Google’s AI chief John Giannandrea showed up at the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, and when reporters asked him what he thought of a possible “AI apocalypse,” he said that such a thing will not happen, writing it off as “hype.” While the field of AI is undeniably advancing at a rapid pace, in Giannandrea’s view, current AI tech would not measure up to the average four-year-old in sheer general-purpose aptitude. Instead, he stressed the importance of advancements in machine learning and neural networking technologies.
Giannandrea’s viewpoint shows adherence to a side of the debate that reasons that AI can be controlled and contained by the humans that create it. As the technology marches onward, multiple types of AI are being created. Artificial general intelligence is one of the more controversial types of AI currently out there due to its potential to synthesize knowledge, figure out new concepts according to existing data, and even develop self-awareness. Many AI beings created these days have safeguards in place at fundamental levels that either prevent immoral or objectionable behavior, or set them up to strictly pursue goals set by, or at least perceivably aligned with the goals of their users. Even so, it is widely argued that AI has the potential to misjudge what behaviors would benefit the mankind, or may even develop into a super-intelligence and turn against humans over time. While these fears are highly theoretical in nature, those on that side of the debate are arguing that external control of AI now, most popularly proposed through government regulation, could help to prevent that sort of thing from happening in the future.
The argument has always been at the back of the AI scene but recently picked up steam when Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a sternly-worded warning about the dangers of allowing AI to develop freely. His call to awareness sparked responses from every corner of the tech world and even led to an exchange over the matter between Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. For the time being, the debate goes on with no clear resolution in sight.