Monday, January 25, 2016

The question is not whether you can do something, but should you do that something

There was this scene in the movie Jurassic Park, in which the mathematician asks that very question.  Even if you had the ability to make prehistoric creatures come back to life, should you do it?

There are some folks who don't think there should be limits.  That's the conflict in that story, but it is not just a story.  It is a question that needs to be asked for now on as humankind advances its technology.

I got that sense of conflict in reading this discussion about artificial intelligence.  The writer seems to be in the no limits crowd, and is critical of those who would question the continued development of artificial intelligence.  Amongst those who do question it are a couple of quite famous people- Elon Musk and Steven Hawking.

Someone may have noticed my own enthusiasm for technologies that are feared.  I favor nuclear energy and space colonization.  Not to mention my opposition to the Limits to Growth notion.  But there are those who fear material progress and are holding these technologies back.  I suspect the reasons for holding back are not good enough.

These should not be held back if there are good reasons for their advancement.  I think there are good reasons for molten-salt reactors and space colonization.  But AI is something that we don't know enough about.  If the genie gets out of that bottle, who or what puts it back in?  There's been a sufficient interlude with nuclear energy and space.  There has not been with AI ( Artificial Intelligence).

On the subject of AI, I'm with Musk and Hawking.

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