AI Apocalypse Ahead – Debate is ON!

At a Vienna conference on Monday, regulators invoked the specter of J. Robert Oppenheimer in raising alarm over the potential for AI, and urging that they be given power over the emerging technology.

The event drew together military, civilian, and technology officials from over a hundred countries. Chief on the agenda was a discussion of the steps their countries are taking to control the way that AI and related technologies are militarized.

The American Pentagon is heavily invested in AI startups, to the tune of several million dollars. The European Union is currently devoting its resources in this sector toward building a database which can be used to evaluate battlefield targets. The Israeli army discussed the algorithm it uses to create its “kill lists.”

Alexander Schallenberg, the Austrian Foreign Minister, described the advent AI as the “Oppenheimer Moment” of the current generation. Now is the time, he said, to set up rules and norms on an international level to govern the use of AI by the planet’s militaries. He said that AI represents the “most significant advance” n the technology of war since the advent of gunpowder, over a thousand years ago.

The difference, he said, is that AI is far more dangerous than gunpowder. It could put decisions over who lives and who dies into the hands of machines, ignoring human values and considerations. This eventuality, Schallenberg argued, must be avoided. The world, he said, needs to make sure that humans remain in control of warfare.

Another conference attendee, who at one time was responsible for AI investment decisions on behalf of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, discussed his worries that the incentives of Silicon Valley are not currently aligned with the interests of the human race. AI, which was originally intended to speed automation and allow humans to unload mundane tasks, is now seen to have taken a turn in its development that could threaten, or destroy, humanity unless it is controlled.