent boom in investment in AI firms. But the technology is still quite nascent, the authors admit. There is not, at least not yet, “a ghost in the machine”. 

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | artificial intelligence, existential risk, robotics, Stephen Hawking, transhumanism

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

comments powered by Disqus