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Here we are inhabiting about 3/10 of a fragile little speck of dust. Suspended in a universe of such enormous scale that we might not be around for long enough to explore even 0.00001% of it. But it is an inspiring thought – to know that your finite, but strive for eternity; to be hungry for knowledge in the face of the dark; and to never stop gazing upwards… waiting for that one glimpse of your future, when everything is the silence of the cosmos and you drift away into the abyss still hoping to unravel the unknown.
This is the full uncut speech by Richard Dawkins at the ‘Protest the Pope’ rally, 18th September 2010.
Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are famous for their mistrust of artificial intelligence. The two, along with a group of equally concerned scientists and engineers, have released an open letter calling for the prevention of an autonomous robotic army, warning of the disastrous consequences for humanity and future advancements. You can read the full letter here.
“If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: Autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow.”
Isn’t it about time we started spending more money on science and less on finding more creative ways to kill one another? I don’t know. That’s just me.
I’d like to point out that I am quite excited about artificial intelligence and have no problem with its development. The benefits outweigh the risks. But I do have concerns just like Hawking and Musk do.
In the eyes of history humanity’s made a big leap from barely being able to figured out how to use tools to the technological giants we think we are now compared to each other. This, however, doesn’t undermine the fact that we could also be considered the most immature creatures on the planet. Wars, torture, meaningless suffering, religion… The list goes on and on. Yes, it is true that I can’t compare our moral or immoral deeds with those of the monkey but the possibility of overwriting our initial instincts is a frightening thing at this current point in time. We’ve endured so much since we were first able to think, but considering the amount of time we’ve spent on Earth as thinking beings, we are still very young and have much to learn.
Back to the problem at hand. It’s not a rare event to see men comparing the size of their penises. It’s always the same thing: one person figures out that he could kill others with a specific weapon and suddenly everyone else wants to have it in order to level the playing field until one day the only thing left to ‘level’ is flatness the Earth… if there even is an Earth to speak of.
The use of AI will create tension between countries mainly on a political level. The fear of someone misusing this technology is justified. We don’t need any more war machines. We never should’ve had the need for them in the first place. Remember the last time a country decided to show its power? Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We are supposed to be better than that.
“In summary, we believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways, and that the goal of the field should be to do so. Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.”
AI could provide so many benefits to humans. The possibilities are limitless. At the same time if used for war, we might find ourselves cheering for the machines as they enslave nations and destroy all ethical boundaries for the sake of someone’s ego.
This is not just a question of ethics. It is a way of shaping human nature as a whole. It’ll become a new ground for measuring the human character. If you want to test a man’s character, give him the power of AI.
Stop taking pride in your dicks and improve the quality of your deeds.
Learn More: Big Think