He reiterated his fear of the potential of A.I. to bring about the end of human civilization as we know it in an interview with the BBC. "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," he warned, as a machine spoke for him.
That kind of A.I. - the primitive technology we use today to overcome obstacles - has been very useful to humanity, Hawking will submit, but he fears for the long term as A.I. becomes increasingly more powerful. Could humans lose their grip on intelligent machines one day?
The pessimistic commentators in this debate cite the potential for artificial intelligence to quickly surpass that of a human being, and could eventually lead to intelligence re-making itself in order to become more and more powerful, or that it may experience a form of "technological evolution" at a pace vastly more rapid than the biological evolution that developed human intelligence.
Such super-smart intelligences may find human affairs totally unimportant, and may even see humanity as a hindrance.
For more optimistic commentators, artificial intelligence may solve problems that are simply beyond us right now and may be for some time yet. It might be a mistake to just assume that an A.I. would have the same evolved survivalist traits of natural species on Earth, or have any reason to become hostile.
Either way, most people do suggest we proceed with caution, but there is even a debate about when we should expect to see such intelligent systems.
Futurists like Ray Kurzweil are predicting A.I. with consciousness in a matter of a few decades, while others believe it could take centuries. Bill Gates, for example, suggested that A.I. on that level will take at least five times longer than Ray Kurzweil thinks it will. Gates was responding to a question on Q&A in Australia, and also said he believed that problems with machine intelligence are solvable, but that we have far more immediately important things to worry about. When asked about the potential for insect-sized drones invading buildings and assassinating people, Gates replied that we already have problems with real insects invading homes and killing people, "it's called malaria."
On the question of whether Artificial Intelligence is even possible, most who chime in on the subject seem to be sure that it is. Why wouldn't they be? Natural intelligence exists, and if nature can create it, then why can't it be reverse engineered?
Sources and Recommended Reading:
Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind: www.bbc.com
Written by: James Delahunty @ 4 Dec 2014 16:20