Mankind at a Crossroads: The Future of Our Relation With AI Entities

Mankind at a Crossroads: The Future of Our Relation With AI Entities

Neantro Saavedra-Rivano
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSCI.2020070103
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The focus of this article is an examination of the impact that sentience of AI systems would have on mankind. Although the notion of sentience for AI systems is subject to controversy, we believe that its plausibility confers a sense of urgency to the kind of exercise developed here. For completeness, the article distinguishes the near-future and longer-term impacts of artificial intelligence. While the short-term impact is deemed to be mostly positive, the outlook for longer-term impact is considered to be negative under a variety of scenarios, including the adoption of man-machine symbiosis tools. The main reason for the negative outlook in the latter case is the heterogeneity of the world. This implies that only a privileged minority would benefit from symbiosis, an outcome that makes likely a world dominated by a minority of “superhumans.” These conclusions should not be taken lightly, and this article endeavors to raise the attention of scientists and policymakers. In this connection, the paper offers suggestions as to policy measures which could avert this disastrous outlook.
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Are There Limits To Artificial Intelligence?

This paper is based on the premise that artificial intelligence will eventually reach, and then surpass, human-like capabilities in all human activities associated with intelligent behavior. The premise also holds that AI systems will at some point become self-aware. I hurry to say that the adoption of this premise for the sake of our arguments does not mean necessarily acceptance of its truth but rather the recognition that its plausibility gives a sense of urgency to a careful analysis of its implications. I am of course well aware of the lively discussion on the limits and limitations of artificial intelligence and I believe it is appropriate to provide a concise review of the variety of opinions that have been expressed on this issue.

In order to place this review in its historical context let us go back to the early days of the field. The founders were extremely optimistic about what AI could achieve and also about how quickly these achievements would take place. The following quote, excerpted from a proposal submitted in 1955 to the Rockefeller Foundation, is telling:

We propose that a 2 month, 10 man study of artificial intelligence be carried out during the summer of 1956 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The study is to proceed on the basis of the conjecture that every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines that use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves. We think that a significant advance can be made in one or more of these problems if a carefully selected group of scientists work on it together for a summer. (McCarthy, Minsky, Rochester & Shannon, 1955).

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