AI Prospects

It hit me pretty quickly that what’s happening in the world of AI is not just an important topic, but by far THE most important topic for our future.
- Tim Urban, The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence, Wait But Why, January 22, 2015

The biggest concern is that we might one day create conscious machines: sentient beings with beliefs, desires and, most morally pressing, the capacity to suffer. Nothing seems to be stopping us from doing this. Philosophers and scientists remain uncertain about how consciousness emerges from the material world, but few doubt that it does. This suggests that the creation of conscious machines is possible.

Suppose, as many philosophers and scientists believe, that consciousness arises in a sufficiently complex system that processes information. There is no reason to think that such a system need be made of meat. Conscious minds are most likely platform-independent — ultimately the product of the right software. It seems only a matter of time before we either emulate the workings of the human brain in our computers or build conscious minds of another sort.
- Paul Bloom and Sam Harris, It’s Westworld. What’s Wrong With Cruelty to Robots?, NYT, April 23, 2018

It was a smart computer designed to protect a gravity-defiance machine from error. It lacks judgment and intuition, precisely because those human traits can sometimes be fatal in guiding an aerodynamic tube through the sky.
- Timothy Egan, The Deadly Soul of a New Machine, NYT, Dec. 7, 2018

Yoshua Bengio is worried that innovations in artificial intelligence that he helped pioneer could lead to a dark future, if “killer robots” get into the wrong hands. ...
Nevertheless, at a time when Facebook algorithms have come under criticism for their influence in the 2016 United States election and fears are growing that robots could use A.I. to target humans without human oversight, Dr. Bengio is acutely aware that his innovations risk becoming “Frankenstein’s monsters.” As a result, he said, he supports regulating A.I., including an international treaty banning “killer robots” or “lethal autonomous weapons.”

But he dismissed the “Terminator scenario” in which a machine, endowed with human emotions, turns on its creator. Machines, he stressed, do not have egos and human sentiments, and are not slaves who want to be freed. “We imagine our creations turning against us because we are projecting our psychology into the machines,” he said, calling it “ridiculous.”
- Dan Bilefsky, He Helped Create A.I. Now, He Worries About ‘Killer Robots.’, NYT, March 29, 2019

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