Will the rise of intelligent machines spell doom for humanity?
Popular movies and news reporting on artificial intelligence (AI) would certainly have us think so.
In Hollywood’s imaginings, AI is dangerous and uncontrollable. AI seduces: recall Ex Machina’s calculating femmebot. AI murders: think of the homicidal HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. AI annihilates: recall the machine overlords of The Matrix and the world domination-seeking Skynet system from The Terminator series. Techno-paranoia is popular among today’s TV writers too, from Netflix’s Black Mirror to the sinister robot awakening of HBO’s Westworld.
In the news, editors court clicks with headlines quoting Stephen Hawking’s statement that AI could “spell the death of the human race,” and Elon Musk’s sensational suggestion that AI is like “summoning the devil.” You probably also have read that IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer vanquished reigning chess world champion Gary Kasparov in 1996, and that in 2016 Google’s AlphaGo defeated the world’s strongest player of the Chinese strategy game, Go. The news media is quick to depict these incidents as early signs of the inevitable triumph of machines over humans.
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Katherine is pursuing a Master in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School as an Australian General Sir John Monash Scholar. She is Vice-Chair of The Future Society and her current interests include technology governance and cybersecurity.