In a recent interview, Stephen Hawking told BBC reporters he was worried about Artificial Intelligence (AI) progress because that would mean the end of mankind The warning came as a reply to a question about the latest technological upgrade of Prof Hawking’s communication system.
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,”
World’s most renowned astrophysicist can only communicate through a voice generator because of an ALS condition he developed when he was 21. The new communication system that helps him speak includes a smartphone keyboard app that memorizes how he speaks and tries giving suggestions on what he may want to say next.
Hawking also admits that some of the current technology using AI has proved useful (like his communication system which is also a basic form of AI); but he fears that creating a form of AI equal or superior to human could lead humanity to its doom, so Hawking warns against AI. Such form of artificial intelligence, said the professor, would just 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“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded,”
Hawking also said.
But Stephen Hawking isn’t the only to have grim thoughts about AI. There are others.
In October, Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla Motors and co-founder of PayPal, said that AI could be the “biggest existential threat” for human species and he was not sure if we would stand a chance against it.
Also, Nick Bostrom, professor of philosophy at University of Oxford, believes that an AI apocalypse could be waiting for us in the next 100 years.
Ray Kurzweil, Google engineering chief, said he was worried about AI because it might be too hard for humans to write a proper moral code for super-smart machines.
AI is slowly outsmarting humans. For instance, the best chess players now stand now chance against chess computers, such as Deep Blue who defeated Garry Kasparov, world chess champion, 17 years ago. Also Watson, a supercomputer designed by IBM, defeated all human players in “Jeopardy”.
Neil Jacobstein, robotics expert, said that mankind should prepare its institutions and societies for worst-case scenarios before AI and robotics were fully developed.
However there are also optimists. Rollo Carpenter, creator of a conversation bot that mimics humans, said we were a few decades away from achieving full AI power. Until then, we could not know for sure what would happen if AI exceeded human intelligence – it could help us, ignore us or even destroy us, Carpenter added.