I sometimes wonder if hype about artificial intelligence, the wonderful or terrible things it will do for or to us, functions as a deliberate distraction. It distracts us from the genuine and sinister threat of humans using “smart” technology to harvest other human beings as data, objectifying us and making privacy a forgotten thing of the past.
Contrast the silly story the other day about IBM’s “debating” computer with the media craze for pushing seriously creepy “smart homes” that help people spy on you. On AI and its promise or danger, Discovery Institute has entered in a big way into the task of sorting reality from fantasy. Senior Fellow Jay Richards’s new book, The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines, is out this week. And next month Discovery introduces a brand new program, the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence, headed by Baylor University’s Robert J. Marks.
The Bradley Center officially launches on Wednesday, July 11 in Seattle, and we hope you will join us to celebrate, meet the new Fellows of the Center, and participate in a fascinating panel discussion. More information is here. The panelists, including Dr. Marks, are scientists with an appropriately strong humanistic and philosophical bent: mathematician William Dembski; neuroscientist Michael Egnor of Stony Brook University; and Microsoft data scientist George Montañez. Discovery Institute Fellow Walter Bradley, who co-authored the pioneering book The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, and for whom the Center is named, will be the guest of honor.
The place and time: the William Allen Theater at the Museum of Flight, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. Registration is required and you can do that here. The question for the evening will be “Will the Machines Take Over? Human Uniqueness in the Age of Smart Machines.” The event is FREE.
A question I’d like to pose to the Fellows of the Bradley Center is whether the scaremongering about AI — it will put us all out of work, robots will take over, etc. — is being used deliberately to keep us from noticing how companies like Google and Amazon are using technology to milk us like cows, and will continue to do so as we fall for shiny promises of things like “smart homes.”
And what about the transparent overlap in agendas between AI hucksters and hardcore materialists, both of whom wish to persuade us that human beings aren’t the unique creations of a purpose-driven intelligence, so that machines can and will take our place. Is this just the rotten spirit of the age, driving both currents in our culture? Or are they knowingly tag-teaming us?
I hope to see you at Seattle’s Flight Museum where we’ll have the opportunity to ask and find out.