Those who are afraid of artificial intelligence are in large numbers and vary greatly, from your average SF enthusiast with little theoretical knowledge to science experts or entrepreneurs like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. Panic is a good seller, so it’s no wonder the idea that sinister and malevolent androids could one day obliterate humanity has been used in so many media productions.
The general public has taken the idea for granted, while technology is actually having a different kind of impact on their lives, taking over their existence in a manner people accept without too much resistance. And that can easily be seen in both public and private places nowadays, where people prefer to spend time wired to their mobile devices or computers instead of interacting to each other.
But let’s go back to the problem of humanity obliteration by artificial intelligence and see why you should not be afraid it could happen any time soon:
1. Intellectuals fearing the end of human race may not have a solid understanding of the topic
Artificial intelligence research and development are extremely complex and represent more than creating smartphone assistants like Siri. Even if big names talk about the risk of AI becoming dangerous, their opinions may not necessarily be backed up by sufficient knowledge in the field. This is not the strongest con, for sure, but ceasing to believe in any verdict provided by a solemn voice will prevent you from being afraid without a good reason.
2. Human-level artificial intelligence does not exist yet
And it will not be developed either in the foreseeable future. Researchers committed to educating the general public about the difference between Hollywood and reality stress that AI, although complex, is far from reaching that level that makes it equal or more powerful that humans. Machine superintelligence is a very difficult goal to achieve, if not impossible – or at least this is what experts in the field declare.
3. The lack of media filters these days makes any opinion viable
The emergence of digital communication has made it possible to express your opinion publicly without being bothered by gatekeepers such as journalists or expert reviewers. And since fear captivates the public, dystopian ideas have caught ground without such hypotheses being verified by professionals. Reading an article online can mislead you, even if it mentions studies (who knows if they have not been invented?) or it includes quotes from brilliant minds (many times taken out of the context). And when some geniuses also publicly fear the end of humankind, the whole idea has caught deep roots and combatting it has become almost impossible.
4. Researchers fearing artificial intelligence are in the extreme minority
Maybe you’ll be less impressed by the hysteria that journalists and social media influencers have instilled in the general public when you hear that just a very small number of scientists who are actually computer science experts consider that AI could overturn humanity one day. Who would you trust – the 99 who say AI is beneficial or the only one in 100 who talks about a SF-like scenario?
5. People are confusing principle with execution
Many things are possible in theory, with reality though coming to contradict them. Scientists such as Bart Selman, who is a professor of computer science at Cornell, say that the fear of evil-minded robots destroying humanity is based on a simple mistake. He says that allocating more resources at a given system does not mean that the system will increase in capability accordingly. You may have unlimited resources, but you cannot scale up to no end. For instance, drinking more energizer to have more energy works until one point, until you get sick instead of becoming superhuman, and the same thing happens with AI – you can’t fuel it up to no end. Selman speaks about computational barriers, which could actually be “fundamental barriers”.
6. The evolution of AI will be accompanies by ways to control it
The AI community admits that finding funds is a major impediment against development in the field, since there are not so many people who are willing to invest in artificial intelligence. So, if AI will become one day so strong as to endanger humanity, this will take very long, and in the meanwhile scientists will have plenty of time available to create ways to control it,
7. AI is becoming a part of us
Rather than being a separate entity, artificial intelligence is becoming a part of humanity and some consider that one day human biology and technology will become one. This may sound scary, but if technology does something detrimental for humanity, it also does something detrimental for itself, because it is a part of humanity, and self-destructive technology could not persist.
Just two last thoughts, to end with:
The biggest disasters that have happened so far have been caused by humanity, while no computer has ever committed genocide in the name of an idea and,
Something greater and better than we can comprehend could arrive, so why not welcome it?