Technologists Expect Increasing Risk
Celebrity technologists and scientists expect increasing risk as machines continue to become faster, smarter, smaller, more pervasive, and more diverse than ever before.
[beastcoin: "How much of an existential threat do you think machine superintelligence will be and do you believe full end-to-end encryption for all internet acitivity can do anything to protect us from that threat ... ??"]
"I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."
"What was different in the 20th century? Certainly, the technologies underlying the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) - were powerful, and the weapons an enormous threat. But building nuclear weapons required, at least for a time, access to both rare - indeed, effectively unavailable - raw materials and highly protected information; biological and chemical weapons programs also tended to require large-scale activities.
"The 21st-century technologies - genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR) - are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses. Most dangerously, for the first time, these accidents and abuses are widely within the reach of individuals or small groups. They will not require large facilities or rare raw materials. Knowledge alone will enable the use of them.
"Thus we have the possibility not just of weapons of mass destruction but of knowledge-enabled mass destruction (KMD), this destructiveness hugely amplified by the power of self-replication.
"I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals."
Carl Sagan (1934 to 1996 CE)
"It might be a familiar progression, transpiring on many worlds - a planet, newly formed, placidly revolves around its star; life slowly forms; a kaleidoscopic procession of creatures evolves; intelligence emerges which, at least up to a point, confers enormous survival value; and then technology is invented. It dawns on them that there are such things as laws of Nature, that these laws can be revealed by experiment, and that knowledge of these laws can be made both to save and to take lives, both on unprecedented scales. Science, they recognize, grants immense powers. In a flash, they create world-altering contrivances. Some planetary civilizations see their way through, place limits on what may and what must not be done, and safely pass through the time of perils. Others, not so lucky or so prudent, perish."
[Bob: "In view of its potential to be possibly the biggest game changer ever, do you have any plans to enter the field of artificial intelligence and in general what are your thoughts on it? Do you think it's even close to being ready for prime time?"]
"I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it's probably that. So we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence. I'm increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don't do something very foolish.
"With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. You know all those stories, where there's the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he's sure he can control the demon? Didn't work out."
["Is the Internet, and modern forms of communication in general, is that a purely positive development, or are there things about it that actually worry you?"]
"The Internet has brought a lot of benefits, but it has its drawbacks and dangers, such as pornography and threatening messages. According to the new head of GCHQ, the Internet has become a command center for criminals and terrorists. More must be done by the Internet companies to counter threat, but the difficulty is to do this without sacrificing freedom and privacy."
["Now when you watch software engineers and machine learning experts at work, as they have been on this project, how far along the path to artificial intelligence do you think we are?"]
"The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."