“SHE sounds like the girl next doo—young, friendly, eager. The voice brightly greets him in the morning and, with a sexy huskiness, bids him good night in the evening. The voice organizes his files, gets him out of the house and, unlike some multitasking females, doesn’t complain about juggling her many roles as his assistant, comfort, turn-on, helpmate and savior . . . ”
That was an excerpt from a film review of the 2013 film “Her”—which tells of an “unlikely yet plausible love story” about a man and an operating system (OS).
A safe and friendly depiction of intelligent machines is Utopian. In these scenarios, man is freed from performing mundane and mind-numbing work; he is free to pursue intellectual, spiritual, and artistic callings.
Until recently, the functions of machines are limited by the design, programming, and knowledge that man has embedded in them. The process is defined, guided, and controlled. The mechanism to override or seize control of the machine is present. As tools, machines are, at most, semi-autonomous.
However, fully autonomous machines are rapidly being developed. They are deployed and will act independent of direct human instruction. Capable of self-learning, they make consequential decisions in scenarios that are anticipated nor directly addressed by the r creators.
According to experts in artificial intelligence (AI), a computer with human-level intelligence will be developed in the next 50 years. Machines with super intelligence that evolve thereafter could be extremely powerful and difficult to control.
One of the concerns expressed in the study of artificial intelligence is that machines might adopt dangerous methods to pursue their goals. For one, these machines may not share our values and understanding. The methods can be dangerous for man because machines lack our cultural, emotional, and social intuition.
In 1995, Frenchman Yann LeCun introduced the idea that mimicking certain features of the human brain was the best way to make machines intelligent . This is the foundation of face and speech recognition programs in machines. As head of the artificial intelligence group of Facebook, LeCun aims to deliver software with language skills and common sense needed for basic conversation. Ultimately, the task is to teach machines to understand humans.
In 2005, the Future of Humanity Institute was founded at Oxford University. One of its main areas of research is the risk of human existence. According to its founder Nick Bostrom, the development and availability of powerful technology have wide-ranging impacts on the world and mankind. But the level of human wisdom is not developing at the same pace. He said, “ . . . it’s a lot like a child who’s getting [his]hands on a loaded pistol . . . ”
In the 2015 film “Ex Machina,” a programmer won a company lottery to spend the week with his employer. During his stay in the research facility, he is tasked to administer the Turing test to Ava, an android with artificial intelligence. The purpose was to determine if artificial intelligence can develop a consciousness of its own, not subject to human control. The film portrays the android exhibiting more human qualities than its creator.
Albert Einstein said that “it has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” The real problem, according to B.F. Skinner, is not whether machines think but whether men do.
Real Carpio So lectures on strategic and human resource management at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He is also an entrepreneur and a management consultant. He welcomes comments via firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.