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June 28, 2016

AI arms race threat to humanity is real – Hawking

News: Governments won’t stay in control of AI weapons if they evolve quickly, Professor Stephen Hawking warns.


Stephen Hawking has warned humanity of the dangers of fast developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, which are gaining beyond-human capabilities.

The British physicist said that we are getting AI wrong already, the future of AI needs heavy regulation, funding for AI projects beneficial to humans seem to be of low priority and that in all, AI machines could become smarter than humans putting the species in limbo.

In an interview with Larry King on "Larry King Now", Hawking said: "Artificial intelligence has the potential to evolve faster than the human race. Beneficially AI could co-exist with humans.

"[However,] once machines reach the critical stage of being able to evolve themselves, we cannot predict whether their goals will be the same as ours."

Hawking continued to say that governments seem to be engaged in an "AI arms race, designing planes and weapons with intelligent technologies".

He said: "The funding for projects directly beneficial to the human race, such as improved medical screening seems a somewhat lower priority."

The English physicist also said that as AI makes its way into society, the technology will require strong regulations.

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Hawking also said that futurologist Ray Kurweil’s idea that humans and machines could live together in a few decades is "both too simplistic and too optimistic".

He said: "Exponential growth will not continue to accelerate. Something we do not predict will interrupt it, as has happened with similar forecasts in the past. And I do not think that advances in artificial intelligence will necessarily be benign."

This was not the first time the 74-year-old has expressed deep concerns surrounding the latest AI develops that have seen driverless cars take to the roads or robots that resemble human beings being built.

"Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history," wrote Stephen Hawking in an op-ed, which appeared in The Independent in 2014.

"Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. In the near term, world militaries are considering autonomous-weapon systems that can choose and eliminate targets."

Professor Hawking added in a 2014 interview with BBC, "humans, limited by slow biological evolution, could not compete and would be superseded by A.I."

Hawking also joins the likes of Steve Wozniak, who has warned that robots will make humans their pets.

In June, Microsoft’s Bill Gates also pointed that despite AI being the most exciting thing right now, there are two main issues that need addressing: job losses and making sure humans retain control of machines at all times.

Joining the calls for more attention towards AI, was also Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, who shared his worry that AI is only used by a small percentage of people "to the detriment of humanity as a whole" and that "not all AI futures are benign".

Fighting back the concerns raised surrounding AI, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt hit back saying: "In the case of Stephen Hawking, although a brilliant man, he is not a computer scientist. Elon is also a brilliant man, though he too is a physicist, not a computer scientist."

Answering a question at Brilliant Minds back in June, in Stockholm, Schmidt said that humans would notice when and if computers get so smart is that they want to destroy the human race at some point in their evolving intelligence due to some bug

He said: "We’d have a race between humans turning off computers, and the AI relocating itself to other computers, in this mad race to the last computer, and we cannot turn it off, and that is a movie. It is a movie. The state of the earth currently does not support any of these scenarios."

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