Can Artificial Intelligence Outsmart the Human Brain?

Back in October I read an article where the CEO of Tesla and of rocket-maker Space X, Elon Musk, affirmed that AI Artificial Intelligence is the “biggest existential threat” facing humanity. That made me ponder about a gloomy future for our race.

A few minutes ago, I was watching BBC News when that threat came back. I had to pick myself off the floor after hearing that. Here is what I heard: 

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

This is a quote by Prof Stephen Hawking, a world-famous theoretical Physicist and distinguished British scientist. You may remember him; he uses a basic form of AI system to speak, due to his motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

It was fascinating to watch him communicating his ideas with the help of technology; he uses a machine that learns how he thinks and suggests the words he might want to use next.

Obviously as a renowned scientist and user of AI for his own benefit, Prof Hawking is not doomsday preacher alarming the world. AI has helped solving world’s problems although its development is still at a very primitive stage, but is expected to become even more beneficial in many technological areas, which bring innovation to medicine and many other fields.

He worries though about the misuse of the AI, and above all, with how it could eventually be used to surpass humans. “It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate,” he said. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

After watching this interview, there came news on Ebola, Boko Haram attacks in Kenya, and the wars in Syria and Ukraine; the most touching being a special report about displaced Ukrainians, elderly and families with kids, living a few meters away from the rebels battlefield and the dangers it brings, coupled by cold temperatures, as the winter is drawing nearer.

The BBC cameraman focused on a little girl crying. The image of tears running from her scared face is now a featured image, in a sticky and sad post inside my head.

Sorry if this is sounding perhaps like a somber post…

What sticks to my mind is the thought that one of the major threats to human life has been human beings themselves.

As I humbly see it – AI may destroy the human race – if those who create, control and instruct it have no moral codes. Just as we see in the movies.

Human beings have proved so far capable of doing good and bad, with or without the help of Artificial Intelligence.

I’d rather expect – and not hope – that mankind stops destroying itself.

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate slave, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do, when I want.

24 thoughts on “Can Artificial Intelligence Outsmart the Human Brain?

  1. I don’t really have anything intelligent to say scientifically about AI but this I know based on reading endless SciFi YA books: artificial intelligence can, indeed, outsmart the human brain, and they can possibly have anything a human has except for one thing—a heart. Not the organ per se, but the ability to just feel (empathy for one). Then again, some people doesn’t seem to have one, and they’re not made by science.

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  2. A profund and thought provoking post Lucile. I can see that AI could well outsmart us and the prospect is terrifying. It is shocking to reflect on much we now already rely on technology without even realising it. We use it here to communicate, which is great, but it is becoming all pervasive. How many of us really ever have a holiday where we just sit alone on a rock, with a book and watch the waves? The last time I did that was in September 2004… And finally, my work involves building a bigger, faster and better (discuss) internet, the big new “thing” is the internet of things, machine to machine communication – ostensibly to facilitate better healthcare, energy efficiency, but are we putting in the plumbing for our nemesis?

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    1. You’re right Andy. I went on a cruise last year and it was the only time I’ve been completely “disconnected”. It was amazing! The only way I’ve found to completely and absolutely relax. (The piña coladas also helped 😉).
      I think AI could become a problem but also the benefits to the health industry are fantastic.

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    2. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzwei is concerned that it may be hard to write an algorithmic moral code strong enough to constrain and contain super-smart software.
      So AI may be our nemesis.
      We may not separate AI developments from human behavior. How it is affecting us and how it can change us. You very well mentioned our new pervasive habits.
      I’m a technology lover but not as much as I love nature. Tough to strike a balance though. It’s not bad to sit on the rock and have a smartphone with me, not only to make great pictures but call someone if I fall and need help. That’s the bright side of it.
      Become addicted and a slave of it, is the issue.
      Humans created technology and that has brought us tremendous advantages; unfortunately, Hawking is right to say that our biological system doesn’t evolve as fast as AI can.
      So, is the risk real? I don’t trust humans, so I think so.
      When some AI scientists code a smart computer program that then goes on to develop its smarter successors, then we might be written off as humans.
      Neil Jacobstein, AI and robotics co-chairman at California’s Singularity University said this:
      “I don’t think that ethical outcomes from AI come for free,” he said, adding that work now will significantly improve our chances of surviving the rise of rampant AI. What we must do, he said, is consider the consequences of what we were creating and prepare our societies and institutions for the sweeping changes that might arise.

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      1. A missed convergence earlier today.
        I fear the human factor also. Very much.
        And so many, with no understanding of the consequences, are eagerly lapping up all the technology and the increasing accumulation of personal data.
        And, when the machines take over and chat together, will they care about us?
        I think not.
        So. I fear.
        Greatly.

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  3. We think alike today. I just posted Charlie Chaplin’s speech about technology and I agree, it’ all in the hands of humans. And we can use it for good or for bad.

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  4. be in AI, or something else, I think that ultimately humans will spell the end of humans, you just have to look around you everyday to see how all sorts of screwed up human beings actually are.

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  5. If mankind can think it, it can happen. I read a lot of sci-fi and AI has been a popular subject with Isaac Asimov, Clark and Heinlein. If any are old enough to remember (or admit to watching) Star Trek in the late 60s, they had communicators resembling the old flip phone and devices that look just like tablets. Hmmm, science future? Hopefully the bad part of AI does not come to pass and destroy us.

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  6. I think everyone here is a little hard on the human race. Acts of love and kindness are displayed in families and communities around the every minute of the day. These things just don’t make it onto the evening news bulletins.

    The biggest problem with AI as I see it – is the militarisation of technology. Robots made for war is the real danger.

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