Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most promising and revolutionary technologies of our time. Thanks to it, we can do incredible things, like recognize faces, translate languages, or play chess. But it can also be one of the most dangerous and destructive. This is how they warn the main creators of AI in an open letter warning about the “danger of extinction” that this technology poses for humanity.
The statement is as follows: “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority along with other societal-scale risks like pandemics and nuclear war.”
According to them, AI could cause irreparable damage if not properly regulated and controlled.. They compare this threat to that of a pandemic or nuclear war, and call on governments and society to take urgent action to avoid the worst possible scenario. Could it be that the parents of AI have regretted their creation? Or could it be that they want to protect us from ourselves and our insatiable curiosity? Be that as it may, it seems that the AI is not as innocent as it seems.
The human being is a creator of tools. Since ancient times, he has invented and used objects to facilitate his survival and well-being. The tools expand the power of the human being, allow him to do things that he otherwise could not. But all power also implies risk. Because human beings have a long history of using tools against others, be it to defend themselves, to attack or to dominate. Which implies that the more powerful the tool, the greater the danger.
Let’s imagine for a moment that someone throws a machete into a monkey cage. The machete is a very useful tool for cutting branches or fruit, but also very dangerous for cutting meat or bones. What would the monkeys do with the machete? Would they ignore it, play with it, share it, or fight over it? Would they use it to cooperate or to compete? Would they use it to help themselves or to hurt themselves? The machete could have very different effects depending on how the monkeys use it. It could upset the social hierarchy, provoke conflict or alliances, create fear or trust. Or it could even mean the extinction of the group.
Now, if a machete can cause such an impact in a monkey cage, what can’t a much more powerful and complex tool like artificial intelligence cause on planet Earth? Artificial intelligence is a tool that can do wonderful things, but also terrible things. It can improve our quality of life, but it can also threaten our existence. It can solve our problems, but also create new ones. It can be our ally, but also our enemy. It all depends on how we humans use it.
Just as the human being is a tool maker, the human being is also a weapon user. Many of the tools that have been invented throughout history have been used to make war as well as to make peace. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one such tool that can have a wide variety of powerful military uses. But it can also have very serious and dangerous consequences.
AI can be applied to warfare in many ways. For example, it can improve the accuracy and speed of surveillance, reconnaissance, and attack systems. It can facilitate coordination and communication between units and commands. You can optimize logistics and maintenance of equipment and infrastructure. It can increase the defense and deterrence capacity against threats.
AI can also bring new problems and challenges. For example, can create autonomous weapons that operate without human supervision or control, raising ethical and legal dilemmas. It can spark an arms race between rival powers, increasing the risk of conflict and escalation. It may be vulnerable to sabotage, hacking, or misuse by malicious actors, threatening security and stability. It can upset the balance of power and global governance, creating uncertainty and tension.
AI increases the ability and danger of the human being. Human beings have always used tools to confront others, either to protect themselves, to attack or to control. Let’s imagine that one country sends an armed AI to another country. AI could be a very effective weapon to achieve a military end, but also very noxious to cause accidental damage. What would countries do with AI? Would they let her through, use her as a threat, hand her out, or fight her over? Would they use it to collaborate or to compete? Would they use it to support themselves or to hurt each other? AI could have very different effects depending on how countries use it. PIt could bring about peace, unleash a war, or even cause an extinction.
Silicon Valley people often put on a superhero cape and talk really cute. But let’s not be fooled, they are not saints from heaven. They move the skeleton for the money. They put out their products to beat the competition as soon as possible, without worrying if they are well made and regulated. And once the product is on the market, the exchange rewards them with millions of dollars in their accounts. Then, when their pockets have been filled, it is when they start talking about the risks and the need for regulation. You don’t have to be an Einstein to know that lawyers and communication departments have had a lot of influence on that decision on the letter.
Although what is done in the letter is not false, the letter in many ways is a masterpiece of hypocrisy and cynicism. The creators of the AI say that they want to avoid the evils that they themselves have caused or propitiated. They say they want to protect humanity from AI, but in reality they want to protect themselves from liability and competition. Yes, the regulation of AI is vitally important. And not because Sam Altman of OpenAI says so.
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