Robot overlords? Pah, it’s the human idiots we should be wary of


Humans are the problem, not smart machines, says Oxford professor

In the 1940s, science fiction author Isaac Asimov coined the term “robotics”, and wrote about robots with artificial intelligence rising up against us.

As technology has progressed, sometimes faster than we can adjust to it, humans have been charged up with an odd internal dissonance when it comes to robots.

We are surrounded and obsessed by electronic devices like phones and computers, which do an increasing amount of thinking for us. But we fear falling under their control.

But this makes our fear of AI even more laughable. We’re frightened of the dawn of the Terminator, but many of us are content with Siri’s eerie presence in our pocket, leading us ever further down the road to technological dependency.

But like our politicians’ obsessive focus and spending on tackling international terrorism instead of the far more deadly clean air problem, (if you look exclusively at the numbers), a recurring illogical aspect of life today is our predilection for concentrating our energies on negligible risks that excite our imaginations more.

The perceived risks of AI are the subject of a sustained attack by University of Oxford professor of philosophy and ethics of information, Luciano Floridi, who writes, “anxieties about super-intelligent machines are […] scientifically unjustified”. 

He challenges Stephen Hawking’s view that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”.

He has similarly little time for Tesla founder Elon Musk’s claim that AI is “potentially more dangerous than nukes”.

Writing in the FT, Floridi says: “No AI version of Godzilla is about to enslave us, so we should stop worrying about science fiction and start focusing on the actual challenges that AI poses. In the final analysis, humans, and not smart machines, are the problem, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

He also remains unconvinced that any machine will pass the Turing test any time soon.

To pass the test a human, speaking to a robot, must be unsure 70% of the time, whether they are actually speaking to a human or a robot.

So perhaps its time for us to worry about more pressing matters.

With that said, maintain your misplaced paranoia for a moment longer, and check out our article on which jobs robots are going to steal from us first.

Now read