Kurzweil Addresses Fears About AI

In the following video, futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil responds to some reasonable concerns about artificial general intelligence.  While I am an advocate of caution over fear, I’m not sure that Kurzweil’s comparisons to previous technologies sets solid grounds for dismissing such concerns.  We can reference past technologies and see a positive trend for such technologies being statistically more beneficial than destructive.  For example, nuclear technology can be used for creating weaponry, but it’s far more commonly used for creating energy.  However, all past technologies have one thing in common; they couldn’t out think us.  Kurzweil’s only solution to this is to “merge with the machines.”  Kurzweil also goes on to say that this merging is already taking place which, indeed, appears to be the case.  My concern is that intelligence may not be the only factor in creating harmony within humanity.  If empathy is solely a product of intelligence the I say bring it on!  However, I think more attention needs to be paid to the developmental roots of empathy as we continue down the path of creating artificial sentience.  The goal shouldn’t be in creating artificial general intelligence so much as it should be in creating artificial general empathy.  

Runtime: 5:10

This video can also be found here.  If you like the video, please make sure to stop by and give it a like.

Video Info:

Published on Mar 28, 2017

I interviewed Ray in his Google office in Mountain View, CA, February 15, 2017. Ray gave generously of his time, and his replies to my questions were very focused, full of excellent content.

To view the full interview (about 30 minutes), go to this link: https://youtu.be/lpzXWGrngTw

At the end of 2013, I made a documentary (https://youtu.be/5igUX43gkiU) about Ray, which includes clips from another interview. My goal was to provide a short video introduction to the life & thoughts of Ray, for those who know nothing about him and who want to know more. I hope you will check it out.

2 thoughts on “Kurzweil Addresses Fears About AI

  1. Tobiah Townsend February 14, 2018 / 10:26 pm

    I think the question of intelligence is really one about motivation… Computers can become billions of times greater at processing data then the human mind, but still not generate a human like ego. Why should the computer value anything, including itself? Empathy is only necessary to counteract survival instincts among pack predators. Oh sure we could program empathy, perhaps as a countermeasure?

    Liked by 1 person

    • dawnofgiants February 15, 2018 / 6:48 am

      I’ve been considering this question lately; what would it mean for a machine to be artificially empathetic? Would it be nothing more than a set of programmed restraints simply reassembling empathy (akin to the Chinese room argument) or could it be another byproduct of complexity as is sometimes theorized about sentience? There is still so much we don’t know about consciousness, but if we are to create artificial offspring endowed with intelligence, I would hope they are also conscious because I believe that to be a prerequisite of empathy. Kurzweil suggests that we will merge with the machines so perhaps that implies what we will be the empathetic components. I think it best that empathy and intelligence grow in tandem. It doesn’t seem wise to let that ratio grow too out of balance.


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