Tuesday, 17 January 2017 09:51

Is Artificial Intelligence Safe?

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After seeing the many AI-powered toys, consumer products and smartphones at CES this month, it is important to ask about AI's future and security. This week, tech billionaires from LinkedIn and eBay are donating $20 million to the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Funds to “protect” society from AI. The Fund will distribute money to researchers working on the tough ethical problems raised by AI.

“There’s an urgency to ensure that AI benefits society and minimizes harm,” said LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman. “AI decision-making can influence many aspects of our world – education, transportation, healthcare, criminal justice and the economy – yet data and code behind those decisions can be largely invisible.”

Last year, Elon Musk and other technology leaders invested $1 billion in OpenAI.org, a non-profit artificial intelligence research company whose mission is to assure safe and secure use of Artificial Intelligence.  OpenAI’s mission is “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return,” according to their website.

Musk has been critical of AI and its potential harm.  “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So, we need to be very careful,” said Musk. “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

Musk will be co-chair of the non-profit with technology venture capitalist Sam Altman, who has backed Reddit. Similar initiatives are being funded by IBM, Google and Apple.

 

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