BOSTON. 15 May, 2014 – Attention humanity: extinction is imminent! Geniuses say AI is an existential threat. Those robot servants people are rushing to pre-order could soon wipe us out, which only leaves the obvious question: okay, but can robots get high?
Scientists are not ready to answer that question yet, however they are pointing out that the robot servants people are already pre-ordering may not be as biddable as we hope. Space X and Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk warned in November 2014 that “something seriously dangerous” could happen as a result of AI within five years. Now Musk, has backed his opinion with cash, today announcing a $10 million donation to the Boston-based Future of Life Institute (FLI) to run a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity.
Musk has described AI as our “biggest existential threat,” saying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AeroAstro Centennial Symposium last October, “With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon. You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and … he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.”
In an open letter signed by numerous scientists and academics, the FLI states that there is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society will increase. The letter goes on to say the developments so far have been “neutral with respect to purpose,” and includes a warning that: “Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls…our AI systems must do what we want them to do.”
Professor Stephen Hawking also weighed in on the topic this week. He’s the genius who suffers from motor neuron disease and uses a machine to speak (it works off a small sensor activated by a muscle in his cheek). In comments made on Tuesday at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, Hawking warned that robots could conquer humans within 100 years. He predicted they will become smarter and stronger than their human creators and will inevitably begin to redesign themselves without human input, evolving far more rapidly than we can. Humans, slowed by biological evolution, will not be able to compete and will be replaced.
Hawking has previously commented that creating AI would be “the biggest event in human history, [but] unfortunately, it might also be the last.”
Skype-founder Jaan Tallinn, one of FLI’s founders, welcomed the Musk donation in a website statement: “Building advanced AI is like launching a rocket. The first challenge is to maximize acceleration, but once it starts picking up speed, you also need to to focus on steering.”
The cannabis industry has yet to employ robots as trimmers but the possibility could be just around the corner. Brainiacs are predicting that within a decade robots will be entering the job market in droves, leaving humans with far too much time on our hands.
Obviously our new overlords will need to chill occasionally. Perhaps they’ll be able to program a high for themselves. MIT scientists just built a robot with cognitive abilities, so we’ll know soon enough.