A few months ago, I was part of a team that made a presentation to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church about the intersection of the Science, Technology and Faith. It was, as is typical, a wide-ranging conversation. But during the Q&A session, one bishop asked me, “given what I know, what keeps me up at night with worry about the future?”
My answer was “The misuse of Artificial Intelligence.” I stand by that. I think the tech is developing much faster than we are prepared for. The impact it will make, or is making, is racing ahead of our ability to anticipate the consequences and the moral impact.
I’m not alone in this apparently.
The spread of misinformation is only Hinton’s immediate concern. On a longer timeline he’s worried that AI will eliminate rote jobs, and possibly humanity itself as AI begins to write and run its own code.
“The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people — a few people believed that,” said Hinton to the NYT. “But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. Obviously, I no longer think that.”
I get that we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. But it seems to me that we should be treating the field of AI with the same serious attention that we paid to nuclear armaments back in the day. And I haven’t seen that happening yet – as we’re totally being pantsed by the spreading culture wars much less our inability to deal with climate change.
I want to be hopeful. But it’s going to take people like Hinton and his colleagues to keeping ringing the alarm bell.