Artificial intelligence threat

The experts run the whole gamut from A to B, and they're practically unanimous: artificial intelligence is going to destroy human civilization.

Expert A is Elon Musk, polymath co-founder of PayPal, manufacturer of Tesla electric cars, creator of Space X, the first privately funded company to send a spacecraft into orbit, and much else besides. "I think we should be very careful about Artificial Intelligence (AI)," he told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in October. "If I were to guess what our biggest existential threat is, it's probably that."

Musk warned AI engineers to "be very careful" not to create robots that could rule the world. Indeed, he suggested that there should be regulatory oversight "at the national and international level" over the work of AI developers, "just to make sure that we don't do something very foolish." Expert B is Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous theoretical physicist and author of the best-selling unread book ever, "A Short History of Time." He has a brain the size of Denmark, and last Monday he told the British Broadcasting Corporation that "the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." A genuinely intelligent machine, Hawking warned, "would 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 Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded." So be very, very careful. Musk and Hawking are almost fifty years behind popular culture in their fear of rogue AI turning against human beings (HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey"). They are a full thirty years behind the concept of a super-computer that achieves consciousness and instantly launches a war of extermination against mankind (Skynet in...

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