As described in my May 25th post, the development and implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing, expected to be massive, and is bringing numerous old and new issues to the forefront. What ten observations, attitudes, and adjustments would serve us best?
First, AI evolution will be a process of discovery about us and the world. What do human beings really want? Do we truly make decisions of our own volition? Do we ultimately want more than our own comfort and enjoyment? If we discover that all objective knowledge stems from algorithms, what will that eventually mean to us? These questions and many more may someday be answered by progress in this field.
Second, while autonomous vehicles represent the largest single change we anticipate facing in the 21st century, their technology is only a subset of AI, which is like a massive computer system with driverless cars only one of its applications.
Third, accordingly, AI, itself, presents a multicentury-level challenge. Its significance is hard to overestimate.
Fourth, because of data mining discoveries, some of our core values and wishes, such as the inherent equality of groups of people, may get the most serious nonideological challenges they ever have, and may even be essentially proven false. If such happens, after and during a long time of denial, large sections of our belief systems will be overturned. We need to prepare for that.
Fifth, AI may seem brilliant, but as with other computer applications it is intrinsically totally stupid. It has no common sense and no idea of what it is doing. The ancient data processing law of garbage in, garbage out applies with AI as much as it ever has, with bad assumptions or instructions capable of causing totally false conclusions.
Sixth, while we can debate the dangers of research into artificial general intelligence, it is wrong to try to suppress progress on the narrow version. As its scope is limited, it will serve us without threatening to take over.
Seventh, we need to avoid hating or attributing conspiracies to AI simply because it is major change.
Eighth, we must think flexibly about AI, and deal with its problems using logic instead of ideology. It will leave neither conservative nor liberal philosophies unscathed, so we, as individuals as well as collectively, need to consider the values of both sides when assessing and dealing with it.
Ninth, the potential AI-caused mass employment-opportunity elimination means we need to start discussing possible jobs-crisis solutions. We’re seeing that now with guaranteed basic income, but need more there, along with more serious debate on assured government employment, payments for online content contribution, shorter working hours, and a more widespread use of ad hoc or “gig” jobs. True, these are mainly solutions for future problems, but we may need one or more of these as soon as the 2020s.
Tenth, on the nonpolitical issue of dealing with artificial intelligence, we need to remember we are Americans and work with those of other backgrounds and beliefs. For once. Yet again, our choice is between living together as brothers and perishing together as fools.