Artificial Intelligence Means Goodbye Human Race

Artificial Intelligence Means Goodbye Human Race?

Does the advent of super smart artificial intelligence mean that mere mortals will have to say goodbye to the human race? That is the potential prediction of Elon Musk, a technology leader who owns Tesla Motors. Musk has been vocal in raising his concerns about AI, and over the weekend he told the Twitterverse that AI could be “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” While many dismiss his concerns as the fruits of “someone who watches too much science fiction,” others are taking his statements seriously.

Earlier this year, Stephen Hawking gave a stern warning about AI as well, saying that successfully creating a computer than can outsmart humans “may be the last” move that mortals ever make. He has spoken on numerous occasions about the dangers of such an intelligence, and seemed to indicate that very little is being done to mitigate the potential risks of future AI technologies. He has also questioned whether humans would be able to control any artificial intelligence that might spring into existence.

Musk’s tweets over the weekend most likely have Neo Luddites shaking in their shoes with terror, as he said that it is “increasingly probable” that humans could become nothing more than “biological boot loader” for machines that can think for themselves. This prediction, many feel, is disconcerting, to say the least. Previously, Musk had said that a scenario for humans similar to the movie Terminator could be possible if people–especially the people who are involved in building computers that mimic the human brain–do not take precautions. 

Complicating the matter is the flip side of the debate. Few would argue that AI technology holds exciting potential for human expansion, a greatly increased quality of life via medical breakthroughs, and an extensive list of additional benefits. Author and futurist Zoltan Istvan says that a more pressing concern is that humans get on board with the coming singularity–the moment in time when machine intelligence supersedes human intelligence and then explodes exponentially. Istvan explains:

The coming of artificial intelligence will likely be the most significant event in the history of the human species. Of course, it can go badly, as Elon Musk warned recently. However, it can just as well catapult our species to new and unimaginable transhumanist heights. Within a few months of the launch of artificial intelligence, expect nearly every science and technology book to be completely rewritten with new ideas–better and far more complex ideas. Expect a new era of learning and advanced life for our species. The key, of course, is not to let artificial intelligence run wild and out of sight, but to already be cyborgs and part machines ourselves, so that we can plug right into it wherever it leads. Then no matter what happens, we are along for the ride. After all, we don’t want to miss the Singularity.

Istvan has written a novel called The Transhumanist Wager. The book explores what will happen if futurists and transhumanists have their way and is an important book for those who are interested in learning more about AI. It is, of course, science fiction at this point, but history has already taught us that science fiction becomes reality more often than not.

Will artificial intelligence mean we have to say goodbye to the human race? No one knows for sure. However, the realization that many people currently alive will most likely be around to find out the answer is at once anxiety-producing and thrilling for many who are aware that we are on a trajectory toward building machines that can think for themselves.

Article last modified: August 4th, 2014 by Dave Schwartz

7 Responses

  1. Stephen Kagan at |

    While the Transhumanist Wager has a lot of interesting things to say about Transhumanism and raises some vital questions in that arena, it actually has little to say about Artificial Intelligence.

    Reply
  2. Brad Arnold at |

    The emergence of ASI (artificial super intelligence) is a dual-use technology – like nanotechnology, the genomic revolution, the atomic revolution, and even 3D printing. Frankly, what Musk said was just stating the obvious.

    Reply
  3. old man crowe at |

    What is over looked in the discussion of artificial intelligence, is the exclusion of what natural intelligence is. As its assumed that organic based intelligence, as opposed to digitally based intelligence is natural. However, that is only true in regards to people who still live in a close and dependent relationship with nature. The ‘intelligence’ that modern humans use to navigate and manipulate the environments that we live in is for all intents and purposes – artificial. We live in artificially constructed structures, artificially controlled to mitigate the influences of weather and climate, the social, economic and political structures that we relate to one another and the world through are all artificially created and generally theoretical, rather than natural. In this respect, what is meant by AI – is the means to transfer our present state artificial sense of self – a sense of self that is basically a cultural construct – to a computer based format. It is simply a continuation of the de-evolution of the beingness of self – to the separated ego identity to the coming (for the few) digitally augmented identity. The author of the above article refers to the human race – and its possible discontinuance – as if it were a retro form of footwear, as something that was once in style, but that may soon be out of fashion. Proving once again that the disconnect between a true understanding of the human condition and futuristic fantasies is more unplugged than ever.

    Reply
  4. Lian Balan at |

    I think it is just like with guns – GUNS doesn’t kill people. PEOPLE kill people, of course, using guns. How – who will design AI? Probably the answer to these questions can give us some idea about the future of the human race.

    Reply
  5. mfearing at |

    Dinosaurs were no more able to stop the asteroid from hitting Earth as we will be able to stop what technology spawns. Maybe that’s the only reason we are here – to create that the thing that comes After.

    Reply
  6. Christopher Keff at |

    The concept to build something that can become self aware with the ability of worldwide connectivity is our next step in technical evolution. As Hawking’s stern warning goes, I would have to agree. There must be a protective concept put in place. It is difficult to write protective software for something that can re-write it tho. With connectivity via I-Net, even a hardline disconnect becomes difficult. I guess we shall see!

    Reply
  7. haridasmore at |

    Yes , its going to happen . No one will have control on it. just wait. its coming.

    Reply

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