Neil deGrasse Tyson and Pope Francis: Dangers of AI must not be underestimated10. October 2019
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Pope Francis: Dangers of AI must not be underestimated
New York / Rome
The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse warned Tyson and Pope Francis against overestimating the success of AI and overlooking the dangers inherent in this technology.
Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked during an episode of his StarTalk radio show what he thought was the greatest threat to humanity. Tyson appeared alongside Josh Clark, the host of the podcasts “Stuff You Should Know” and “The End of The World”. The same question was asked to them. Clark was the first to answer: “I would say that the AI is probably our biggest existential crisis”. He justified this by saying, “We’re just putting the parts on the table to make a machine super intelligent.”
One of his other concerns is that we don’t yet know how to fully define morality and kindness, let alone program it.
“We assume that if the AI becomes super intelligent, this kindness would be a characteristic of this intelligence. That’s not necessarily true.”
Tyson said he wanted to give a different answer to the question of the greatest threat first, but since he liked Clark’s answer, he decided to share it.
“What convinced me was that if you put the AI in a box, it would come out. My goodness, it always comes out. Before I thought, “This is America, the AI’s getting out of hand, you’re shooting it…”. but it doesn’t work because the AI may be in a box, but it’ll convince you to let it out.”
Dr. Tyson doesn’t say what his previous answer should be, but he has warned in the past of the dangers of giant asteroids hitting Earth and joined the call for action against climate change.
At a Vatican conference entitled “The common good in the digital age”, Pope Francis also issued a clear warning: “The remarkable developments in technology, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, are having an increasingly significant impact on all areas of human activity, and for this reason, more than ever, open and concrete discussions are needed on this issue. Francis made it clear that failure to respect moral and ethical implications could lead to a form of barbarism. He also feared that the AI “could be used to spread tendentious opinions and false data that could poison public debates and even manipulate the opinions of millions of people, to the point of endangering the very institutions that ensure peaceful civil coexistence”.