Much of the coverage in mass media about artificial intelligence and machine learning tends towards an alarmist position about robots taking over the world. In most examples, there’ll be a picture of the Terminator robot and a reference to the Elon Musk / Stephen Hawking claim that we should be afraid of AI.
I’ve written before that this isn’t really the problem that we should be thinking about. Instead, it’s the simpler narrow AI that will constantly erode jobs by carrying out specific tasks that today requires humans to do.
In an article by Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone magazine, it appears that this point of view is finally reaching the mainstream press:
In fact, the problem with the hyperbole about killer robots is that it masks the real risks that we face from the rise of smart machines – job losses due to workers being replaced by robots, the escalation of autonomous weapons in warfare, and the simple fact that the more we depend on machines, the more we are at risk when something goes wrong, whether it’s from a technical glitch or a Chinese hacker.
The last point is intriguing too. Machine Learning models are particularly opaque. Researchers understand how the algorithms learn. What’s not clear is why they are so effective in doing what they do.
But the main point is that progress won’t stop AI being deployed to do the work of people. The questions now are how will it be managed and how will society adapt?