In his new book, Super Intelligence, Nick Bostrom, director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, issues a warning about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Huffington Post One of the problems lies with language which can been dangerously ambiguous. Tell a robot its mission is to make the human race happy and we may discover that our brains are jammed into pickle jars with electrodes plugged into our pleasure points. Another problem would be how to control an entity that is more intelligent than ourselves.
Bostrom isn’t the first to be concerned about AI but entrepreneurs don’t seem to be listening. Corporations like Google, Space X, Facebook, and Microsoft are in a race to control this revolution and once technology takes a lead, ethics can only haltingly follow.
I wish I knew Bostrom well enough to invite him for coffee, because I’m certain I could convince him his fears are irrational. Let him simply observe how well the human race has done so far. Not only are we killing the planet with carbon emissions, but we’re doing a good job of knocking ourselves off. too Last I read, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, was dusting off the notion of nuclear war. In that case, I doubt we’ll be around long enough to worry about cyborgs, daleks or any nightmarish master robots. About now, soaking in a vat of alcohol – make mine gin – with some strategically placed electrodes in my head looks like a pretty good life. Of course, the problem with AI, given our history, is that we’ll create robots too much like ourselves. Intelligence won’t be the problem but the lack of it.
If there is anyone on the planet brilliant enough to program a robot to understand our irrational minds, he or she doesn’t need AI. Imagine a person ingenious enough to teach a white robot the logic for hating a block robot. Imagine that he or she is brilliant enough to instruct a machine on how to lie, cheat or feel greed?
Frankly, I doubt a robot could ever be built that would understand us well enough to control us. Our secret weapon is our brains. With it we can espouse contradictory values and never be troubled by the disparity. We can believe war is the road to peace, that it’s sometimes necessary to be cruel to be kind, or that God is love but it’s okay to blow up someone who worships in a different church. You get my drift. None of our behavior computes. “And remember,” I’d say to Bostrom if we were lucky enough to meet, “humans carry the Ebola virus, not robots. “ Then I’d give his hand a comforting pat. “Nope, Nick. I wouldn’t worry about AI if I were you. If I were you, I’d look in the mirror and be afraid.”