A few thoughts on AI

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True artificial intelligence has long been the realm of science fiction. But as we continue to make strides in computer technology, the possibility of true AI is increasingly closer to becoming a reality. Indeed, if you believe some experts, we’re only decades away from creating a true artificial intelligence. Ray Kurzweil has predicted that within the next 15 years it’ll happen, and that within the next 30 years computers will be more powerful than all the brains on the planet combined. So why am I thinking about this?

We are “summoning a demon.”

Those are Elon Musk’s words about AI recently. While I don’t necessarily feel that AI will go all SkyNet and send terminators to kill all the obsolete humans, I do think that AI represents a sort of existential threat to humanity. It all has to do with what it means to be human in the first place.

If a machine can do everything just as well or better than a human–including inventing and creating–then of what use am I? What good would all my thinking and creating be if a machine is just going to beat me to it or even do it better than me? This, to me anyway, is a philosophical intrusion on my humanity.

Because regardless of age or philosophy, I think most of us would agree that as human beings, we seek to improve ourselves, to improve the world around us. That’s why we explore, that’s why we innovate, that’s why we go to school. When we create something new, we’re not only bettering the world, but we’re enriching ourselves. We’re expanding our thinking and beliefs and personally growing.

But what of all that if machines do it for us? Faster than us? Better than us? I worry that we would lose that which makes us human. That in a world with true AI, humans simply wouldn’t have anything to do.

Perhaps just because we can do something doesn’t mean we ought to do it.

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6 thoughts on “A few thoughts on AI

  1. So let’s say we have no AI, but we explore space one day and suddenly we come across of group of intelligent beings far advanced. Such that they are smarter and can do everything better? Do we lose value then? Do we as humans need to be superior? Is this also a part of humanity? Some might say our conceit is. For many problems that I try to solve, I am sure I could find someone smarter than me to solve it faster and correctly. For any trip I go on, I am sure I could instead sit home and look at a myriad of images of my destination on the internet instead. There are many others who can play racquetball better than me, but I still like to play it. I think for many with the creative drive, the desire to invent, solve problems, may still be something that we want to do as humans, and just because an AI can do it, doesn’t mean that we will necessarily take advantage of that capability. Hey if this AI wishes for a co-existence with us, then as a more intelligent being, it should know that giving us all the answers isn’t beneficial to our race, so maybe it would simply help us instead of doing things for us. I agree that it can have frightening consequences and this is another one of those things, we’re people need to do some thinking, and negotiate the line between “can we?” and “should we?”

    1. Interesting thought experiment…I shall have to ponder that one.

      I suppose that if we truly had self aware and sentient machines that they might choose not to serve us. And then we get into an ethical debacle about whether or not it’s truly life and therefore has rights…something tells me that ad a species we aren’t ready for AI one way or the other.

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