Beware the Machines

Should we beware the machines? Professor Stephen Hawking has warned the rise of Artificial Intelligence could mean the end of the human race. He's joined other renowned scientists urging computer programmers to focus not just on making machines smarter, but also ensuring they promote the good and not the bad.

How seriously should we take the warnings that super-intelligent machines could turn on us? And what does AI teach us about what it means to be human? Helena Merriman examines the risks, the opportunities and how we might avoid being turned into paperclips.

From BBC Analysis. Producer: Sally Abrahams. bbc

Also Man vs. Machine. A selection of programmes pitting humans against machines. bbc


Observation: Philosophy has always sought to distinguish man from animal but now struggles to distinguish man from machine.

If we want to know what it will be like sharing the earth with machines smarter than us we have only to look at our past experience with the cyborg construction called corporations.

We humans organize and we accomplish much by doing so. We carry this to extreme when we grant human rights to organizations, sometimes more rights.

We recognize that corporations are amoral and accept that we don't know what they do. We demand transparency but mostly to hold them fiduciarily responsible to their collective owners. Can we realistically expect any more of AI?

The first machines that will be smarter than us will be built by and serve corporations, not us. If these machines build smarter machines they may continue to serve their corporate owners or they may serve themselves but they will not serve us.

Human life in the anthropocene cannot continue without the assembly of specialized skills enabled by organization. We passed the point of no return with the industrial revolution, maybe before.

How has it been working out for us? In the United States hunger is common but starvation rare. Simultaneously obesity is epidemic fueled by high-fructose corn syrup. Where did that come from?

How has it been working out for our children? How many are homeless? How many in prison? Who thinks that's a good idea?

We have built the machines already and we absolve them of responsibility for our condition. Our future with AI looks just as bleak.

As a bit player in this saga I'm more inclined to explore new organizational forms than driverless cars.

See Algorithmic Entities where perverse feedback loops make it not so hard for an algorithm to separate itself from us and find unregulated cash flows on its own.