Call for regulation of Artificial Intelligence is premature

Astronomer Royal Martin Rees says artificial intelligence needs to be regulated in this video below, as reported in the Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom.

[Click here to see the video. It’s hosted on Ooyala and I can’t get it to embed properly on my blog. If you know how, please let me know!]

The basis of his argument is that computers have rapidly progressed in speed, beating the world chess champion Gary Kasparov along the way. As such, they may be able to learn in the future and interact with us as a human would.

If they get that far, then we should be concerned about keeping them under our control. He references that some people in AI are already concerned about how they should be regulated in a similar way that biotechnology is regulated.

There are a few points worth bearing in mind about this call to regulate.

  1. The examples he mentions are all forms of “narrow” Artificial Intelligence (or ANI). Today this is where most AI research is: narrowly focused on specific problem domains. Such AIs are tailored to those problems and don’t work on other problems.
  2. The is a large leap from ANI to AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), which you or I would recognise from its portrayal in numerous films (see The Terminator). Research has not made any significant inroads into creating anything approaching an AGI.
  3. Calls for regulating AGIs are definitely premature. We may equally call for regulation of mining on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, so far away from AGI as we are now.

There is one important step that has been overlooked. ANIs will make a huge impact on society, carrying out specific tasks and jobs that today are carried out by humans.mIt is this that needs to be examined in detail by a wide range of people, including economists, sociologists, and policy makers.

The Astronomer Royal asks: ‘Can we keep robots under control?’ – Telegraph.

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