It seems like every day goes without another thought leader warning of the obvious dangers artificial intelligence poses to civilization as we know it.
While they are not necessarily wrong, I think there are risks artificial intelligence It’s something humans can manage.
But wracking our brains with digital dystopias is distracting us from a very real existential threat that we are simply not addressing well — the increasingly rapid breakdown of the environment that underpins our existence.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t be very worried about artificial intelligence.
Last month, hundreds of experts, including some of the biggest names in AI research, endorsed a statement from San Francisco’s Center for AI Safety: “Mitigating the risk of AI extinction should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks. Such as epidemics and nuclear war.”
An AI or group of AIs working together could do a lot of harm if bad actors give necessary instructions to large AI models, or if good actors lose control of their creations.
Not because they have “human-like” intelligence, but the same as before Google AI “Godfather” Geoffery Hinton Warning, exactly because they don’t.
But while AI-induced “extinction” is theoretically possible, and it’s right to start thinking about it seriously, it’s a big deal to throw the word around when a more plausible extinction event is accelerating before us.
In the same week as the latest AI doomsday declaration, a very different group of scientists started talking about what was happening in the North Atlantic.
Sea surface temperatures there have risen to a level that would surprise even the most dispassionate climate scientist.
Dr Marilena Oltmanns, a marine physicist at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, said the reasons for the sudden spike in ocean temperatures were complex but still “worrisome”.
“Ultimately, heat is energy,” she says. “In a warmer climate, there is more energy available to drive the climate system.”
This energy hydrates the atmosphere—increasing the intensity of storms.
anyone who wants to go home Thunderstorms in southern England this week It doesn’t take an AI simulation to tell you what that feels like.
international cooperation is essential
AI requires regulation and international consensus.
Its potential is so vast and powerful that it will not be easy to convince countries leading its development, such as the United States and China, to come to the negotiating table and agree on some ground rules. But history shows that this is not impossible.
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed on a way to reduce the risk of an existential crisis at the time—nuclear annihilation.
While the threat is greater now than at any time since the Cold War, there is still some confidence in the rules to prevent it from happening.
In the late 1990s, most countries put a moratorium on cloning biotechnology to prevent anyone from attempting to create human life. Even in countries where there are no laws preventing this from happening, this is unacceptable.
Chinese authorities have reacted harshly to a doctor who claims to have manipulated human embryos.
Humans are good at creating new and terrifyingly powerful tools like nuclear bombs and biotechnology.
Artificial intelligence is one such tool. But we have demonstrated the ability to police them.
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Sacrifice the environment
Maybe that’s an overly optimistic view – but it certainly says more than you can say about our ability to govern in another dimension of our humanity – profit at the expense of the environment.
Despite more than 20 years of international negotiations to tackle climate change, carbon emissions continue to rise.
The environment on which all our economic output depends (for example, our forests and oceans) continues to deplete faster than it can renew itself.
This is where artificial intelligence can save us.
It won’t solve all of humanity’s problems, but giving chemists powerful AI could generate new catalysts that suck carbon out of the atmosphere.
Physicists are already using it to speed up the development of nuclear fusion, which can deliver unlimited amounts of energy without warming the planet.
Researchers at tech giant Nvidia are trying to harness massive computing power to create a “digital twin” of Earth, enabling artificial intelligence to guide us through some of the limited options we’ve been left with to avoid ecological catastrophe.
Human intelligence has evolved over millions of years, and on current trends, by mid-century the Earth will be warmer than at any point during that long evolution.
Let’s stop worrying about how AI will replace us and start figuring out how to use it to save ourselves.