Fear of AI

This post is about the current climate surrounding AI.

So there has been a lot of reports in the press lately that AI is something to be wary of. Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and other luminaries have written an open letter setting out research priorities which they believe will ensure the maximisation of societal benefit. It is an understandable fear. Imagine a person who is extremely intelligent, whose cognitive skills grow with time and who doesn’t forget anything. That is in essence what we have in store with the development of AI. Would one be scared of such a person? I guess the answer depends on whether that person is friend or foe.

In nature, death is planned obsolescence. However strong a person or group of people are, there is comfort in knowing that they are all mortal and that there is hope in fighting such an entity. But an entity which is omniscient, that is hard to beat. Perhaps humanity will end up creating “God” – something which is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, which would be rather ironic after living in the fear of God for millennia.

What if Douglas Adams was right and humanity is but a part of a small experiment by an alien species far more powerful than us? I guess in that case there is not much to worry about. Let humanity not worry too much about the consequences of its actions because we are in a petri dish anyway – unless of course we are the experiment which goes awry and causes major destruction in our host’s world…

What if our world was created in the same way the worlds are “generated” in the game No Man’s Sky? Does this mean the “creationists” are right? Is it possible that in the same way that a virtual world can be simulated by a software program, that our world is the result of someone else’s creation? In which case evolution could just be an illusion. The aforementioned game only generates worlds in 2D, but a more sophisticated race could have the ability to generate an infinite number of 3D worlds, one of which is ours?

In any case, I don’t think we should fear AI any more than our ancestors probably feared fire when they first encountered it. If we are the ones developing it, we will also be the ones to figure out a way to keep it in check. The arms race between “good” and “bad” is a perpetual one with both sides winning and losing on a fairly regular basis.


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