Why Artificial Intelligence Threatens Humanity
This weekend I visited a friend who had wired his house for Alexa. Using voice commands he demonstrated control of lights, ceiling fans, heating and cooling, window shades, feeders for his cats and dog and his garage door. As a novelty it was an interesting demonstration showing the Jetsons world has arrived. The demonstration rekindled my thinking about the darker side of Artificial Intelligence and the reality that this seemingly innocent technology threatens humanity.
Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines. In April 2017 the MIT Technology Review published an article entitled The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI. The article discusses a self driving car that learned how to drive by observing humans driving cars. The author summarizes the upshot of the article "The system is so complicated that even the engineers who designed it may struggle to isolate the reason for any single action."
Now take a minute to reflect on the implications of these facts:
- Machines are able to learn independently through observation rather than being programmed
- Machines are making their own decisions independently without influence from a human, society or set of values
- Humans don't understand how it works
In July of 2017 Fast Company published an article "AI Is Inventing Languages Humans Can’t Understand. Should We Stop It?" The article explains that a Facebook AI chatbot program had started communicating with another chatbot in a language not understandable to humans. In other words, machines are now able to learn to talk with each other.
Fast forward five to ten years and computers will be communicating with each other to leverage each platforms unique capability as part of an alliance. With no human oversite or understanding of the core technology the alliance will make its own decisions about the world using values that will likely not align with humans as the center of the universe.
I would suggest not letting Alexa, Siri or any other machine observe every aspect of your life.