Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Masters or Slaves of AI?

By Michael Cook

If neural lacing enables our brains to be networked, we could easily be hacked or become the tools of Google or government.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In the 19th century and for a good part of the 20th century, many people feared that humanity was destined to become lapdogs of bloated industrialists. The world would be divided between the haves and the have-nots, the capitalists and the proletariat.

The fear persists, but nowadays capitalists like Mark Zuckerberg wear hoodies and tennis shoes like the rest of us. Apart from North Korea, there is universal agreement that “to get rich is glorious”.

So the great divide of the 21st century and beyond will be based not on money, but on intelligence. And the superior intellects will not even be humans, but machines. Or at least that’s what Elon Musk says, one of the leading figures in Silicon Valley and one of America’s richest men.

Musk is a co-founder of PayPal, and he has since launched visionary projects like sending men to Mars with a one-way ticket and Tesla electric cars. One of his visions, though, is a nightmare in which computers take over from humanity and begin to think for themselves at ever-increasing speed and sophistication. One of Google’s gurus, Ray Kurzweil, calls this “The Singularity” and predicts that this is going to happen in 2045.

To forestall this existential risk, Musk has launched yet another project, OpenAI, to create “friendly” artificial intelligence. “The benign situation with ultra-intelligent AI is that we would...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.