Intelligent Robots May Be a Stupid Idea. For One Thing, They Want Our Jobs
Last Sunday, during a speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., scientist Moshe Vardi did his best to sound an alarm about what he sees as the inevitable destructive encroaching upon human jobs by robots endowed with artificial intelligence. Verdi is a professor of computational engineering at Rice University.
What alarms Vardi is the assumption that the advancement of technology is always to the benefit of mankind. To the standard pro-technology stance that robots will free humans from the drudgery of work, Vardi responds, “I do not find this a promising future as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing. I believe that work is essential to human well-being.”
Vardi’s not alone in his concerns, with prominent scientists such as Stephen Hawking having written, “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it; the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”
With robots expected to be capable of doing anything a human can within 30 years, Verdi expects human unemployment to top 50% by 2045. While he doesn’t expect technology to be stoppable at this point — “The genie is out of the bottle,” he says — he feels we have no more than 25 years to avoid serious problems. “What we need to do is to start now thinking very hard and investing in research into how society can cope with the advance of automation.”
Tesla founder Elon Musk recently announced his participation in the Open AI project, which is based on the counter-intuitive idea: Making AI technology available to everyone as it advances will safeguard human priorities by not allowing it to become the exclusive domain of big corporations.
Or our robot overlords.