Though still at its infancy stage, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is eliciting much enthusiasm from many people. I mean, who would not want to be driven around in a self-driving, live in a self-cleaning house, and get every other aspect of your life managed by a digital assistant?
The prospects of becoming lazier (or is it laziest?) have got a lot of us excited about AI. However, on the flip side, it also promises a lot of economic benefits; self-driving taxis, cargo transportation will operate around the clock among other economically useful ways AI can be used.
Cynicism on Artificial Intelligence
The Physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking is cynical about AI development. He believes nothing but trouble is brewing up at the tech hubs across the Silicon Valley. He believes that although Artificial Intelligence is currently disguised as a helpful digital assistant and helping us with autonomous works like self-driving car and all.
Once it gains a foothold in our society, it could betray us and lead to our extinction. Hawking warns that AI and robotics could evolve faster than human beings could, and their goals and mission for existence will be unpredictable.
Hawking was speaking at the Larry King Now show, where he expressed his fears on AI development if safeguards are not put in place. He said:
“I don’t think advances in Artificial Intelligence will necessarily be benign. Once machines reach a critical stage of being able to evolve themselves we cannot predict whether their goals will be the same as ours.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to evolve faster that the human race. We need to ensure AI is designed ethically, with safeguards in place.”
The Physicist was being interviewed from the Canary Islands, as he was being honored at the Starmus Festival, a program geared towards making science accessible to all in the public domain.
Humans limited to Biological Evolution
That was not the first occasion Hawking has warned about the unchecked development of AI. Back in 2014 while speaking to BBC, he said:
“The development of full Artificial Intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”
Earlier this year said that while success in developing AI “would be the biggest event in human history, (but) unfortunately, it might also be the last.”
According to Hawing that Siri and Google Now on your smartphones and Cortana on your PC are just early symptoms of AI arms race, and is just a tip of a sinister iceberg coming in a few decades’ time.
In his interview with Larry King back in 2010, Hawking pointed out that the greatest threat to humanity besides just AI was our weaknesses. He said human greed and stupidity to be the biggest danger humankind face.
On Humans’ Greed and Stupidity
“We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid. Six years ago, I was warning about pollution and overcrowding. They have gotten worse since then.” At this rate, it will be 11 billion by 2100. Air pollution has increased over the past five years.”
If you think, Hawking is paranoid! Well, he is not alone. Tesla founder Elon Musk has referred to AI development as “summoning the demon”. Musk warns that one-day technology could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons.