Sunday, April 27, 2014

Artificial Intelligence: the central question

AI in the hands of Goldman Sachs?
One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all. Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, Stuart Russell, Frank Wilczek
I am in the midst of reading, "Smart Machines", by John E. Kelly and Steve Hamm of IBM, which is basically a promotion of that multinational's "Watson" super computer....  And it all sounds so wonderful... The millennium has finally arrived and humanity will live happily ever after! 

I thought that kind of optimism about technological progress being linked to moral progress was fatally wounded in the trenches of World War One and breathed its last at Auschwitz or Hiroshima (take your pick).

And if the last, deregulated, post-Reagan years have taught us anything, especially the criminal fraud of the invasion of Iraq, followed by the recent and ongoing financial meltdown, it would be that the top of our increasingly oligarchical society is chockablock with shallow, psychopathic/sociopathic manipulators with no empathy for the rest of humanity or care for its general welfare.

Who could be so innocent as to believe that such an instrument as artificial intelligence will not fall into such hands?

If the 20th century taught us anything at all, it should be that we have no definite answer to "The Shadow's" famous question, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

However with the help of Artificial Intelligence we just might get the answer to that one. DS

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