Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) Turn on its Creator?

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 5th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/27yuav7t/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Is the creation of AI the greatest achievement of humankind or the opening prelude to its downfall? Some say there can only be one intelligent species on any planet and that an artificial intelligence represents the end of the road for an intelligent biological species.

Downfall or Greatest Achievement?

Could artificial intelligence (AI) be the pinnacle of human development or the cause of its downfall. Expert opinion seems to be divided on this matter

According to Elon Musk Artificial Intelligence is "potentially more dangerous than nukes" and there is a general fear that the development of a fully functional AI will bring an end to the human race, what they fear is super-intelligence — when the technology outsmarts people, but will this ever happen? Are software companies and venture capitalists courting disaster by helping to set-up such super intelligence or is it something that will always be contained inside a box?

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak asks "If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they'll think faster than us and they'll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently." Of course it is valid to question the future of computing, it is valid to use machines for rapid computation and many of the programs we use around the world today are empowering computation, some taking equations that take years to process manually to process them in seconds, but the question is not one of standard programming for complex tasks, but programs that teach themselves to re-program themselves which makes them more efficient and more powerful. But AI is beyond a program that reprograms itself for added efficiency it is about real intelligence, resolving Turing's challenge, having a computer become a real intelligence, The Turing test is limited to the ability of a computer to hold a conversation with a person and that person not know whether they are talking to a machine or another person.

The Ethics of the Machine

Surely, creating standards for the AI industry would ensure that no machine oversteps its bounds, for example in establishing the ethics and limitations of self-driving cars to ensure above all people are not hurt. In many respects this is somewhat akin to Asimov's three laws of robotics which guarantee no robot shall harm a human being, they must obey orders given by human beings and they should protect their own existence as long as this doesn't conflict with first and second laws. Yet such laws are easily written in English and arguably not so easily put into machine code and with as many as 170 start-ups were actively pursuing AI at the current time it is unlikely all will define such ethical boundaries in quite the same way.

Sadly science fiction is rich with stories demonstrating doomsday scenarios, brought on by any idea from the mad scientist ruling the world to that of robots going far beyond their original mission and making the decision to destroy mankind in the process. Such stories make good money in the cinema, but do they represent the truth? It is valid to ask whether fear is confusing the public and potentially turning away investors and researchers from this field of development.

It is argued that at the current time one of the most urgent task for the AI developers is addressing the branding challenge (defining how intelligent devices function and interact with people), not simply the technological one of building the thinking super-computer. One of the challenges a machine faces is the human need for survival, from a computer perspective a regular memory dumps are possible, making it possible to understand what went wrong after the event, but that of course fails to understand the fact that humans only have one life and wish to live that to the fullest extent possible. The man's need to live means they can, when necessary, take amazing steps or actions in order to survive - taking the place of the final "else clause" the programmer failed to identify correctly.

Science fact is likely to be much different to science fiction,

Developing Human Intelligence

The other side to this discussion is the way in which humans themselves are developing their own cognitive power. There is little doubt that the average IQ today is far higher than it was a century ago. One vision for a utopian future is one in which humans can transcend the physical limitations of their own bodies and brains with the aid of machines, in other words we transcend biology, creating an ability for humans and machines to meld minds, thus true AI has a partially human content.

In some respects if I could make a computer understand the things I know, think the way that I do then it could continue my life (albeit limited to the electronic plane) after my death, making me immortal through the aid of a machine.

Today the computer may trounce the best chess or Jeopardy player and perform other specialized tasks, repeating the process ad nauseam, but that is not about thinking or processing the best method to take, it requires common sense, language and intuition about how the physical world works and how it needs to interact with it. Perhaps it is more logical to consider the possibility that people can be upgraded with cybernetic parts, to enhance our capabilities, the replacement stops your arm or leg from continuing to ache from the ongoing effects of arthritis.

Smarter than Humans?

Ray Kurzweil, Google's director of engineering believes that by 2029 computers will be cleverer than humans. Today Google is devoted to organising and processing the information that is being put on-line, which includes thousands of scientific and academic articles, not to mention works by journalists and on-line writers. At some point Google will be able to process this mass of knowledge and bring it together in a way that gives an almost 360 degree view of any point in time/space.

Being smarter than humans does not mean that computers are infallible, the logic of their programming may still be flawed, there are bugs even in AI programs.

Trouble is there are of course many miss-truths in history and probably far more articles that represent only half guesses or intuitive thoughts about recorded events, will the AI be able to sort them out and distinguish reality from fiction?

When will Robots Rule the Earth?

This still leaves the open question of "when are robots going to take over the world and become our masters?"

I believe the answer is "never!", one thing has been true over the past 40 years applications that help increase productivity have been increasingly used in the world today, robots can build any product faster, more efficiently, and at significantly less cost than can any human. These machines are significantly smarter than the iRobot Roomba, that plots its merry path around your living room cleaning up the dust, but little Roomba fulfils its task and does it very well, we also have other intelligent machines around the home already, performing their own tasks with great efficiency, but are unlikely to see the type of robotic servant that was written about by the great Mr Asimov.

The challenge society as a whole faces is how to re-organise how humans spend their time and develop their culture and civilisation to new heights that leaves to automatons those things no human wants to do while reaping the benefits through enhancements in society.

Picture Credits

  • Elon Musk
  • 3 Laws of Robotics by Asimov
  • Human Choices
  • Smart machines by timeslive.co.za
  • Robot Ruler by @urinalrobot (twitter)

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Tags

Artificial Intelligence, Develop Culture, Ethics Of The Machine, Greatest Achievement, Humans, More Efficiently, Prelude To Downfall, Real Intelligence, Run Companies, Science Fact, Science Fiction, Transcend Physical Limitations

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar snerfu
7th May 2015 (#)

That prospect sounds frightening. When we are threatened by robots, guess we just have to "lie back and take it." Progress comes at a very dear price. The question here should be, "Is Kingston Town down this road?"

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author avatar Retired
7th May 2015 (#)

For such a scenario to come to pass, something of the complexity of the human brain would have to be developed.

At present, science is able to produce an exact replica of the nervous system of a nematode worm - but has not as yet managed to replicate the intelligence of anything more complex than that!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th May 2015 (#)

AI is developing along a different path to Asimovian robotics. Today the brain (cognitive part) of the machine is developing far faster than any body parts.

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author avatar Ptrikha
7th May 2015 (#)

It is a complex question- Artificial Intelligence may lead some of the Robotic machines to perform undesired things, but my guess is humans are much more cunning and would be able to have things in control pretty fast.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th May 2015 (#)

Ptrikha, yes it is a complex question - today we control the machines and we must make sure it stays that way.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
7th May 2015 (#)

I think the real danger will still be from the evil among us to manipulate artificial intelligence to hold the majority to ransom. Positive spin-offs are welcome though, but, like in all technology, they cut both ways.

I feel we are slowly crossing the line from being humans, as we know, to becoming robotic without much feelings; I see more are getting lost with their gadgets held close to their chest, Nothing else matters to them - siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th May 2015 (#)

So Siva, as per the gun, it is not the machine itself that is evil, but those that use it.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
8th May 2015 (#)

Yes Peter, I have read about the Second Amendment; the discussions thereon generate more heat than light! siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th May 2015 (#)

Siva, it could be argued that it is only intransigence of the members of the US Supreme Court that has not allowed this amendment to be limited in the way that others have been over time.

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author avatar writershirley lopez
8th May 2015 (#)

Known to be a heated subject. But one that should be discussed good work.

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author avatar Abdul Batin Bey
21st Jun 2015 (#)

I'm of the mind that they will rise just watch the Terminator Movies and Matrix, they may use us as pets or batteries or just kill us all. sooner or later they will be able to learn and adapt by themselves.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
21st Jun 2015 (#)

Abdul, I respectfully disagree and have soon those films. I believe we have one thing a machine does not - life and we will cling onto that dearly.

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