Of General AI and Terminators

On April 19th, Forbes Austria opened their doors to talk about the future of Artificial Intelligence. The keynote was held by Ben Goertzel, book author and Chief Scientist at Hanson Robotics.

If this rings any bells, you might know Sophia, a humanoid robot designed to look like Audrey Hepburn:

Ben emphasized the importance of general AI. The AI we are using and advancing right now is narrow AI. It’s the type of Artificial Intelligence that is good at carrying out specific tasks, such as Alpha Go is better than humans at playing the board game Go.

General AI, however, will be able to generalize tasks and also be able to perform when conditions of the tasks change. Ben predicts general AI to take off in the next 3 to 8 years – a paradigm shift that will have a huge impact on human nature. When asked if this doesn’t scare him, he simply said ‘General AI might be scary and dangerous, but so was evolving out of caves’.

Of fear about job loss and future applications

Another topic raised was the fear that AI might take away people’s jobs. Ben laughed and said: ‘ 10 years ago, everyone was afraid that AI might kill us all – like in the Terminator movies. Now, everyone is afraid of loosing their jobs. What are they afraid of – being unemployed the 10 years before the machines kill them?’

According to Ben, the future applications of AI are exiting and widespread. The topics he is most fascinated about are humanoid robots and the combination of AI and humans (eg. A neural lace à la Allan Musk). The latter could help humans to keep up with AI. However, Ben raised a certain issue: not all people might want to be ‘transformed into a cyborg’ and might resist against being advanced by technology. Ben argued that these people might not be able to keep up with the mental capacity of the once deciding to opt-up.

He jokingly said ‘maybe there will be a Zoo of non-technology users’.