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06 February, 2018

Robots gone wild: Scientists have duty to protect mankind from artificial intelligence

The clock is ticking for the world of science to take the necessary steps to protect mankind from the deleterious effects of artificial intelligence, which is increasing by leaps and bounds.

As someone who is old enough to remember a world without the internet and smartphones, I am also young enough to wonder where the human race is heading as computers ‘evolve’ into the unchartered territory of artificial intelligence (AI).

For example, a recent report by AP shows that in an increasing number of local and state courtrooms around America, “judges are now guided by computer algorithms before ruling whether criminal defendants can return to everyday life, or remain locked up awaiting trial.

The report went to say that “AI is reshaping, if not eliminating, some of judges’ most basic tasks — many of which can still have enormous consequences for the people involved.

The idea of computers increasingly deciding our fate brings to mind a slew of sci-fi Hollywood productions that invariably depicts the future as a dark, sinister and altogether inhospitable place. Tech-noir box office hits, like Blade Runner (1982), The Terminator (1984), Brazil (1985) and The Matrix (1999) have reinforced the singular message: Where we are now is a far better place than where we are heading.

Despite such grave predictions from the entertainment industry, as well as the great science fiction writers, like George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, mankind has willingly saddled the wild beast known as technology and is prepared to ride it where it would lead us. And therein, I believe, lays the tragedy: Our belief that technology is completely beyond our ability to control. Adhering to such a stance could be the cause for our ultimate downfall.

In December, Professor Stephen Hawking spoke about the rise of artificial intelligence in an interview with Wired magazine. “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether… If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself,” the acclaimed physicist warned.

Hawking then went on to utter a breathtaking prediction: “This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.

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