28.12.2017, by Robin Kuijper
Fear of the Unforeseen
We all know Skynet, the military computer created during the cold war by the US military to defend humanity from nuclear war. Skynet almost destroyed humanity if it wasn’t for Sarah Conner and her passion for time travel. Thankfully the ‘Terminator’ franchise is a science fiction story and Skynet is not real. But how close are we to creating our very own Skynet?
What Does AGI Actually Mean?
Skynet falls into the field of AGI, which is where we develop machines with “generalised” human intelligence that can perform any intellectual task that a human can, with the goal of general cognitive abilities. In other words, the field of AGI is looking at how to create a machine which, just as any human being would, performs a task based upon its own free will.
AI: Yes to an Uncertain Future?
People do not fear the AI developments that are listed above. What they do fear, are the developments in the field of AGI, however. Many have continuously expressed their concern. And some have even signed an open letter to the United Nations already in order to call for a ban on “killer robots” and autonomous weapons, among them Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak. Catch-22, because AGI is just another part of AI itself. Developing AI further consequently means developing AGI further, and that might be exactly the issue. We are already moving forward with AGI as we come to move forward with AI.
The important question seems obvious now: Are we afraid of AI for no reason? Or is such public protest understandable and we should seriously be concerned for the near future? The answer differs, of course, depending on the individual and the expectation that comes with it. As stated above, there are many people who think we have to be extremely careful in the field of AI. While others think that AI is the future and definitely a step forward we need to get used to. Physicist Stephen Hawking summarises the case perfectly and says, “The rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity”. We simply cannot tell how AI will impact society in our near future and how AGI develops with it. It might be a bad advancement altogether. Or it might just be mankind’s best creation yet.