Physicist Stephen Hawking has not changed his stance towards the prospects of an all-out AI domination of humanity. Now, the author and cosmologist reiterates his warnings by pointing out robots can be a useful way of oppressing other classes if used by the rich. He also acknowledges the potential of a humanity enriched by AI but only if engineers have a firm grasp on implementing proper ethics.
The speech was held by the popular physicist at the Web Summit in Lisbon where Hawking expressed his reticence towards having robot helpers.
„We cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it” he said.
There are potential benefits to having our very own robot force such as reducing poverty, curing diseases, and even reducing pollution. The variables, however, are still up in the air at this point according to the author. Hawking also points to the possibility of a sentient race of machines that don’t agree with humanity’s prospects and subsequently lead to conflict.
For such an advance in robotics to be considered healthy, the physicist urged for maximising a society’s benefits rather than making AI simply for capability’s sake.
High profile speakers such as the European Union’s commissioner for Competition Margarethe Vestager and United Nations Secretary-General Antonito Guterres graced the stage to talk about possible solutions for reducing inequality. Vestager thinks society needs to put people first and technology second to have a healthy symbiosis.
They were joined by Kernel founder Bryan Johnson in acknowledging that we are on the verge of the „most consequential revolution in the history of the human race.” Johnson knows that AI is a double-edged sword and the only thing we can do to handle it with success is to adapt as a species.