Humans are smarter than other animals.While some animals might be stronger than we are, they lack our brain power. For this simple reason our species has a dominant position on earth. The fate of animals now depends more on us humans than on the animals themselves.

But what if machines one day surpass human brains in general intelligence? Could the same happen to us if machines become more intelligent than we are? Should we be worried? How will we cope?

This summer I did some reading on artificial intelligence (AI), which is generally defined as “the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. It is also the name of the academic field of study which studies how to create computers and computer software that are capable of intelligent behavior,” according to Wikipedia.

AI is already everywhere: Voice recognition, translation machines, surveillance, robots, and smart phones are commonplace. Self-driving cars are already being used.

Computers answer many of our questions.Search engines told me that professor Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (Oxford University Press, 2014) is the number one bestseller on the subject.

Essentially, AI is about how to make machines smart. In the simplified version, we humans feed information to a computer and it solves a problem. In the more sophisticated version,the machine becomes more like a human, which teaches itself through trial and error.

According to some estimates 50 percent of current jobs will be taken over by computers in the next 15 years. A pessimist would say that this is a challenge. True. An optimist would note that this is an opportunity. Equally true.

I am not nearly intelligent enough to understand or even pretend to know where AI will eventually take us. I do, however, believe that we should embrace rather than reject it.

We should see AI as a friend, not the enemy. In a few years, for instance, AI might be able to diagnose human disease better than a doctor. AI should complement,not substitute human intelligence.

There will inevitably be profound ethical and moral issues involved. I would,for instance, find it disturbing if computers became like cloned human beings with emotions.

Can you imagine a crying computer? Or a machine that falls in love with you? I recently asked a neuro- and computer scientist about this and he replied laconically: “We are working on it.” I don’t know about you, but I find the idea rather disturbing.

AI is one of the most important issues for the future of mankind. After all we are introducing a second intelligent species into the world. It is impossible to predict the pace at which AI will advance. It might take decades, or it might proceed much more quickly.

With such a profound change, it is always important to be careful. As author Nick Bostrom argues, we have one advantage – we get to make the first move. We are the ones developing AI, not the other way around.

1 kommentti
  1. Hans-Ulrich Goller-Masalin
    13.04.2016 09.59

    Very good that at least one person in the government is aware of possible danger of rapidly growing AI and technological singularity. (The point from when a computer gets more intelligent as human being).
    There will be not a walking robot be needed. IT or THEY will live in the computers of the internet. IT will be aware of anything we do in the web. Therefore we can no longer use communication across web or phones to fight it. IT well react in a microsecond. We can’nt switch it of as it will escape in multiple copies to other computers in the world. It will develop ITs own software in multiple tiny pieces so that IT can survive even in a huge bunch of smartphones spread across the world.
    I did personally a lot of testing anddeveloping neural networks an genetic algorithms in the early 90th. At that time computers were far to slow. I agree totally with Elon Musk, Ray Kurzweil and many others that singularity will com in our near future.
    Alexander Stubb, I have thought about what AI might do with humans. I have thought scenarios how Suomi might be able to survive the technological singularity (maybe better;). Lets get in contact….if you like.