Head to Head: Artificial intelligence can only benefit humanity

The Future of Life Institute, an organization founded to “catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life,” claims that recent breakthroughs have clearly made possible the achievement of “superintelligence” in our lifetime. While no longer strictly science fiction, it is also unclear what effect superintelligence — which is a thinly veiled term for self-bettering artificial intelligence — will have on humanity. Very often we are presented the dystopian vision of this aftermath. In “The Matrix,” humans are farmed by machines for energy; in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the AI unit HAL attempts to kill all human crewmembers; in “Ex Machina” the protagonist attempts to release an imprisoned AI (to spoiler-ridden effect). While these portraits of AI as deviant machines inevitably cause anxiety in our increasingly technologized world, there is…

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