The term ‘singularity’ is one you might be familiar with, it is used to describe the point at which a black hole’s mass is centered. However there is another type of singularity, the technological singularity. This is the point in time when an artificial general intelligence is capable of repetitive self improvement, or when it can build machines that are more smarter and powerful. This leads to an intelligence explosion as a machine will be built that outsmarts humans with intelligence so great that we might not even be able to comprehend it.
It is predicted by Ray Kurzweil, recipient of the 1999 U.S National Medal of Technology and Innovation, that this singularity will occur in the year 2045, which is frighteningly close.
As stated in the previous article, the different types of A.I are all designed for specific purposes. A.I can be used for many different things from making coffee to coordinating nuclear strikes. There is great ethical concern for the use of robots in the military and law enforcement. What raises the most concern is that we have emotions, happiness, sadness and countless others, how do we pass those emotions onto an A.I system? We don’t know how, and without emotions it is hard to predict what an A.I will do when faced with a situation. Say for example law enforcement A.I are introduced into a city, and a starving young child has to steal food to survive. The A.I would treat the child just the same as it would say a wealthy man stealing the same thing, this is where the issue lies. A human police officer is going to possess empathy, and they would treat the child differently than the man, that’s just the human thing to do. Do you know what we call someone who does not have empathy? Psychopaths. Do you want a bunch of psychopathic robots in the police force or the army? I didn’t think so.
Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robotics at the Imperial College in London has said that the way we must nullify the threat of a wayward A.I we need to make it human-like, as in give it the ability to feel emotion. He states that there are two ways A.I can head, a potentially dangerous AGI programmed on a optimisation process with no morals (paperclip maximiser situation) or an A.G.I based on us and our psychological and neurological blueprint.
Military organisations across the world are developing and have already developed some A.I systems that are used in warfare. One of the first recorded cases of drones being used was in 1849, where Austrians launched 200 pilotless balloons filled with bombs against Venice. Fast forward 167 years later and the U.S’s Global Hawk is able to direct itself by downloading data from satellites and maintain an altitude of 60,000ft.
This is only one of the countless extremely advanced A.I systems developed by groups across the world, and only one we know of. How many other projects have been undertaken in secret? *cough* Area 51 *cough*
Kurzweil, R, 2005. The Singularity is Near. Viking