I can’t help feeling that the issue of artificial intelligence has been staring at me in the face wherever I’ve looked. It’s certainly very much in the zeitgeist and it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, especially after I finished reading two books on that topic or on that topic among others, I should say.
The two books I read in English and French respectively are Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari and La guerre des intelligences by Laurent Alexandre. I know the first has been translated into French but I don’t think there is an English version of the second at the time of writing this.
My next TBR will probably the so-called Villani report on AI which has just been published. So far, I have only seen the video of a recent TedX talk Cédric Villani gave locally (it was a shame I had to miss that event, I live so close to the venue but I had an unavoidable work commitment. I’m only finding the time now to go through the videos of the day, some interesting stuff there.)
I feel particulary motivated to read up more on the topic for two reasons:
1. That genie definitely cannot be shoved back in the lamp. It’s out, it’s going to stay out and it’s going to get bigger, more powerful and even more omnipresent than it already is.
2. I don’t really understand the underlying technologies or science and I don’t think I’m alone in this.
What I do know is that we all need to take notice and to learn, fast. I’m particularly concerned that legal changes will lag far behind technological progress (and/or AI-induced Amargeddon of course), that there could be fairly chaotic and uncontrolled important developments in the near future and that governments of individual countries will believe they can deal with these by themselves, whereas it seems self-evident to me that never was international cooperation more vital. The world being in the state it’s in, I don’t believe that we’ll get a Star Trek-like United Federation of Planets organisation any time soon but surely we need to operate at the level of a continent or region for these transparently transnational issues.
The huge prize at the bottom of the AI et al rainbow is of course massively improved health, increased prosperity and more fulfilling lives for millions of people. The huge risk is, to my mind, not so much that the machines make slaves of us humans but rather that the above huge prize ends up being very unequally distributed.