The other day I got Bixby – Samsung’s virtual assistant – on my phone. My phone also has Google assistant while my laptop and tablet have Siri. I am surrounded by virtual assistants, possibly the precursors to AI (Artificial Intelligence if you have just arrived in civilisation). I’ll be honest, I keep forgetting to use them.
These days the news is full of stories about the rise of AI. Well, Trump, North Korea, Brexit and AIs. Everything is basically alarming and it is hard to know what to be most shit scared about next. Recently an AI beat the world’s best GO player, Microsoft made a chatbot that became racist frighteningly quickly and China made several chatbots that started to praise America and were shut down. So good and bad.
The other day Vladimir Putin gave a speech where he said that whichever nation leads in AI will be the ‘Ruler of the World’. This then prompted Elon Musk to tweet:
“China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.”
So pretty scary all round. Being a massive optimist, I don’t think it will necessarily be all doom. People often think Skynet from Terminator or the Cylons. I agree with Mr Musk that killer robots for the army are probably a massively stupid idea. We need to tread carefully and when I look at the people currently in charge, I can certainly see urge for panic. But with calmer more intelligent minds helping out maybe it will all be ok. If you look at the history of nearly everything – some things are great and some are shite, yet still, we humans persist.
An AI might be like in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – handy but mostly a bit annoying. Or like in Star Wars, where they can do robot stuff but are essentially like people (although in Star Wars, they are basically slaves which is bad). On a more positive spin, the AIs in Iain M Banks Culture novels are bloody great. In ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ robots and AIs are actually in charge and the aliens’ culture is massively better off. So who knows? It is going to happen and if you look at Trump, North Korea and Brexit, maybe we should welcome the robot overlords.
Maybe they have taken over already and we are all living in the Matrix. As long as I can drink beer, eat steak, travel a lot and play games, I am happy. All hail the robot overlords!