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Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Social Media Are we Creating a New God


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In recent months, a number of technology luminaries have voiced concerns about the potential threat of Artificial Intelligence, echoing the final chapter of my book “Gadgets to God”. Bill Gates is quoted as saying (1) :-
"I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," Gates said in response to a question about the existential threat posed by AI. "First, the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern."
Microsoft's co-founder joins a list of science and industry notables, including famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Internet innovator Elon Musk, in calling out the potential threat from machines that can think for themselves. Elon Musk, billionaire founder of Space X, in October 2014 called AI development "summoning the demon," and has invested in the space to keep his eye on it. Stephen Hawking, writing for The Independent in May 2014, also expressed his concerns. "Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all," Hawking wrote.

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Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Social Media Are we Creating a New God

  1. 1. (1) (2) intelligence-the-future-is-scary-and-very-bad-for-people/ In recentmonths,anumberof technologyluminarieshave voicedconcernsaboutthe potential threatof Artificial Intelligence,echoingthe final chapterof mybook“Gadgetsto God”. Bill Gatesisquotedas saying(1) :- "I am inthe campthat is concerned aboutsuper intelligence," Gatessaidinresponse to a question aboutthe existential threat posedby AI. "First,the machineswill doa lot of jobsfor us and notbe super intelligent.That shouldbe positiveifwe manageit well.A few decades after that,though,the intelligenceisstrong enoughto be a concern." Microsoft'sco-founderjoinsalistof science andindustrynotables,includingfamedphysicistStephen HawkingandInternetinnovatorElonMusk,incallingoutthe potential threatfrommachinesthatcan thinkforthemselves. ElonMusk,billionaire founderof Space X, inOctober2014 calledAIdevelopment "summoningthedemon," andhas investedinthe space tokeephiseye onit. Stephen Hawking, writing for The IndependentinMay2014, alsoexpressedhisconcerns. "Whereastheshort-termimpact ofAI dependson who controlsit, the long-termimpact dependson whether it can be controlledat all," Hawkingwrote. More recently (2), inan interview withthe AustralianFinancial Review, Steve Wozniak,co-Founderof Apple, joinedBill Gates,StephenHawkingandElonMusk bymakinghisowncasuallyapocalyptic warningaboutmachinessupersedingthe humanrace. "Like peopleincludingStephenHawking andElon Muskhave predicted, I agree that the future isscary and very bad forpeople," Wozniaksaid. "Ifwe buildthese devicesto take care of everything for us,
  2. 2. (1) (2) intelligence-the-future-is-scary-and-very-bad-for-people/ eventuallythey'll thinkfaster than us andthey'll get ridof the slowhumansto run companiesmore efficiently." [Bill Gates on dangersof artificial intelligence: ‘I don’tunderstand why somepeoplearenotconcerned’] Dolingoutparalyzingchunksof fearlike gumdropstosweet-toothedchildrenonHalloween,Woz continued:"Willwebe the gods?Will we be the familypets? Or will we be ants thatget stepped on?I don'tknow aboutthat … But when I got that thinkingin my headabout ifI'm goingto be treated in the future as a pet to these smart machines… well I'm goingto treat my own pet dog really nice." In the preface toGadgets to God I wrote :- “The messagebehind thisautobiographical accountofmyown andmankind’srelationshipwith machinesand technologyinthe second halfof the twentieth century and firstdecade of the twenty first isquite simple.My generationof babyboomers has livedthroughan unprecedented periodin our history.My life beganin an era when humanbeingsused their intelligenceandsenses to get the best out of machinesandtechnologyandwill end inan age in whichmachinesand technologywill be using all their intelligenceand sensesto get the best out of humanbeings. Where once we were masters we maynow become slaves.The consequencesof thisshift inpower are profound,unpredictableandpotentiallyeitherdisastrousor liberatingforthe future ofmankind.The choiceswe are makingtoday abouthow, where and when we use the technologiesdescribedinthis book couldwell destroy civilisationandthe beautiful planetwe live on.The worldI havespent my life in isa metaphorical “GardenofEden” yet I fear that the new Godwe are all choosingtocreate in our own imageand empower withall the knowledgeof goodand evil maywell cast us out intoan age of darkness andconflict.”
  3. 3. (1) (2) intelligence-the-future-is-scary-and-very-bad-for-people/ Gadgets to God Book – Whilstthese wordsmightseemdramatic,Iwouldargue that,withinmylifetime,we have transitioned froma societyinwhichtechnologywasusedas“Gadgets”whichrequiredthe skill,intelligence and experience of humanbeingstogetthe bestfromthemto a new age in whichthe technologiesof Artificial Intelligence(AI),CloudComputingandSocial Mediaare alreadybeingusedtoshape the behavioursandactionsof humanbeingina waywhichis virtuallyindistinguishablefrommostpeople’s perceptionof God. God or some formof Deityhasprovidedafundamental platformforthe shapingof societyanda bedrockforthe livesof billionsof people.Inpreviouscenturies,humanbeingscommunedwiththeir God as an omnipotent,benevolent,invisible,omnipresentforce intheirlives.Humanbeingsinvested substantial time,attentionandincome inprayerandservices,seekingguidance,directionandsupport fromtheirGod but today,althoughbillionsof people worshipindifferentwayseveryday,the role that God occupiedinmanypeople’slivesisnow beingtakenoverbythe technologiesof AI,CloudComputing and Social Media.The table belowofferssome comparisonsbetweencommonperceptionsof Godand whatthese technologiesoffer:- Perceptions of God What Technology Provides Today All seeing Digital capture of all our activities All knowing Infinite knowledgeDatabase All powerful Controlsalmostall aspectsof our lives All listening Accessible anywhere,anytime,anyhow InvisibleinHeaven Invisiblein“The Cloud” All wise Wisdomof the Crowd Lovesus as individuals PersonalisedServices Knowsourthoughtsand desires Predictive computing Immortal Secure,everlastingstorage My judgement,likethose of the technologyluminaries,isthatwe shouldbe veryconcernedthatwe have not “summonedthe demon”asElonMusk suggestedbutthe analogyinmypreviousarticle “Societal FissionorFusion?”isthe bestwayIcan describe where we standatthe momentexceptthat we may have gone pasta tippingpointinmankind’shistoryfromwhichthere isnowayback andunlike nuclearfusionwhere we have devisedcoolingmechanismstoharnessatomicenergyforthe benefitof mankind,Isee no equivalentmechanismsforthe internet. My book’sfinal chapter“Endof the BeginningorBeginningof the End”sumsup the presentsituation throughthe wordsof CharlesDickensin“Tale of Two Cities“ “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,itwasthe epochof belief,it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had ”
  4. 4. (1) (2) intelligence-the-future-is-scary-and-very-bad-for-people/ everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all goingdirect the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” CharlesDickens – Tale of Two Cities DavidWortley GAETSS March 2015