During a recent AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit, the Microsoft founder joined the likes of Elon Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking in stating his belief that Artificial Intelligence will be a future threat to human kind.
The race to create life like interactions with computers has accelerated in recent years with all big software companies spending billions to make a breakthrough. On phones, the likes of Cortana, Siri and Google Now attempt to respond in a human like manner to queries and the Turing test has even been passed by one computer program when users failed to detect whether they were talking to a computer or a human.
Mr Gates wrote:
I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well.
“A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.
The warning from Gates follows a similar statement from Professor Stephen Hawking who had said he felt that machines with AI could “spell the end of the human race”.
Gates’ remarks are contradicted however, by one of Microsoft Research’s chiefs, Eric Horvitz, who has said he “fundamentally” does not see AI as a threat. Horvitz stated that about a quarter of his team’s resources are focused on AI and that being proactive in how we utilise AI we will be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life.
There is agreement between the two in that for the short term at least, AI, or improved machine capabilities, will be beneficial to man. “Even in the next 10 [years,] problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good. Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively,” Mr Gates said.
Certainly we are a long way from Siri or Cortana breaking down our doors but with exciting advancements there is always a certain risk element and if the likes of Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are the ones sounding the warning shouldn’t we take notice?
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