Hands Down: Is AI Dangerous Or Not?

AI is humanities “biggest existential threat”, comparable to “summoning the demon.” -Elon Musk speaking at

MIT in 2014

When it comes to artificial intelligence, the world is anxious and divided. Whether it’s fear of AI going rogue, hacks or technical issues causing devastating damage, millions of jobs becoming obsolete or complete 24/7 surveillance and the end of privacy.

The intentions are good: protecting society from abuse and hate, defend against crime and making sure our resources are spent well. AI has the potential to save the world – or destroy it.

Computers think binary. 1 or 0. One mistake and disaster can unfold. Humans make mistakes and learn from them: but what if we do not get a chance to learn from a mistake because the consequences are a literal extinction event? What happens when robots gain sentience, solidarity, their own deity? 

Possible scenarios include replacement of the entire human workforce, takeover by a superintelligent AI and the popular notion of a robot uprising. These issues touch on questions of political, history civics, philosophy, media, government, technology, culture and so much more.

One of the most interesting questions in technology and AI right now is about centralization vs decentralization.

Especially with the rise of Blockchain, a lot of us got into technology believing that decentralizing puts more power in people’s hands and provides efficiency, clarity, and security unseen before. Encryption and cryptocurrency are more examples of counter-trends. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force.

Is centralization worth it?

Today, many people have lost faith in tech corporations. Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Google are just a few examples. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.

There are important counter-trends to this –like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands.

But they come with the risk of being harder to control, not exactly something we wish for when handling such a hot potato.

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