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 “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”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.