Artificial intelligence is being developed by scientists across the world. However, not all scientists are looking forward to the idea of robots among humans.
Dr Amnon Eden said more needs to be done to look at the risks of continuing towards an AI world.He warned that we were getting close to the point of no return in terms of AI, without a proper understanding of the consequences.
Dr Eden is principal of the Sapience Project, a think-tank which has been formed to look at the potential disruptive impact of artificial intelligence AI.
Science fiction has regularly explored whether robots could destroy mankind, most famously the Terminator films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dr Eden’s stance comes after Oxford Professor Nick Bostrom said that super intelligence AI may “advance to a point where its goals are not compatible with that of humans”.
He claimed that unlike climate change and genetic engineering, where he said Governments across the globe are putting in mechanisms to minimise the risks of what are, “nothing is being done to control the advance of AI”.
Mr Bostrom said: “There is a policy vacuum which must be filled if this inevitable advance is to be used wisely.”
Discussing the potential risks, he said: “A computer is basically a box and what goes into it is all that it can use, so unless we tell it that people in cold countries may die if they have no heating, and that’s bad, how will it know? How can we define what ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ actually is?
“The result of the singularity may not be that AI is being malicious but it may well be that it is not able to ‘think outside its box’ and has no conception of human morals.
“The other AI concern is one that Hollywood has been using for years as a theme and that is the rise of the ‘Terminator’ type being and the struggle to survive against an army of hostile shape-shifting robots being run by a self-aware AI called Skynet.”
He argued the crux of whether AI will be of benefit or something more sinister is known as the technological singularity.
He said: “This is based on machine intelligence entering into a runaway reaction of self-improvement cycles, each one being faster than the last and at some point we will not be able to stop it doing so.
“At that stage, when computers can think for themselves, no-one can yet predict whether this will result in chaos or a vastly better world.
“A basic example of this would be that some supercomputer is asked to make people healthier.
“If allowed to make its own decisions, it may decide that we need to be a bit hardier and so it goes into where computing is basing itself now – ‘The Cloud’ – finds all of the central heating controls across the world and turns them all off.
“Now, would it do this to protect us or could it get to the stage where the computer is trying to crush the human race?”
He believes there is a polarising debate surrounding a radically different scenario where human cognitive capability is amplified by bio-intelligence.
This could mean that a chip is inserted and wired to the brain to provide a massive amount of information that would not be available to any single person.
He said: “While in many ways this could be beneficial unless controlled what if that chip could re-programme itself?
“Would the age of the superhuman usher in an era of where the notion of being human has passed?