Artificial intelligence is a Pandora’s box. What’s in there, and what will it mean for the future of humanity?
Get a glimpse tomorrow when Discovery Institute launches the new Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence with an event at the William Allen Theater at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. The launch itself is overbooked and we had to shut down registration. But good news! We’ll be live-streaming it right here, so you can join us online from 7:30 to 9:30 pm Pacific time.
The panel discussion will include new Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks in company with William Dembski, Michael Egnor, George Montañez, and guest of honor Walter Bradley himself — all scientists with a fascinating philosophical and spiritual bent. The theme for the evening: “Will the Machines Take Over? Human Uniqueness in the Age of Smart Machines.”
Deep thinkers like the late Stephen Hawking have predicted doom and asserted that machines are on a path to achieving consciousness and taking over. I don’t think that’s very likely — consciousness as we understand it seems pretty certain to remain the unique preserve of mankind.
At the same time I’m not an optimist about the mischief and unintended consequences of “smart machines” and the uses and abuses to which human beings will put them. Machines have, in a sense, already taken over, as you can confirm next time you are standing in line at Starbucks where every single person in line with you is staring intently at and fiddling with a smart phone. Almost every parent knows the challenge of trying to unglue your children from their own screens, which are built to addict and are farming us for our interests and information at every moment.
Hacking your “smart” home, car, even your refrigerator to spy on and otherwise mess with you are just a few examples of future prospects I’m not looking forward to. Our colleague Jay Richards has written about both the promise and promised disruptions in his important new book The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines.
The rest I probably can’t even begin to anticipate, but our new Bradley Center Fellows, I know, will have important insights to share. Be sure to join us at 7:30 pm Pacific for a very stimulating conversation.
Image: Pandora and her box, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.