Rarely does a two-letter combination spark our imagination more than AI.
Ray Kurzweil is the most vocal proponent of the many people who envisage super smart computers as being able to solve the most difficult questions and problems humanity has left to answer. To them, AI is akin to a God created by us humans. AI is one of the keys to Utopia.
On the other side of the spectrum, we also find people who consider AI to be the existential threat to the survival of the human species. Think Elon Musk; think Stephen Hawking.
So where on this spectrum will we end?
A moral call
The answer will not be found in technology. It will be found in the perspective which humanity brings to life itself. AI will be a reflection of our values and our maturity as a species. In that sense, it is up to us to decide how AI will evolve.
AI will only be a blessing to the extent that we as a species are able to “grow up” and be able to understand that our own well-being mainly lies in the well-being of others.
So where are we heading?
In an experiment at the School of Interactive Computing at the University of Georgia, scientists were able to “teach” robots to deceive and cheat each other. This wasn’t a pre-programmed strategy as such, because robots developed this diversion strategy themselves to ensure that they would win a game of “robo-hide and seek”. As cute as this may sound, things do get murky once you think about these diversion techniques in a military context.
What about compassion? It will come as no surprise that we have already been able to teach robots to be ruthless. In an eye-opening experiment by scientists at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, robots devised tactics to deceive each other.
The evolutions within the realm of AI are moving forward at a tremendous pace. Just recently, Google Brain was able to drive encryption to a point where we are unable to understand how the process works.
It is therefore imperative to dare to make a truly moral call to those developing this powerful technology. If we don’t, we just may end up in a Terminator-like wasteland.