AI, people, and society

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 7
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao2466

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  • RE: Impact of technological power

    Artificial Intelligence expert Eric Horvitz’s recent editorial in SCIENCE (7/7/17, p.7) notes that “it will be critical to address the influence of AI on people and society”, short and long term.
    To make that influence maximally beneficial and minimally harmful ten years (say) or more from now is a challenge, since society’s future state depends on vastly numerous factors whose currently estimated probability decreases strongly with time -- and indeed that state can never be predicted exactly without a dictatorship.
    Horvitz reports that, as AI advances, the AI community is organizing to meet that challenge, as the genetic engineering community did at Asilomar in 1975. We are faced both with weakly predictable society and with the growing – often exponentially growing -- powers of technology such as AI, genetic engineering, nanotech, and robotics. To improve predictability, we must go outside the usual boxes as we organize.
    Better prediction can come if we more strongly integrate C. P. Snow’s “two cultures” of science and humanities, more frequently bringing together members of those two worlds. There's early need to improve our social indicators to measure “happiness” more fairly, then to recommend policies and actions in every technical field most likely to promote the good life for all, reminiscent of the spirit of the Prometheus Project proposed by Gerald Feinberg in 1969.
    I judge it's relevant to conclude by rememb...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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