Though it might not be what you think. Representatives from Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and IBM have created a committee to tackle important ethical issues around the rise of AI — they just won’t be talking about Skynet anytime soon.
Superintelligent AI may become a thing. If you don’t know much about how it’ll come to be, I highly recommend this fascinating explainer. A big majority of experts think it’ll happen within the next 75 years, and high-profile minds in tech have been calling for us to start thinking about the ethics surrounding the issue. It’s just just a problem for human morality, it’s also a problem of programming — how would you program this superintelligent AI so that it won’t harm us? How do you program your own creation, destined to become smarter than you can fathom, so that it doesn’t limit your progress morally, mentally, and otherwise?
The time will come when these questions have to be answered. But this committee, if it’s still around, will cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, it’s concentrating on the more pressing matters of self-driving cars, the effect of AI making humans unnecessary for certain jobs, and maybe down the line a little bit of cyber warfare and automated drones, just to keep things exciting.
Of course, the committee has no real authority and hasn’t entered into any binding agreements — it just started. But it’s a good thing these things are on the radar. If/when a superintelligent AI does rise, one of humanity’s primary concerns is that it will have been created by an entity without everyone’s best interests in mind. A neglectful government, perhaps, or a private military contractor. It may be important for corporate committees like this to start us thinking down that road, and the Facebooks and Googles of the world are the best placed entities to pioneer this field. Their access to billions of users constantly training their GPU farms of AI to better and better recognise whether your photo is a banana or just a long, yellow stick is currently at the forefront of AI.
For the immediate future, though, while its purview isn’t yet defined, this committee will likely focus on the safety concerns surrounding your next Uber driver being ones and zeroes. I wonder if it’ll be just as chatty. [New York Times]
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