Should we be worried about the Technological Singularity?


Technological Singularity is based on the prediction that the development of AI powerful enough to surpass human intelligence will change the world as we know it, leading either to a catastrophic end of the human kind or to its miraculous ascent.

In a recent article in the Guardian, Alan Winfield, professor of electronic engineering at the University of the West of England, Bristol, discusses the pitfalls of being overly pessimistic or optimistic about the Technological Singularity.

In his judgment, the best way to approach the issue is to be both a little cautious and at the same time a little optimistic. The key, of course, is remaining within reasonable limits. For instance, believe it or not, the risk of an Apocalyptic event induced by an almighty AI is unreasonable, because it requires a very improbable sequence of events to occur, one of them being the very invention of such AI, which, according to Winfield, may be as far in the future as the invention of faster than light travel.

So for those on the other side of the spectrum who think that the arrival of ultra-sophisticated AI is inevitable in our life-time and will solve all our problems, you should probably let it go. Yes, AI systems are all around us today: they can drive cars, recognize speech and do dozens of other useful things, often making humans look silly. However, human intelligence is not about reaching perfection in one task. It is about learning, generalizing what has been learned, creating new knowledge, understanding meaning and context, and of course, being self-aware. These goals are far beyond our current understanding of AI.

The singularity talk, as Alan Winfield notes, is not completely innocent. Being too pessimistic or optimistic about the Technological Singularity is to indulge in the fallacy of privileging the hypothesis. Focusing on some hypothetical apocalyptic scenario may not be the best of ideas, when we should be focused on combating more pressing and equally apocalyptic scenarios such as climate change.

You can read the full story by Alan Winfield in the Guardian HERE.

Read our previous post on singularity to learn about another take on the issue.

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