Getting Really Smart About Artificial Intelligence

There’s clearly some public anxiety about artificial intelligence. And why wouldn’t there be? One of the smartest humans alive, Stephen Hawking, says AI could end mankind. But the question isn’t whether to worry about AI, it’s what kind of AI to worry about. Tesla founder Elon Musk recently warned a gathering of governors that they need to act now to put regulations the development of artificial intelligence. “I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal,” he said. This kind of concern should come with a caveat, which The Verge points out: Musk is not talking about the sort of artificial intelligence that companies like Google, Uber, and Microsoft currently use, but what is known as artificial general intelligence — some conscious, super-intelligent entity, like the sort you see in sci-fi movies. Musk (and many AI researchers) believe that work on the former will eventually lead to the latter, but there are plenty of people in the science community who doubt this will ever happen, especially in any of our lifetimes. To understand the threats AI may or may not pose…


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