Starlog 7: Adventures and Star Trek: AI

Professor: Adventures

Professor battles with alf 2

I’m in a fight for my life.  Then again, I can’t die.  I’m in a fight as if for my life.  Alf2 is like a vampire.  Its teeth are bared and it wants to gorge itself on my energy.  But there’s a way to stop it.  I name it, and in so doing put up a kind of mirror.  Alf2 recoils then shrinks into itself.

Star Trek: AI

In the Smithsonian Magazine article “What Will Our Society Look Like When Artificial Intelligence is Everywhere?”, Stephen Talty states that “ . . . so-called ‘narrow’ AIs are everywhere, embedded in your GPS systems and Amazon recommendations. But the ultimate goal is artificial general intelligence, a self-teaching system that can outperform humans across a wide range of disciplines”.  The future AI will be one that thinks and seems or becomes conscious. The AI of the future might look somewhat like Data.  Humans tend to engage in personification: doing so makes the unfamiliar understandable.  AI might also look like a microchip embedded in the human body. Humans tend to create new technologies that are purposeful as well as convenient.  Joanna Bryson, who addresses issues of regulation and government regarding AI in the MIT Technology Review article “The future of AI’s impact on society”, states that “[a]t its most essential, intelligence is just intelligence, whether artifact or animal. It is a form of computation, and as such, a transformation of information”.  Perhaps, then, humans might be shorn of all unnecessary bodily, mental, emotional, and psychological functions but one—the ability to compute—and in this way become AI.

However AI might appear in the future, the possibility of AI becoming a thinking and perhaps a conscious being begs for concern.  Talty reports: “‘AIs will colonize and transform the entire cosmos,’ says Juergen Schmidhuber, a pioneering computer scientist based at the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Switzerland, ‘and they will make it intelligent’”.  Talty conceives of a world full of AI, a world in which AI works to keep humans healthy, chooses romantic partners for humans and negotiates divorces, and cares for the elderly.  Even as AI proves beneficial, it also proves detrimental.  Talty imagines AI “taking jobs away from people, millions of jobs” that might enable the unemployed to be supported by government “universal basic income” or “create staggering wealth inequalities”.  Talty also reports: “Two of the heaviest hitters of the computer age, Bill Gates and Elon Musk, have warned about AIs either destroying the planet in a frenzied pursuit of their own goals or doing away with humans by accident—or not by accident”.

In the end, humans are responsible for AI and for how it might develop dependently or how it might develop independently of human control.  Since humans are prone to fallacy, perfect AI, however that might be defined, does not seem possible.  This knowledge should promote not fear but caution and should inspire both creativity and innovation.  After all, Data—that is to say AI—already is a reality.

Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade

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