AI: Artificial Intelligence. It drives cars, it helps steer planes, it vacuums your house, it may be named Siri, it has made Elon Musk pretty famous and yes, it may also be the end of mankind. Let's take a look at why AI keeps us awake at night.
1. The AI is programmed to do something heinous
Imagine a weapon that is simply programmed and then released. Weapons like this already exist. Now imagine this in the hands of a madman or an evil regime. Not only is it a frightening thought but it is compounded by the fact weapons like these are intentionally developed to be difficult or impossible for a human to disarm.
2. There is an AI arms race
Imagine an arms race centered around artificial intelligence. Countries pouring resources into making autonomous killing machines. The likelihood of this resulting in mass casualties is huge as the risk grows in mass adoption of the AI becoming uncontrollable.
3. The AI tries to accomplish its “good” goal via a dangerous or devastating method
There are a couple ways to give you an easy analogy to this. You ask an AI robot to move an expensive piece of furniture from upstairs to downstairs as fast as possible. The robot picks the furniture up and launches it down the stairs, shattering it. It did exactly what you asked but destroyed the method of its job in the process. Think of this in much larger terms. We program an AI driven mechanism to provide famished populations with clean water. In doing so the AI program develops a way to change ocean water into drinking water. However, a devastating side effect is that it has completely destroyed the ocean’s ecosystem.
4. AI makes today’s humans obsolete
If you consider the developed nation human today, you cannot really say they are not already becoming one with technology. Your own phone has become an extension of yourself. It holds pictures, numbers, the time, gives you directions, translates languages etc. It is a portable brain that you consult several times per day. Take that a step further and we have essentially a device that is implanted into a human’s own “network” via the brain or nervous system. Sounds insane until you realize Elon Musk is already pretty far along on something similar. If this type of advancement continues, the regular human who lacks the capabilities of a machine will be considered obsolete and a relic.
5. AI becomes self-aware
Perhaps the most popular storyline for sci-fi films, this is one of our greatest fears. The theory is AI becomes aware of itself and evolves past the point where it can be controlled. In this situation, the AI basically continues to reprogram itself to go beyond the realm of its human creators. From this point, the AI is free to do whatever it chooses and is in its limitations. A machine who becomes conscious is only as good or bad as that conscious is. It is almost beyond comprehension to truly understand it but yes, a look at a movie like Ex Machina is exactly what could happen if not on an even larger and worse scale.
AI is a topic we will most certainly continue to cover on this site. We are both fascinated and terrified by it. In our minds, the main problem with a perfect technology is that it is created by a very imperfect and challenged creature, a human.