There are two scenarios being touted. The Muskian one where robots kill us and take over the world - also known as the let's get to Mars A.S.A.P version. Zuckerberg and gang (including Larry Page and Ray Kurzweil) see things differently. They are ushers for the great union between humans and machines. Think what you may, but the frenzy has brought fundamental questions to the forefront concerning our ethics, values, and creativity.
One of the major talking points when we discuss AI surrounds narrow versus general intelligence. IBM's Deep Blue may be a killer chess player but is entirely useless as a barista. This type of specialized AI is dubbed weak. All the hoopla relates to general intelligence. Also called strong AI, it has full cognitive abilities to function as well (or even better) than a human mind.
Thus far, the robots augmenting our creative pursuits are super specialized. Lurking in the shadows are robots fervently writing news articles, coding websites, managing ads, cooking meals, creating TV shows, making art, and dropping beats. As new and different jobs are created in the robotic era, it's almost certain they will not be filled by those who were displaced. And when autonomous soldiers wage our wars - we'll have a major crisis on our hands. Armies with increasingly more 'unmanned assets' does not play out well for us mere mortals.
The Lonely Arcade
Robert Bolton is the head of the foresight studio at innovation firm Idea Couture. He describes one future scenario that's akin to a "Post-work, AI-enabled hyper abundant society" -- a world where automation has been so successful that luxury communism runs amok.
Countless years of full-time drudgery finally comes to an end. This next iteration of work resembles a lonely arcade. In this abundant world, the arcaders face the predicament of finding meaning without having anything to contribute. "People struggle to define unique identities - with no apparent reason to develop a talent, practice creativity, engage their intellectual curiosity, or achieve much of anything, many people are left feeling purposeless, unmotivated, unfulfilled and alone," says Bolton.
Of course, this is just a hypothetical. Futurist Kevin Kelly makes a compelling argument for why Super AI is a total myth. He explains that the one big misconception is believing that intelligence is linear. Like Richard Dawkins and other figures of the intelligentsia, he compares intelligence to a genealogy mandala - or ecosystem.It's not something that we can 'solve', rather intelligence is wonderfully complex and exists across a range of dimensions.
London-based creative director and educator, Mo-Ling Chiu, says that AI is quickly improving in the cognitive and physical arenas. It's in the realm of feelings that AI still has ways to go. "We need to better develop the affective domain - feeling, emotional intelligence and complexity. This differentiates human capacity from AI, or rather it will help us command and collaborate more effectively with the machines," explains Chiu.
She cites Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy as a useful lens through which to view AI; knowledge, skills, and attitudes are learning behaviors that we continually master. So it will rest with the machines to learn how to learn in order to reach these higher levels of thinking.
Apocalypse or Transcendence?
The next decade is bound to reveal which side will win the debate. My chips are on Zuckerberg and gang. Right now there are more pressing world affairs that might lead to an apocalypse more so than rogue robots. With intelligent machines, we may just continue to work smarter like we've been able to do with calculators, cars, planes, word processors, excel, and search engines before.
Philosopher Nick Bostrom thinks general AI could destroy humanity. They would prioritize their goals over anything else, including human life. He argues that If a company exists to create superintelligence then it must have a business mission to succeed. If and when it does, we will face technological singularity.
If you were wondering specifically when Singularity will happen, it's 2045 to be more precise. But until then, what If I were to tell you that a robot wrote this article? How would you feel? What if you discovered that Bruno Mars was a mechanical mind and 'Uptown Funk' was manufactured by an algorithm? How would you feel?
Here's an idea, let's just ask Siri.