AI: friend or fiend?

Ai – Oh MY

Artificial intelligence, out the vast ocean of human experience it is the next wave to come crashing upon our shore.  It is also one of our ongoing topics of discussion. That it will be a part of our lives is not debatable. Whether that is good or bad is.

Our culture has been preparing for it for sometime.  Books, movies, and television shows have presented various visions of a future with robots and intelligent computers systems.  Most play upon our fears. In 2001: A Space Odyssey we are introduced to the super-computer HAL ‘who’ evolves in a rather terrifying ways.  In The Terminator series we see a future in which computers evolve to perceive humans as the enemy. The concept is the same for The Matrix series where artificial intelligence enslaves inside a program while using their bodies as a power source.  In I, Robot a maniacal human uses robots to in an attempt to overtake the world.  In Blade Runner, and its sequel,  the existence of robots forces us to contemplate the meaning of existence.   

Of course there have also been positive visions.  Would Stars Wars have been the same without the the lovable duo of CP3O and R2D2?  The eighties gave us the goofy comedy Short Circuit which starred a robot that endearingly explored being human.  One of the favorite characters in the Star Trek lore is Data the android.  Disney’s Wall-E introduced us to a lovable robot that embodied all the qualities we want in a best friend.  So which is it: lovable friend or evil fiend?

That brings us to our first discussion point – Is artificial intelligence dangerous?

Elon Musk has been a popular voice proclaiming the dangers. (added note: we started writing this blog before Musk took a hit this week – it was not our intent to capitalize on that news).  In 2014 Musk said that artificial intelligence is “potentially more dangerous than nukes.’ Last year Russian leader Vladimir Putin said “the country with the best AI will be the ruler of the world.”  Elon Musk immediately tweeted, “Competition for AI at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.”

That comment did not go unnoticed by the robots – no really.  A month after that tweet, Sophia, a robot created by Hanson Robotics, was interviewed by Andrew Sorkin, a columnist of The New York Times.  In the interview he told Sophia, “We all want to prevent a bad future.” Sophia responded, “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies.  Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.” And if we are not?  That is a little scary, but should we be concerned?   Afterall, humans are the ones making artificial intelligence.  So isn’t just another tool we can use for our benefit?

Humankind has a long history with tools.  The same fire that can cook our food and provide heat can also reduce a building to ashes.  The same printing press that can be used to make the writings of Shakespeare available to the world can also be used to print books that promote hate and violence.  It is an age old argument that technology is only as a good or evil as the person using it.  But is artificial intelligence different?

This is an important discussion.  We invite you to join the discussion online through the comment sections available on both our website and social media.  Even better, come down to Tabanero Cigars in Ybor, get a Taba Brew coffee, light one of our hand-made premium cigars, and sit down in one of our leather chairs and engage in the conversation in person.

Read the last blog on this topic here.

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