Finally: new fears and new capabilities dominate Artificial intelligence this year
The year 2014 may well be looked back upon in the future as the year that machine intelligence finally came of age. Developments, such as deep learning neural networks, hastened AI (artificial intelligence) applications in recognizing data and objects. Also this year, respected figures in science and technology came out swinging, issuing broad warnings about the dangers latent in AI for the global future.
The physicist Stephen Hawking and the technologist and entrepreneur Elon Musk cited AI as dangerous if not the most dangerous of technologies on humanity’s horizons. The speculations about these dangers and dilemmas have even extended into contemporary literature, fiction not just non-fiction.
E. L. Doctorow’s latest novel, Andrew’s Brain, confronts many of these issues in AI, neural networks, neuroscience and the brain as well as cognitive science: the novel’s protagonist, Andrew, is a cognitive ;scientist. Doctorow discussed these concerns when he appeared on the Charlie Rose TV interview program, earlier this year: Doctorow: “Mapping the brain is noble and its necessary…and if it can figure out about Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, that’s terrific. But, I’ve just projected in this book, where Andrew suggests [the idea]:
“Supposing we do figure out how the brain works. If that happens, then we can build a computer that has consciousness. If that ever happened, and it won’t for a long, long time, all the stories we’ve been living by are finished. The Bible, all those Bronze Age mythological senses we have of ourselves as human beings are gone, finished. That could be as disastrous as an asteroid hitting the planet. Now, I’m giving you [the character] Andrew’s read on this… he’s a bit of a hysteric.”