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As we teeter on the brink of another technological revolution—the artificial intelligence revolution—worry is growing that it might be our last. The fear is that the intelligence of machines will soon match or even exceed that of humans. They could turn against us and replace us as the dominant “life” form on earth. Our creations would become our overlords—or perhaps wipe us out altogether. Such dramatic scenarios, exciting though they might be to imagine, reflect a misunderstanding of AI. And they distract from the more mundane but far more likely risks posed by the technology in the near future, as well as from its most exciting benefits.

Takeover by AI has long been the stuff of science fiction. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL, the sentient computer controlling the operation of an interplanetary spaceship, turns on the crew in an act of self-preservation. In The Terminator, an Internet-like computer defense system called Skynet achieves self-awareness and initiates a nuclear war, obliterating much of humanity. This trope has, by now, been almost elevated to a natural law of science fiction: a sufficiently intelligent computer system will do whatever it must to survive, which will likely include achieving dominion over the human race.

To a neuroscientist, this line of reasoning is puzzling. There are plenty of risks of AI to worry about, including economic disruption, failures in life-critical applications and weaponization by bad actors. But the one that seems to worry people most is power-hungry robots deciding, of their own volition, to take over the world. Why would a sentient AI want to take over the world? It wouldn’t.

"It wouldn't?" What supreme arrogance. To read more, click here.
Category: Science