Just before Christmas last year, the planet seemed to be in reasonably good shape. Sure, there was the climate crisis, there were sporadic wars as there always are and, of course, famine and disease continue to ravage poorer countries.
Still, we had survived and the prophets of doom (also known as scientists) who predicted tens of millions of deaths were out by a huge factor.
Then it crept up on us: Artificial Intelligence. As we returned after the Christmas break, this new crisis was about to allow machines to wipe out the human race. One of the early investors in technology, Elon Musk, was counselling caution.
Governments and the EU were considering regulations. ChatGPT so frightened the Italians that they banned it for a month and then gave up.
So, is this a crisis? First, AI has been around for almost 70 years – the term was first coined in 1956.
In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov, demonstrating the potential of AI in complex strategic games.
Forget chess, in 2011, IBM’s Watson system competed and won against human contestants on the game show Jeopardy!
The breakthrough moment for modern AI came in 2012 when deep learning techniques, based on neural networks with many layers, achieved remarkable results in image and speech recognition.
That was 10 years ago though, so what’s all the fuss about now? Perhaps, it is because Microsoft is a heavy investor in AI and it’s another way for Bill Gates to control the world, having failed with Covid.
So, is this a crisis? I don’t know, but the genie is now out of the bottle, and it will not be put back in. Regulation won’t work. It failed printing 600 years ago, along with radio and TV in the last century and recently the Internet.
We have survived those advances in technology but this might be the Big One.
I’m grateful to ChatGPT in helping me research this post.
Have a good week.