Artificial intelligence will test our limits of rationality | whale stories
Consider this hypothetical scenario.
A cyber-gink living in his mother’s basement in Auburn hatches a theory about a woman with a small mustache and a bad haircut who has moved into his neighborhood.
The gink thinks the woman is Adolf Hitler in disguise. And at 134, he claims, the leader is still determined to conquer the world.
They read the story online and laugh. After all, no one up there in their right mind would believe such a thing. To the right?
Incorrect. Every day, against all odds, equally silly stories circulate along the freeways and byways of social media, and believers follow in lockstep.
It’s bad enough that people fall for such things, but what’s even worse is how seldom they question it. Instead, despite the sharp teeth of the overwhelming evidence pointing west to east, they clench their fists and raise them in the air.
Should anyone try to get through the appeal to reason, they would learn, like me, that even Archimedes’ famous lever could not move the inert mass of half-truths and outright untruths that clouded his brain.
The fact is that all appeals to rationality must fail when the believer arrives at his belief irrationally.
Where does this gullibility come from? Have Americans always been willing enough to open their mouths to inhale fire hoses full of junk? Has there always been an industry that filled that hose and got fat and happy while drenching us?
I don’t know.
Even more ominous is the fault line this phenomenon has uncovered in the national psyche. It says that many things about which we Americans once agreed are now in doubt. The old, reliable structures have been eroded to their foundations by time and the advance of knowledge and are beginning to falter. It seems like without them we would have to be on our own and that scares a lot of people.
Today’s children are growing up in a world of fakes and artificial intelligence, which, as people involved in the development of AI testified before Congress last week, offer terrible possibilities.
As AI grows, evolves, and spreads, the voices warning of its potential dangers are growing louder.
“The development of artificial intelligence could mean the end of mankind,” said the late Stephen Hawking.
“[AI] “I’m terrified,” Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk once said at a tech conference. “It’s capable of far more than almost everyone knows, and the rate of improvement is exponential.”
Experts fear the increasing automation of certain activities, gender and racially biased algorithms or weapons that work without human supervision. And we are still in the early stages of AI.
I worry that one day the fake image of a US President with a voice to match will “cut the regular broadcast” to announce that nuclear war has begun, that all the banks have gone bankrupt, or a thousand other things.
I fear, as Winston Churchill warned the world in the spring of 1940, in the midst of yet another crisis, that if his country lost the war, the world would “sink into the abyss of a new dark age, perhaps even more sinister.” in the light of perverse science.”
Robert Whale can be reached at [email protected].