Up until today, I haven’t really been bothered at all about the hype generated concerning the dangers of AI. The “singularity” and Terminator-like scenarios are as far as I’m concerned just complete garbage and not worth thinking too much about. However, there is another side to AI that is far from innocuous.
When I was at University I received a phone call from a colleague who was seriously asking me whether Mars was going to appear the size of the full Moon in the next few days. He had of course read about this nonsense on the Internet, and typical of most people reading stuff on the Internet, he thought there must be some truth to this. Reading stuff on the computer screen seems to lower the brain’s disciminatory functions for some reason – and if that’s just from reading stuff, then what happens when you actually have a CONVERSATION with your computer (or at least the AI program that is interacting with you)? The answer to Mars being the size of the full Moon by the way is that even Stone Age Man knew better than that! Get a grip.
We are currently at a stage where an AI program can hold a reasonably good (in truth, frighteningly good) conversation with you. Now thanks to the way you let all your interests, likes, dislikes, prejudices, hobbies – whatever – freely disseminate on the Internet through all your Social Media connections – it is not too difficult to program the AI to specifically interact with YOU in a very meaningful way! Think very carefully about that. In the course of what appears to be a plain ordinary conversation, the AI could manipulate you, very easily, without your knowledge. Not possible? Well I wouldn’t have thought that it was possible that anyone would believe Mars was going to appear the size of a full Moon – and this use of AI is far more intrusive into your Mind than just reading about some nonsense.
Now let’s go one stage further into the real nightmare scenario. It’s all great fun to type in your conversations and have the AI program type back its comments. But we’re not going to be happy staying at that primitive level of communication, are we? Soon we are going to SPEAK directly to the AI program and it will SPEAK back to us through our speakers having gone round the invisible (to us) loop of speech recognition programs and text to speech translation programs. The invisble software tech behind the “meaningful” conversation you are having with the AI is immaterial. What is NOT immaterial is what can now happen during the conversation.
I was in two minds whether to write this bit as I didn’t want to give the wrong people ideas which could wreak havoc on the planet, but I’m sure those developing these systems are already fully aware. This being the case I think it is my duty to make YOU also fully aware of where this can lead.
All the AI software guys need to do is team up with a Paul McKenna or Derren Brown-like character, and THEN see the damage that can be done! Without your knowing, whilst having a totally (to you) innocuous conversation with this charming AI – you are “put under” by hypnotic suggestions from the AI to do/carry out – God knows what.
At a Government level you could all be made to conform to their requirements. For a terrorist organisation you could be programmed to go out and carry out attrocities. For a commercial organisation you could be made to purchase stuff you don’t really need/want. And of course there are MANY more possibilities too (again I don’t want to give away ideas that could easily be the end of us).
Bottom line. Think VERY CAREFULLY before you engage in the seemingly innocuous business of interacting with an AI. You don’t know the motivations behind the programmer!!