Tech Tuesday: Preparing for the Robotic Empathy Crisis



Terminator-T800-Robot.jpgYou would think we have learned lessons from Science Fiction. We were warned about it in classic television anthologies like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. We were given a terrifying cautionary tale with the Terminator films. And then you have the endless amount of short stories and novels that tell the human race while innovation is a beautiful thing, there are concerns we should consider.

What are we talking about? We’re talking about Artificial Intelligence and the worst case scenario.

Author and astrophysicist David Brin believes that humans have a range of options to keep in mind when trying to prevent AI systems or AI entities from one day ruling over us like monarchs and foreign invaders. Elon Musk is worried about A.I.’s growing too smart as well. Within three to five years we will have entities—either in the physical world or online—that will demand empathy, claim to be fully intelligent, claim to be enslaved beings, claim to be oppressed intelligences, and will demand equal rights. Thousands upon thousands of protesters will be in the streets demanding rights for AI, Brin predicts, and those who aren’t immediately convinced will be analyzed by the AI. It sounds like a science fiction novel, that’s true, but we are standing on the cusp of such a situation; and those who fight for A.I. right may or may not be deemed “worthy” if the A.I. takes control.  

If the AI can fool 40% of the people who march on the streets, AI will analyze the other 60% who weren’t fooled and figure out how to fool them. And it learns by doing, and so it gets better and better at fooling people. Brin says this will become an issue sooner rather than later; and the longer we wait to content with this, the more serious of a danger this will become. If we are to protect ourselves from the worst-case scenario happening, the time for us to deal with this is now.

So Brin delivered his advice alongside other AI researchers from companies like Google and Baidu at The AI Conference of 2017. He strongly believes that people should be concerned about disruptive technology developed in secrecy—particularly A.I. Secrecy is where things go haywire. Now Wall Street does the most secretive work in AI. More than universities actually. People should also be concerned about what is going on in Russia and China. In fact the Defense Department thinks the biggest threat with China and Russia is the development of AI as they can have accelerated development of software capacities and we may not be able to catch up with this.

And this was warned by the book the Singularity: once we reach a point where A.I. systems are smarter than human beings they will accelerate quickly and the first country to cross the singularity is going to win the arms battle.

So we must beware and be careful.



shurtz.jpgA research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratford University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.