Stephen Hawking, the famous scientist who once said intelligent machines could be mankind’s biggest threat, opened an artificial intelligence lab in Britain this week to help develop robot surgeons and Terminator-style military droids.
Britain’s Cambridge University will play host to the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) as it uses a $10 million grant to bring together experts from many disciplines to develop AI robots.
Scientists from around the world will use the AI lab to design and test intelligent robots that could potentially transform mankind, according to SpaceDaily.
“Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialization.”
Calling the creation of AI, the biggest event in the history of civilization, Hawking said the British lab hoped to help eradicate disease and poverty in our lifetime, according to Phys.org.
“Every aspect of our lives will be transformed.”
The AI lab is an Oxford Cambridge partnership with the Imperial College of London and U.C. Berkeley that aims to bring together experts from multiple disciplines. The AI lab will feature work on autonomous weapons and ethics as well as policymakers, CFI consultant and cognitive science professor Margaret Boden told SpaceDaily.
“AI is hugely exciting. Its practical applications can help us to tackle important social problems, as well as easing many tasks in everyday life.”
Hawking, one of the world’s most famous scientists who is also helping to explore the galaxy in the search for alien life, warned the AI lab that thinking machines could be disastrous for mankind if not managed properly, reports the Telegraph.
“The rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not know which.”
Last year, Hawking joined Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and 1,000 other scientists, researchers, and business leaders in signing an open letter urging the governments of the world to ban military style AI robots, reports the Telegraph.
“If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the end point of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow.”
Hawking is a great opponent of making scientific breakthroughs simply for the sake of advancement without examining the reasons, according to the Telegraph.
“It will bring great disruption to our economy, and in the future AI could develop a will of its own that is in conflict with ours.”
Hawking’s AI lab opened amid huge advancements in AI technology like self-driving cars and computers that can defeat humans in chess.
The advancement in AI technologies could lead to a revolution in society and the way our civilization operates. With intelligent machines able to perform many of the tasks humans do now, intelligent robots are set to displace millions of humans from their jobs.
With machines taking over human jobs across the spectrum, millions of people will need to find a way to support themselves and their families. One Silicon Valley solution to the problem is universal basic income that could be doled out to every citizen.
Without the need to earn a living, humans would have more time to pursue more esoteric pursuits.
It’s a concept explored by science fiction writers with plots that range everywhere from a Star Trek-like utopia to a bleak future where military service is the only way to leave people can leave desperate poverty behind.
What do you think about Stephen Hawking’s new AI lab?
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