Mocking AI Panic
Many people today are concerned by the prospect of out-of-control artificial intelligence. Some call it “killer AI,” “evil AI,” or “malevolent AI.” Billionaires throw money at the “existential risks” posed by ultraintelligent machines: In January, Elon Musk, creator of PayPal and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, donated US $10 million to the Future of Life Institute , in Cambridge, Mass., which is “focusing on potential risks from the development of human-level artificial intelligence.” Other new research institutes with apocalyptic names explore the dangers of “singularity ” scenarios, and Google has recently formed a hush-hush AI ethics board. Actually, history is repeating itself. In the mid-1940s, public reaction to reports of the new “electronic brains” was fearful. Newspapers announced that “the controlled monster” (a room-size vacuum-tube computer) could rapidly beco...