While Elon Musk warned of spam-destroying robots might decide to kill off the source of spam: human beings…probably in Nigeria first 🙂 …now honoured physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has made a similar warning about Artificial Intelligence (AI).
“The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” said Hawking in an interview with the BBC in December. Gulp.
Hawking warns that artificial intelligence would begin a programme of self-improvement to the point where it could out-run human ingenuity and intelligence. Hawking also warned of the danger of putting too many key life sustaining and policing systems in the hands of such AI units.
Such warnings come from both science fiction e.g. I, Robot, Terminator etc. which note AI may yet go beyond pure logic to the not-so-good human traits of pride, jealousy and ruthlessness. The endpoint is that the AI or robot concerned believes itself to be so much better than humans who not deserve to survive. This was famously portrayed in the film “2001 – A Space Odyssey” (1968) when the fictional HAL 9000 computer decides that, for the good of the mission, the human crew has to die.
Your fretful correspondent now realises he really must raise his game next time he plays computer chess or he just might be deemed as not being a worthy enough opponent by the computer to carry on living! Gulp!
Update 30 January 2015: Elon Musk has been reported (by NBC) to have awarded US$10 million to the Future of Life Institute to research how mankind can benefit and not be harmed by the rise of AI. Meantime, Microsoft billionaire, Bill Gates, has publicly echoed the concern of Elon Musk over the potential of AI to harm mankind.