Famed British physicist Stephen Hawking has voiced his concerns about artificial intelligence (AI), as have Bill Gates and Elon Musk.
All three support the development of AI, although the focus has been on the drama – like Hawking’s quote, “…I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
Recently, a handful of investors, including Musk and Peter Thiel, have pledged $1 billion to OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research organization. According to its website, “[w]e believe AI should be an extension of individual human wills and, in the spirit of liberty, as broadly and evenly distributed as possible.”
What’s the worry?
The memories of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica are still fresh in many minds. Will AI-enabled robots take over our jobs, lives, the planet?
Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, who is an OpenAI co-chair, told Vanity Fair that he puts AI into two groups: What’s possible now, and what could happen later. In the first are things like missile defense systems, which, he says, come with some concern. In the latter, well, time will tell.
Right now, through, AI can only operate within pretty narrow boundaries – boundaries that are, of course, limited by the technology available and created and maintained by humans.
Are standards necessary?
Yes, says Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt and Google’s Jared Cohen (neither of whom is affiliated with OpenAI). In a recent Time magazine piece, they lay out three rules for AI: 1. It should “benefit the many, not the few.” 2. AI research should be transparent and accessible. 3. The industry needs a set of “best practices” established.
What’s the aim?
OpenAI is basically laying a foundation for the time when AI becomes more accessible. The group’s research will be open source, allowing access to entities outside of the organization.
But, as some have pointed out, the call for open and shared information hints at a truth for AI, which is that it takes massive amounts of data, and it needs people who can harness it. This is in part a recruitment call aimed at a community of people that is, right now, pretty small.
Also, by keeping the research transparent, they can keep the information lines open between companies’ advancements, which is one way to encourage innovation. And competition.
One likely benefit from AI: there’s little chance robots will commit fraud or theft. For more insight on protecting your supply chain today, see Supply Chain Fraud: Where Has All the Money Gone?