Ask yourself – what do Bill Gates, Steven Hawking and Elon Musk all have in common? Recently they have all questioned the relentless pursuit of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by scientists. Artificial intelligence..the ability of machines to think for themselves was once fiction but increasingly with rapid evolutions of technology we may be closer to that reality than we think.
The question that people like Gates, Musk, Hawking and others are asking is, just because we CAN do it….should we? Have we given enough thought to what the long term implications of having machines that can ‘think’ will do to us as humans? Certainly we have all seen dystopian films such as Terminator and I-Robot where machines begin to rule mankind. Could this happen? It may be fiction, but fiction has a tendency to become fact as any reader of Jules Verne can attest to.
Some people believe we should at least consider the implications before we rush headlong into whatever the future holds. Hawking is quoted as saying “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race…humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.” Gates has said that “I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence…First, the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern.” Musk is quoted as saying that AI is “…our biggest existential threat as a species and that toying with AI is akin to summoning the demon.” Their concerns were reflected by a distinguished group of scientists who, as reported in recent news articles, put their worries in the public forum with an “…open letter, drafted by the Future of Life Institute and signed by hundreds of academics and technologists, calls on the artificial intelligence science community to not only invest in research into making good decisions and plans for the future, but to also thoroughly check how those advances might affect society”.
These are alarm bells being sounded by some very distinguished people. Perhaps we should at least listen to them before we head down a path from which there may be no return.