Thursday, July 27, 2017

Armageddon of Artificial Intelligence – Musk's Alpha and Omega of AI Doom?

Musk with obligatory Terminator - T3 (from Rise of the Machines)

When a tall dark handsome stranger tells you that artificial intelligence will kill you, you have to stop and listen.

After a chance encounter in an airport cafĂ© with an AI tech insider, I’m left wondering if I should put away my smart phone and tablet, and disengage from the net. Surely the technological Armageddon, that I often talk about can’t be that close? Can it?

Recently, Elon Musk, tech guru/SpaceX CEO/super-entrepreneur- reiterated his view that AI will lead to the destruction of the human race. How strange it was then to find myself having a similar conversation with someone intimately connected with the very subject.

Putting aside the fact that this rather good-looking be-suited individual ordered a milkshake and pizza in a gourmet establishment (sure sign of geek genius) I was enamoured enough to listen to what he had to say (in an Australian accent) and not just stare blankly into his dark eyes over my avocado salad.

I admit, I did at one point lose my faculties and start eating with my hands, while he spoke about computer learning, BOTS and predictive analytics. He mentioned the AI of the future destroying our lives, but much sooner than anyone expects. I thought of my own cognitive awareness, and how Terminator 2 Judgement Day is a great movie!
Drone Wars?
Seriously, not being very computer literate, I can still see the difference between programming a machine to do a task, and being able to use my own common sense and instinct to discover how something works, without the manual. Can machines do that yet?

 The fundamental question is, will robots replace us?

If robots become self-aware, and AI becomes an everyday living-breathing thing among us, will there come a time when the machines will decide to correct the errors they see around them…namely, in the best sci-fi tradition, humans and their many faults. This is when we’re in peril.

Perhaps Elon Musk et al are right afterall, we should regulate, and be proactive in the area of AI research. Control it before it controls us.

I’m always telling people how I remember school, and what we were taught about a future utopia of a three-day working week, plenty of leisure time, due to computers taking over all the menial tasks. Freeing us to enjoy our paradise life on earth… well obviously someone lied!
The idea of driverless cars is good, but I don’t want to forget how to drive a car. I also don’t want to get in the car and be told where I should be going. A drone delivering mail is okay, as long as it’s not recording me in my underwear in the garden. Furthering that, I don’t want it to monitor every time I’m in the garden, or in my underwear! 

The idea of writing a letter, or communicating with my own voice, is still preferable to sending an emoji, updating Facebook, or telling it with an instagram pic using a predictive text comment.

The other obvious one is... the Elites getting rid of all the workers who make everything for them, or the ‘assistants’ that do everything for them, or the soldiers that protect them… can they? What becomes of us if they do?

I’m not very good at building mechano robots, programming, or playing with code…. but I guess I could learn if I had to. What else will there be to do?

A fundamental risk to civilization!

Further reading on the subject...

UPDATE: 6th Aug 2017:  Terrestrial TV documentary to be shown tonight on UK BBC 2 "Secrets of Silicon Valley: The Disruptors" will feature a former tech executive who decided to go off-grid because of the rise of the machines and coming destruction! Link to be posted here tomorrow.