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Monday, September 19, 2016

Myths About an AI Future

Brought to my attention.

“It’s Going to Kill Us!” and Other Myths About the Future
of Artificial Intelligence by Robert D Atkinson.  

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, June 2016

The past decade has seen many important advancements in computer
science that enable software systems to compile and process new
information to continually improve the way they function. Indeed, with
artificial intelligence (AI), computing is moving from something that
“computes” to something that effectively reasons, thinks, and learns. In so
doing, it is becoming an ever more powerful and valuable complement to
human capabilities: improving medical diagnoses, weather prediction,
supply-chain management, transportation, and even personal choices
about where to go on vacation or what to buy.

Although artificial intelligence has become commonplace—most smartphones contain some version of AI, such as speech recognition—the public still has a poor understanding of the technology. As a result, a diverse cast of critics, driven by fear of technology, opportunism, or ignorance, has jumped into the intellectual vacuum to warn policymakers that, sooner than we think, AI will produce a parade of horribles: mass unemployment, abuse from “algorithmic bias,” the end of privacy, an atrophying of human agency, and even the destruction of humanity, as “Skynet”-like machines decide the world is better off without us.

 Indeed, these voices have grown so loud, espousing a message that a click hungry media eagerly amplifies, that we are very near the point where these narratives may be accepted as truth. Needless to say, when AI is so vociferously demonized (indeed, the engineering magnate Elon Musk has explicitly warned that AI could be “the demon” that threatens our existence, especially if actions are not taken to design systems that can remain under human control), there is a real risk that policymakers will seek to retard its progress.  .... " 

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