Are we taking AI seriously enough?

AI success would be the biggest event in history, but maybe the last, warn Hawking, Russell, Tegmark, and Wilczek.
May 5, 2014

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat air vehicle (credit: General Atomics)

“Dismissing the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction,” as portrayed in current movies, would be a mistake, and “potentially our worst mistake in history,” write leading scientists Stephen Hawking, Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark, and Frank Wilczek, in The Independent.

AI research is now progressing rapidly, and “will probably pale against what the coming decades will bring, the scientists suggest. “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks” — such as autonomous weapons systems that can choose and eliminate targets.

Despite such risks, “little serious research is devoted to these issues,” except for a few nonprofit institutes. “All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.”