I recently heard a few writers griping about how predictors of artificial intelligence have it all wrong, that those who warn of impending doom from our soon-to-be AI “overlords” are Chicken Littles. I think that’s a dangerous philosophy to have. When the world’s top computer scientists suggest that we will have artificial general intelligence on par with a human being in as little as two decades, I think it makes sense to consider the negative consequences of what that might mean *now* and not when it arrives. Because by then it will be too late.
Yes, AI promises to bring a great many positive things into the world. Automation, combined with a universal income, would free us up to do all the things we wish we could do but never get to, because we are constantly struggling to stay afloat financially. AI could bring about a new golden age. But it could bring about a dark age too, if we aren’t careful. These prognosticators who are warning against AI are like the climatologists who say that if we don’t drastically reduce our CO2 pollution, things are going to get bad for us real soon. Except AI could be far worse in terms of people affected, since our entire world is dependent on networked technology (as the recent hurricanes have made clear.)