Will Artificial Intelligence Be the End of Mankind?

Will Artificial Intelligence be the end of mankind? We should be worried, at least if the world’s smartest scholar, Stephen Hawking, is to be trusted. It is the speed of change that may unleash the Skynet-scenario, humans can’t change fast enough to keep up. We have heard similar concerns regarding job loss due to digitalisation, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt fretted over this in Davos earlier this year. Hawking seems to be a little more optimistic than Schmidt: the former says we should avoid unleashing sentient AI, whereas Schmidt rather urged society to deal with the consequences. The central question is “can we control technology?”. Hawking says yes, Schmidt no. Netopia sides with Hawking and points to its report Can We Make the Digital World Ethical?* which points to several ways people can take control over the technology. In fact, tech development is very much in the hands of people like Schmidt, except the notion that there should be some level of democratic influence on his company’s doings stands in the way of its business. Luckily, Stephen Hawking has some advice also to this point: “More must be done by the internet companies to counter the threat, but the difficulty is to do this without sacrificing freedom and privacy” (responding to a question on cyber-terrorism).

*) See also the video from the launch seminar where Cognitive Robotics-professor Murray Shanahan discusses a super-AI-scenario in detail