OH LOOK IT'S ANOTHER WARNING about the threat artificial intelligence (AI) poses to humanity, only this time coming from Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Despite his company ploughing shed loads of effort into developing smart software and AIs in the form of the Google Assistant and DeepMind's tech, Brin noted in Google's annual 'Founders' Letter' that AI has created a "technology renaissance" that brings with it a load of threats.
Quoting Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, Brin noted AI developments bring in the "best of times" and "the worst of times", noting there are benefits and pitfalls to AI adoption only in a slightly pretentious manner.
"We're in an era of great inspiration and possibility, but with this opportunity comes the need for tremendous thoughtfulness and responsibility as technology is deeply and irrevocably interwoven into our societies," he wrote.
Brin extolled the virtues of AI in not only boosting things like image recognition in Google Photos, but ut how AI can help doctors diagnose new diseases or discover new planetary systems, stuff that's basically more noteworthy than some clever picture tagging or captioning of YouTube videos.
But as AI grows, Brin noted, it raises some questions. And while he didn't do the classic 'OMG robots are going to destroy us all' thing in the manner of AI sceptics Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates, he did give a nod towards the potential dangers of very smart tech.
"Such powerful tools also bring with them new questions and responsibilities. How will they affect employment across different sectors? How can we understand what they are doing under the hood? What about measures of fairness? How might they manipulate people? Are they safe?" he wrote.
"There is serious thought and research going into all of these issues. Most notably, safety spans a wide range of concerns from the fears of sci-fi style sentience to the more near-term questions such as validating the performance of self-driving cars."
As such, Brin is showing more real-world concerns of AI-powered systems replacing human jobs or being used to spread propaganda and fake news rather than rise up and enslave humanity in vats of goop in order to use them as bio-batteries.
Like many select committees and bodies peering into AI creation, Brin suggested that there needs to be some "serious thought" into AI development and its potential negative effects.
"There are very legitimate and pertinent issues being raised, across the globe, about the implications and impacts of these advances. This is an important discussion to have," he wrote.
"While I am optimistic about the potential to bring technology to bear on the greatest problems in the world, we are on a path that we must tread with deep responsibility, care, and humility."
While its good to see legitimate rather than the more fantastical AI concerns get focused upon, there was an air of finality in Brin's letter, as though we're already on the path to an AI world and there's not much we can do to stop it, only lessen its scope for negative impact. Happy May Day....µ
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