Does Rampant AI Threaten Humanity?


Professor Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have all warned about the possibility that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could evolve to the point where it was beyond human control. Here’s what they have to say.

Stephen Hawking says the invention of AI could be the biggest disaster in humanity’s history, and warned that if not properly managed, thinking machines could spell the end for civilisation. “AI could develop a will of its own that is in conflict with ours and take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans are limited by slow biological evolution, just could not compete, and would be superseded.” Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk founder of cuttingedge companies Space X and Tesla electric cars reckons that unchecked AI advancement is the most serious threat to the survival of the human race. He says that, humanity risks “summoning a demon” and calls for more regulatory oversight. Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft has also added his weight to the AI debate and says: “I don’t understand those AI advocates who are not troubled by the possibility that AI could grow too strong for people to control”.

Unperturbed by these apocalyptic warnings, Google’s DeepMind AI researchers are forging ahead and are teaming up with the makers of StarCraft to teach DeepMind some new tricks. StarCraft is an advanced military science fiction realtime interactive strategy video war game involving three competing species. The objective of the game is to destroy the two species that you are fighting against by implementing ruthless tactics and strategies. No mercy is required if you want to win this “game”. Google say that DeepMind is on a scientific mission to push the boundaries of AI, developing programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be told how. The skills required for DeepMind to play StarCraft well could ultimately transfer to real-world tasks. Let’s just hope that as DeepMind “grows up” and becomes the perfect self-acting and learning super AI machine that it will realise it is playing a game and not unleash its superior intellect and capabilities on us puny humans living in the real world. The above has a troubling Deja Vu feel about it. Remember SkyNet from the Terminator films? SkyNet is a super advanced AI machine that becomes “self-aware” and decides to exterminate the human species. Only a film!

We’re already living in the early days of the post-AI world. The machines are slowly but surely getting smarter and the pursuits in which humans remain supreme are diminishing.