Curiosity is the best thing that’s happened to us. It’s been a catalyst for learning and evolution. When early man stumbled upon a spark while rubbing two stones, it was his curiosity that led him to explore and control fire. Curiosity led man through ages, driving him to ask relevant and not-so-relevant questions.
But there’s never a full stop after a question mark. Is that a bad thing?
Apocalypse and AI walk into a bar. There’s banter.
Of late there has been a lot of talk about the apocalyptic effect a full-fledged, super-advanced, AI system could have on human race. A quick search on Google about AI returns multiple results, of which many quote tech bigwigs talking about the drawbacks of infusing intelligence with technology.
Elon Musk (Tesla Motors CEO) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (Celebrity scientist) together imagined human life under the power of superintelligence, likening it to the life of lab rats—rather animatedly—in an interview with the Daily Mail.
When asked if all unhappy humans could be terminated in the future, Musk suggested, “we should all be captured with dopamine and serotonin directly injected into our brains to maximise happiness, because it’s concluded that dopamine and serotonin are what cause happiness, therefore maximise it.”
While the tone of that particular interview was quite jovial, Musk believes AI is our “biggest existential threat” and that we might be “summoning the demon” in doing so.
Musk may have made the comments all in good humour, but he knows where to put a full stop when it is called for. At least we’d like to think so—What? He’s the real-life Iron Man!
That Theory Though!
The basic theory that’s doing the rounds, generating fear is, “Intelligence leads to power,” which is disputable. AI domination, although plausible, is rather unlikely. The reason is well explained by Timothy B. Lee, a writer for Vox magazine. He explains, “If this theory were true, societies would be run by their scientists, philosophers, or chess prodigies, instead of charismatic, driven leaders who aren’t the most intelligent of their lot.”
So, should we panic and start running around like our heads caught fire?
So many experts voicing their worries about building an advanced AI system with real senses have put the world on fifth gear. Bill Gates is promoting the urgency of asking why nobody is bothered about the looming threat of AI.
The answer is perhaps “Time”—an extrapolation I share with the real-life Tony Stark (Musk). He says time is on our side when it comes to the AI Apocalypse Theory, because we are far, far away from building that kind of intelligence. He also gives a solution (Hallelujah!):
“You can have systems that are intelligent but not autonomous. They can solve problems but don’t decide by themselves what problems to solve.”
Here’s some wisdom
Power cannot be vested in intelligence—society does not function that way. There will always be a switch that needs the human touch (remember Wall-E?).
Man made technology. Technology did not make man. Well, technically speaking, it’s possible now (genetic engineering and all), but that does not validate the theory.
Curiosity cannot be destroyed. It can only be converted from one question to another, but never destroyed. If it were ever possible to destroy curiosity, that will be the end of mankind!