• Question: Do you think we'll create intelligent A.I. in the near (~100 years) future? If yes, do you think it will benefit us in the long run, or will it be our downfall like we always see in films?

    Asked by Logan to Laura, Kathryn, Ian, Chris, Bogdana, Alex on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Ian Cookson

      Ian Cookson answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I think it’s a dangerous path personally. I’m sure computer scientists will claim that humans will always be in control, but where do you draw the line? I’d hate to think that we pursue AI to the point where we have a sci-fi version of autonomous beings and then regret it!

    • Photo: Chris Fullwood

      Chris Fullwood answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I think you could argue that humans have already created intelligent A.I. For example, think about self-driving cars, face recognition software and the idea that machines have been said to have passed the Turing test (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27762088), which is argued to be the test of a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligent behaviour. I think the important question is not whether we can create intelligent machines, but whether those machines will become self-aware. That really then would be within the realms of science fiction!

    • Photo: Kathryn Atherton

      Kathryn Atherton answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Yes. The major problem here is that people tend to only get round to thinking about all the implications of a new technology and what regulation is actually required after the new tech has been developed and released, not before. So I think it’s important that the powers that be get ahead of the game on this one or we might find ourselves in very dangerous territory.

    • Photo: Laura Fisk

      Laura Fisk answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Do you know what? This is well beyond my field of expertise! I think back to what technologies we had a hundred years ago – and am reminded we’d just finished fighting the First World War and given married women the right to vote in elections. Things can change a lot in 100 years, and I would guess artificial intelligence is going to be one area of great change and development. I’m not sure we as a society have completely got to grips with the implications of it all – and like Kathryn says, this is an important thing we should get better at working out before technologies take over rather than afterwards when it’s too late!

    • Photo: Bogdana Huma

      Bogdana Huma answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      I think it’s difficult to say anything definite about that far ahead into the future. I believe there will be AIs that will perform very complicated tasks (especially requiring the processing of large amounts of information) well beyond a human’s capability, if that’s what’s meant by ‘intelligence’.
      However, if by ‘intelligence’ we mean something like ‘self-awareness’ or ‘self-determination’ (like the ‘Control’ in the latest season from Star Trek Discovery) then I’m less inclined to believe that’s possible.
      I’m a strong supporter of technological evolution and innovation. Technology provides tools that can be used for good as well as destruction. So whether AIs are going to benefit or ruing human kind depends entirely on us.

    • Photo: Alex Lloyd

      Alex Lloyd answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      I actually do! Maybe it is from watching too many episodes of Black Mirror but I think AI is close to being a part of our daily lives. Although, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, as long as we are careful about how and when we use it. For example, there have been AI programmes that have been better than expert surgeons at detecting cancer, so if they are used for positive things like this then I think AI has the potential to benefit humanity a lot!

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