The tech optimism talk just got a little more bizarre from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Altman is confident that artificial intelligence is going to better our world in countless ways; sometimes, however, he doesn’t specify just how that’s going to happen. Other days it seems like he’s actually on the doomsday train. Which is it? Is AI going to save us and pilot us into a transhumanist eternity or will it enslave us forever and diminish everything that makes us human? Maybe it’s both at this point! Maggie Harrison writes in a new blog at Futurism,
It’s true that AGI could, in theory, give humans a helping hand in curing some of our ills. But such an AGI, and AGI as a concept altogether, is still entirely theoretical. Many experts doubt that such a system could ever be realized at all, and if it is, we haven’t figured out how to make existing AIs safe and unbiased. Ensuring that a far more advanced AGI is benevolent is a tall — and perhaps impossible — task.-Maggie Harrison, Sam Altman Says AGI Will Invent Fusion and Make the World Wonderful (futurism.com)
In a recent Mind Matters podcast episode, mathematician John Lennox noted that one of the fundamental challenges of the AI “revolution” is ethics. How can you program a machine to act ethically in the world? Technology is only as good or bad as its programmers. The ethics of AI surveillance technology gets quite murky when it’s utilized to invade someone’s privacy, for instance, or when computer programs learn extensive information about a person in cahoots with Big Tech to leverage users’ attention, time, and habits. We need Altman to specify: what does he mean by “better” when talking about the potential benefits of a concept that remains, at the moment, highly theoretical?