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  • Bob Kohn

Stephen Hawking Sounds AI Alarm

In today's Independent, famed-physicist Stephen Hawking joined several colleagues in sounding the alarm about the risks of artificial intelligence.

Writing in the wake of the release of the Johnny Depp film Transcendence, it would be a "mistake," Hawking says, "to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction," perhaps "our worst mistake in history."

Success in creating AI, he says, would be the biggest event in human history, affording us huge potential benefits, including the eradication of war, disease, and poverty. Yet, it could be the last, as the technology outsmarts financial markets, out-invents human researchers, out-manipulates human leaders, and develops weapons we cannot even understand.

In the face of such risks, one would expect much is being done to address these risks. "Wrong," says Hawking. "If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, 'We'll arrive in a few decades,' would we just reply, 'OK, call us when you get here – we'll leave the lights on'? Probably not – but this is more or less what is happening with AI."

"All of us," concludes Hawking, "should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks."

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