Why AI doesn’t scare me

Tripod Machine
The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one…

You may have heard about a letter going about where a lot of people say they’re scared of AI and autonomous weapons. There are some very interesting signatories on the list. As someone who studied AI, and knows a couple of people on that list from my course, the letter interested me greatly.

I’ll discuss the implications of autonomous weapons in a future post, but a lot of the reporting and comments about the letter talked about fear of AI itself. As if smarter machines in and of themselves are the greater threat to humanity, without considering whether or not these smarter machines are designed to kill. This fear appears to be unrelated to whether the machines are smarter than us, just about being smart enough to be a threat (although I want to discuss the singularity in a later post too).

Perhaps for a small minority, the fear comes from the same place as fear of other humans. The ignorance breeding fear that someone or something smarter or different from you will be threat to your way of life, or your life itself. There’s legitimate fears within that, linked back through history to the luddites whose jobs were at risk from automated machines.

It’s clear that jobs will replace humans with machines, and the better machines get, the further up the pay scale the threat will come, just as globalization pushed low paid jobs to other countries. It’s a real problem that needs to be addressed politically via training, diversification of the economy, and other tactics, but I don’t want this to be a political blog, so decide for yourself how jobs can be created.

If your fear comes from not being the smartest person in the room – get over yourself. Success builds on success, and humanity’s greatest achievements have come from those who stand on the shoulders of giants. These days, these may be iron giants. AI that is smarter than us already exists, machines are better than us at Chess, Jeopardy, code breaking, and calculating Sine tables.

AI is already all around us – it does fraud detection, voice recognition and a bunch of other things – Once it works, it’s not AI any more (as .Net Rocks reiterates), and it will get better.

If you want to know more, the following article and video are definitely worth a look.

<How safe is AI : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34249500 >

<How smart is today’s AI : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poLZqn2_dv4 >

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