Who’s afraid of Big Bad A I ? The vast majority of mankind has never heard of it. We who have, people who read more than Trump’s tweets and the tabloid press, and whose leisure time is not devoted exclusively to electronic games, Fox News and Netflix offerings that do not include scientific, cultural and historical documentaries, we at least have heard of it – and maybe enough to worry about it.
The Chinese are not worried at all. According to French expert Laurent Alexandre, they have none of our scruples or ethical norms to temper their enthusiasm for A I. They have already, early this year, succeeded the first cloning of a monkey and have practised numerous genetic modifications on human embryos. Many Chinese look forward to replacing their lawyers and doctors by Artificial Intelligence !
Transhumanism, amortality and the dominance of super-intelligent computers of which HAL (in the movie “2001 : A Space Odyssey”) is a mere primitive prototype, are not yet realities. But, we are told, they soon will be, in just a few short decades. Will tomorrow’s enhanced HALs be capable of doing what specialists assure us they will ? Or is all this science-fiction, like the movie ?
People my age (81) have little to worry about : we will all be dead before this Brave New World becomes a reality. But others half my age and younger would do well to keep up with the literature, so as to be aware of, and equipped to face, the challenges, if not the threats, on their horizon.
I myself wonder whether some super-computer more powerful than HAL (the letters of his (?) name precede those of IBM), with intelligence and capacities far superior to his already impressive, frightening talents, will in fact become a god. There will be no doubt about his quasi-omnipotence and omniscience. Though the movie leaves us terrified by the power of his ancestor, many might find Him quite . . . adorable.