Artificial intelligence research is now progressing rapidly. And this research can be discussed as short-term and long-term. Some short-term concerns relate to autonomous vehicles, from civilian drones and self-driving cars. For example, a self-driving car may, in an emergency, have to decide between a small risk of a major accident, and a large probability of a small accident.
Other concerns relate to lethal intelligent autonomous weapons. Should they be banned. If so, how should autonomy be precisely defined. If not, how should culpability for any misuse or malfunction be apportioned. Other issues include privacy concerns, as AI becomes increasingly able to interpret large surveillance datasets, and how to best manage the economic impact of jobs displaced by AI.
Long-term concerns, comprise primarily of the potential loss of control of AI systems, via the rise of super-intelligences that do not act in accordance with human wishes, and that such powerful systems would threaten humanity. Are such dystopic outcomes possible.
If so, how might these situations arise. What kind of investments in research should be made, to better understand and to address the possibility of the rise of a dangerous super-intelligence, or the occurrence of an intelligence explosion.
Existing tools for harnessing AI, such as reinforcement learning, and simple utility functions, are inadequate to solve this. Therefore more research is necessary to find and validate a robust solution to the control problem.
Recent landmarks, such as the self-driving cars already mentioned, or a computer winning at the game of Go, are signs of what is to come. Enormous levels of investment are pouring into this technology.
The achievements we have seen so far, will surely pale against what the coming decades will bring, and we cannot predict what we might achieve, when our own minds are amplified by AI.
Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one, industrialisation. Every aspect of our lyves will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation.
But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. I have said in the past that the development of full AI, could spell the end of the human race, such as the ultimate use of powerful autonomous weapons. Earlier this year, I, along with other international scientists, supported the United Nations convention to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons.
We await the outcome with nervous anticipation. Currently, nine nuclear powers have access to roughly 14,000 nuclear weapons, any one of which can obliterate cities, contaminate wide swathes of land with radioactive fall-out, and the most horrible hazard of all, cause a nuclear-induced winter, in which the fires and smoke might trigger a global mini-ice age.
The result is a complete collapse of the global food system, and apocalyptic unrest, potentially killing most people on earth. We scientists bear a special responsibility for nuclear weapons, since it was scientists who invented them, and discovered that their effects are even more horrific than first thought.
At this stage, I may have possibly frightened you all here today, with talk of doom. I apologise. But it is important that you, as attendees to today's conference, recognise the position you hold in influencing future research and development of today's technology.
I believe that we join together, to call for support of international treaties, or signing letters presented to individual governmental powers. Technology leaders and scientists are doing what they can, to obviate the rise of uncontrollable AI.
In October last year, I opened a new center in Cambridge, England, which will attempt to tackle some of the open-ended questions raised by the rapid pace of development in AI research. The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, is a multi-disciplinary institute, dedicated to researching the future of intelligence, as crucial to the future of our civilisation and our species. We spend a great deal of time studying history, which let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.
So it's a welcome change, that people are studying instead the future of intelligence. We are aware of the potential dangers, but I am at heart an optimist, and believe that the potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world, by industrialisation.
Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. My colleague at the institute, Huw Price, has acknowledged that the center came about partially as a result of the university’s Centre for Existential Risk. That institute examines a wider range of potential problems for humanity, while the Leverhulme Centre has a more narrow focus.
Recent developments in the advancement of AI, include a call by the European Parliament for drafting a set of regulations, to govern the yooss and creation of robots and AI. Somewhat surprisingly, this includes a form of electronic personhood, to ensure the rights and responsibilities for the most capable and advanced AI.
A European Parliament spokesman has commented, that as a growing number of areas in our daily lyves are increasingly affected by robots, we need to ensure that robots are, and will remain, in the service of humans.
The report as presented to MEPs, makes it clear that it believes the world is on the cusp of a new industrial robot revolution. It examines whether or not providing legal rights for robots as electronic persons, on a par with the legal definition of corporate personhood, would be permissible.
But stresses that at all times, researchers and designers should ensure all robotic design incorporates a kill switch. This didn't help the scientists on board the spaceship with Hal, the malfunctioning robotic computer in Kubrick’s two thousand and one, a Space Odyssey, but that was fiction. We deal with fact. Lorna Brazell, a partner at the multinational law firm Osborne Clarke, says in the report, that we don’t give whales and gorillas personhood, so there is no need to jump at robotic personhood.
But the wariness is there. The report acknowledges the possibility that within the space of a few decades, AI could surpass human intellectual capacity, and challenge the human robot relationship. Finally, the report calls for the creation of a European agency for robotics and AI, that can provide technical, ethical, and regulatory expertise. If MEPs vote in favor of legislation, the report will go to the European Commission, which has three months to decide what legislative steps it will take.
We too, have a role to play in making sure the next generation has not just the opportunity, but the determination, to engage fully with the study of science at an early level, so that they can go on to fulfil their potential, and create a better world for the whole human race.
This is what I meant, when I was talking to you just now about the importance of learning and education. We need to take this beyond a theoretical discussion of how things should be, and take action, to make sure they have the opportunity to get on board. We stand on the threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting, if precarious place to be, and you are the pioneers. I wish you well.