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.