Should We Fear A.I.?

It is very telling that almost every portrayal of artificial intelligence in science fiction is a cynical one: A.I. is almost always prone to rebelling against, dominating, or otherwise coming into conflict with humanity. Judging by the continued prevalence and widespread acceptance of this trope, it appears that there is an inherent, almost universal perception that A.I. is bad news for our species.

But as neuroscientist and public intellectual Sam Harris points out in a recent TED Talk, it is precisely this fun, narrative take on A.I. that seems to make us less willing to take these scenarios seriously. He argues that artificial intelligence, while still worth pursuing for all its potential benefits — eliminating dangerous and menial labor, assisting in more efficient allocation and distribution of resources, etc. — has a host of very real risks that must be sufficiently discussed, debated, and taken into consideration as we come ever-closer to making science fiction reality.

At around fifteen minutes, it makes what I think to be a compelling case, so I recommend you check it out. As always, feel free to share your thoughts.

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