As Stephen Hawking questions AI, will it be the best or worst thing to ever happen to humanity?

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking has warned that AI could destroy civilisation (Source: Getty)

Suranga Chandratillake, general partner at Balderton Capital, says the Best.

Evolution is powerful but slow. As a result, we humans are stuck with the bodies and minds we have today – and we know that neither will change dramatically in our lifetimes, or in those of our children.

It is technology that frees us from these fleshy prisons. Cars and planes allow us to travel to places we could never run to. Medicine and drugs allow us to strengthen our bodies and withstand challenges that stopped our ancestors in their tracks. Artificial Intelligence is technology’s next great wave.

Today, most of us spend a vast chunk of every day engaged in repetitive and tedious tasks. These tasks are currently performed by humans due to the need for accumulated experience, or for an understanding of nuance.

AI will allow computers to busy themselves with these tasks, freeing us up to focus more on what we enjoy, and on what we are really good at. In short, AI will allow us to become more human.

Alex Wood, founder and editor of The Memo, says the Worst.

“We’re summoning the demon”. When Elon Musk, one of the world’s greatest tech visionaries, says he’s worried, you should be too.

Let’s face the facts: machines are only as moral as we tell them to be. And we are all flawed. Despite this, Musk has poured billions into AI. He sees the business opportunities, from the ultimate trader to replacing millions of jobs. But this could still be the worst thing to happen to humanity.

It’s no coincidence that countless sci-fi writers have predicted a computer-led apocalypse. Microsoft’s recent furore with an AI Twitter account showed us how quickly computers can imitate the worst bits of humanity. Within 24 hours, this seemingly innocent experiment erupted into an evil Hitler-loving, incest-promoting, “Bush did 9/11” proclaiming robot.

Machines are logical and lack the emotions that make us human. If we give them the power to think, why should they protect us rather than divide and conquer?

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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