Artificial Intelligence

It doesn't take a particularly skilled futurist or prophet to see that we are treading a very dangerous path with our current work in Artificial Intelligence.

In fact, i do not think it is an exaggeration to say that AI experiments are our generation's equivalent of The Manhattan Project. And, if we are not careful, we have the potential to create something equally destructive.

Of course, there are many who argue that science is taking all necessary precautions - and that we, as intelligent humans, would not possibly be stupid enough to develop something which will lead to our own harm.

But, this argument is a non starter. Because a brief look at history shows us that we have already been "stupid" enough to develop things which lead to our harm.

Remember, we are the species that developed sharpened blades, cannons, guns, bombs, tanks, missiles, Nuclear Weapons, and all other forms of destruction.

We are the ones that manufacture potent poisons, viruses, and toxic gases. And who damage our environment through mass tree felling, burning fossil fuels, and careless disposal of man made plastics.

This isn't to say that all of our modern innovations are innately evil. Because, actually, when all of these above listed innovations where first being developed - they too were touted as "only for the good" of mankind.

So, the sharpened blade would make hunting and agriculture easier - thus benefiting our survival.

While explosives would help with ground clearance - allowing us to mine deeper, or build on larger areas.

And nuclear technology would help us to provide cleaner energy - and, in the form of a bomb, could help with anything from Canal Clearance, to rocket propulsion and Asteroid destruction.

In short, all of our technological advancements have their roots in good intentions.

But, as humans, we always having a habit of taking things too far. Intentionally, or unintentionally.

Our innate desire for prestige, or power over our neighbours, leads us so often into taking good technology, and using it for malevolent means. And, unfortunately, though the majority of people will always seek to do what is good for the whole - there will also be the minority who seek to exploit things for their own gain.

Thus, we may start by only using the sharp blade for agriculture or food preparation. But all it takes is for one person to realise that they can also use this blade to threaten or strike fear into others - and things escalate. To the point that this "useful tool" now becomes a dangerous weapon.

Just as our "useful" energy becomes harmful to our environment.

And our "useful" nuclear technology becomes a weapon of war.

So, will it really be so different with AI?

Right now, it does seem that our intention with this technology is positive. We are developing AI to make human existence better - and no doubt we will succeed.

But, as the technology becomes increasingly advanced, how soon before someone decides to exploit it?

Or, how soon before we decide to just push it one step too far - and create an intelligence that we can no longer control?

Remember, we are moving into unknown territory with all of this. So, no-one knows for sure where the line needs to be drawn in order to create AI that is only "good".

And perhaps we will not find out at all, until we have gone to far. At which point, any mistakes we are making now will be impossible to take back.

But, one again, i want to re iterate that this message is not meant to be anti technology, or anti AI.

Because, if used in the right way - and developed with wisdom - AI has the potential not only to improve our lives exponentially, but to truly be one of the most significant human developments of all time - revolutionising our health care, business markets, manufacturing and so much else.

So my position is that we should very definitely be working to develop AI.

But, we should do it with extreme caution. Remaining constantly mindful that we are playing with fire.

If we can set aside our ego, quell our tendency towards over ambition, and develop this new technology with modest aims - AI will have extraordinary benefits for us all.

But, if we carry on ignoring the big picture, and focus only on our own mindless, short term ambition - we are going to be walking into more danger than we realise.

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