"The development of full artificial intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded." Now, I love Stephen Hawking and his way of thinking. Here is a person who seems able to look around corners to predict the future. And I just don't buy this statement.
Gizmodo is 20 years old! To celebrate the anniversary, we're looking back at some of the most significant ways our lives have been thrown for a loop by our digital tools. Like so many others after 9/11, I felt spiritually and existentially lost. It's hard to believe now, but I was a regular churchgoer at the time. Watching those planes smash into the World Trade Center woke me from my extended cerebral slumber and I haven't set foot in a church since, aside from the occasional wedding or baptism. I didn't realize it at the time, but that godawful day triggered an intrapersonal renaissance in which my passion for science and philosophy was resuscitated. My marriage didn't survive this mental reboot and return to form, but it did lead me to some very positive places, resulting in my adoption of secular Buddhism, meditation, and a decade-long stint with vegetarianism.
Artificial intelligence--AI--is an information technology. And it is already deeply embedded into our social fabric, both in ways we understand and in ways we don't. It will hack our society to a degree and effect unlike anything that's come before. I mean this in two very different ways. One, AI systems will be used to hack us. And two, AI systems will themselves become hackers: finding vulnerabilities in all sorts of social, economic, and political systems, and then exploiting them at an unprecedented speed, scale, and scope. We risk a future of AI systems hacking other AI systems, with humans being little more than collateral damage. Okay, maybe it's a bit of hyperbole, but none of this requires far-future science-fiction technology. I'm not postulating any "singularity," where the AI-learning feedback loop becomes so fast that it outstrips human understanding. My scenarios don't require evil intent on the part of anyone. We don't need malicious AI systems like Skynet (Terminator) or the Agents (Matrix). Some of the hacks I will discuss don't even require major research breakthroughs. They'll improve as AI techniques get more sophisticated, but we can see hints of them in operation today. This hacking will come naturally, as AIs become more advanced at learning, understanding, and problem-solving. In this essay, I will talk about the implications of AI hackers. First, I will generalize "hacking" to include economic, social, and political systems--and also our brains. Next, I will describe how AI systems will be used to hack us. Then, I will explain how AIs will hack the economic, social, and political systems that comprise society. Finally, I will discuss the implications of a world of AI hackers, and point towards possible defenses. It's not all as bleak as it might sound. Caper movies are filled with hacks. Hacks are clever, but not the same as innovations. Systems tend to be optimized for specific outcomes. Hacking is the pursuit of another outcome, often at the expense of the original optimization Systems tend be rigid. Systems limit what we can do and invariably, some of us want to do something else. But enough of us are. Hacking is normally thought of something you can do to computers. But hacks can be perpetrated on any system of rules--including the tax code. But you can still think of it as "code" in the computer sense of the term. It's a series of algorithms that takes an input--financial information for the year--and produces an output: the amount of tax owed. It's deterministic, or at least it's supposed to be.
Originally published on Towards AI the World's Leading AI and Technology News and Media Company. If you are building an AI-related product or service, we invite you to consider becoming an AI sponsor. At Towards AI, we help scale AI and technology startups. Let us help you unleash your technology to the masses. I recently came across this question on determining our trust in AI systems.
For part of the lecture, I was preparing discussions surrounding AI and the future of work. I wanted to discuss how execution of different professional tasks were changing with technology, and what that means for the future of certain industries or occupational areas. I wanted to underline that some tasks like repetitive transactions, large scale iterations, standard rule applications are better done with AI – as long as they were the right solution for the context and problem, and were developed responsibly and monitored continuously. On the flip side, certain skills and tasks that include leading, empathizing, creating are to be left to humans – AI systems neither have the capacity or capability, nor should they be entrusted with such tasks. I wanted to add some visuals to the presentation and also check out what is currently being depicted in the search results.