Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk see it as a mortal threat to mankind. To Vladimir Putin it's the key to world domination. 'World Domination' - are we back to that again, the old 'we will bury you' days?
Here's how Count Vlad described artificial intelligence to students at 16,000 Russian schools:
“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”
This isn't just Vlad mouthing off. He's talking about an arms race that's now underway pitting Russia, the United States and China against each other. At the moment the US has the lead but the others are catching up fast, each determined to be the first to claim the Holy Grail of next generation warfare.
“The US, Russia, and China are all in agreement that artificial intelligence will be the key technology underpinning national power in the future,” says Gregory C. Allen, a fellow at nonpartisan think tank the Center for a New American Security. He coauthored a recent report commissioned by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that concluded artificial intelligence could shake up armed conflict as significantly as nuclear weapons did.
In July, China’s State Council released a detailed strategy designed to make the country “the front-runner and global innovation center in AI” by 2030. It includes pledges to invest in R&D that will “through AI elevate national defense strength and assure and protect national security.”
Elon Musk, meanwhile, sees in the 3-way race for AI domination the seeds of WWIII.
“Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3.”
The development of killer computers would give any nation a clear edge over its competitors.
Artificial intelligence could be used to command fleets of drones or battalions of killer robots, while responding to threats at speeds much faster than any human could manage.
Musk said that it may actually be the AI itself that launches the next World War.
He added: “[WW3] May be initiated not by the country leaders, but one of the AI’s, if it decides that a pre-emptive strike is most probable path to victory.”
Nick Bostrom, head of the University of Oxford’s Future Of Humanity Institute, recently claimed that we may have just 50 years to save ourselves from artificial intelligence.
Competition to build a machine that’s as clever as humans will be fierce in the coming decades, with considerable rewards on offer for the nation which manages to pull off the historical feat of achieving “machine intelligence”.
But the scrabble to create this silicon-powered mind could lead to mistakes with disastrous consequences.
“There is a control problem,” Bostrom said.
“This could exacerbate the risks from out of control AI.”
Once computers are as intelligent as humans it is likely there will be an “intelligence explosion” which sees the machines reach super-intelligence in a scarily short space of time — this moment is often referred to as singularity.
This process could begin in the next 50 years and once it’s kicked off there may not be any way to stop it.