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Rescooped by Rafael Giraldo from Amazing Science

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities | Rafanews | Scoop.it

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FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities
Rescooped by Rafael Giraldo from Amazing Science

Is artificial intelligence really an existential threat to humanity?

Is artificial intelligence really an existential threat to humanity? | Rafanews | Scoop.it

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is an astonishing book with an alarming thesis: Intelligent machines are “quite possibly the most important and most daunting challenge humanity has ever faced.” In it, Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom, who has built his reputation on the study of “existential risk,” argues forcefully that artificial intelligence might be the most apocalyptic technology of all. With intellectual powers beyond human comprehension, he prognosticates, self-improving artificial intelligences could effortlessly enslave or destroy Homo sapiens if they so wished. While he expresses skepticism that such machines can be controlled, Bostrom claims that if we program the right “human-friendly” values into them, they will continue to uphold these virtues, no matter how powerful the machines become.

These views have found an eager audience. In August 2014, PayPal cofounder and electric car magnate Elon Musk tweeted “Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.” Bill Gates declared, “I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.” More ominously, legendary astrophysicist Stephen Hawking concurred: “I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Proving his concern went beyond mere rhetoric, Musk donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute “to support research aimed at keeping AI beneficial for humanity.”

Superintelligence is propounding a solution that will not work to a problem that probably does not exist, but Bostrom and Musk are right that now is the time to take the ethical and policy implications of artificial intelligence seriously. The extraordinary claim that machines can become so intelligent as to gain demonic powers requires extraordinary evidence, particularly since artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have struggled to create machines that show much evidence of intelligence at all. While these investigators’ ultimate goals have varied since the emergence of the discipline in the mid-1950s, the fundamental aim of AI has always been to create machines that demonstrate intelligent behavior, whether to better understand human cognition or to solve practical problems.

Some AI researchers even tried to create the self-improving reasoning machines Bostrom fears. Through decades of bitter experience, however, they learned not only that creating intelligence is more difficult than they initially expected, but also that it grows increasingly harder the smarter one tries to become. Bostrom’s concept of “superintelligence,” which he defines as “any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest,” builds upon similar discredited assumptions about the nature of thought that the pioneers of AI held decades ago. A summary of Bostrom’s arguments, contextualized in the history of artificial intelligence, demonstrates how this is so.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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