The Future of Life Institute (FLI), which features Elon Musk and famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking on the board of advisers, announced Wednesday that it would grant nearly $7 million to 37 teams for research into the dangers artificial intelligence may pose to the future of humanity.
The sum was partly donated by Elon Musk, who had invested in the group more than $10 million earlier this year. Artificial intelligence is a term that was first used in 1955 to describe the ability of a computer or machine to be as intelligent or even more intelligent than a human is.
For more than 50 years, academics and companies struggled to push AI beyond the limits of human intelligence. For instance, IBM designed Watson a super-computer that was able to win a Jeopardy game.
But several industry watchdogs and scientists warn against what AI may do if it outsmarts humans. Stephen Hawking is one of them. The famous scientist said that we cannot imagine what an AI that is smarter than financial markets, more intelligent than human scientists, and more manipulating than human politicians could do. Or what weapons of mass-destruction it may invent.
“Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all,”
Prof. Hawking recently said.
Bill Gates is also concerned about the future of AI and humanity. He said that he couldn’t grasp why people are not concerned about a take-over from super-intelligent computers. Elon Musk said last year that AI could become more destructive than nuclear weapons and urged world leaders to set a regulations and oversight panels so that they stop the world from doing “something very foolish.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak agreed with Musk and Hawking on this particular issue. Wozniak said earlier this year that smart machines can not only take care of use and run every aspect of our lives but they can also out-smart us and eventually get rid of us because we are obsolete.
Future of Life Institute’s purpose is to find ways of mitigating the risks super-smart machines may involve. It almost called on tech companies to stop AI research, but it would rather sponsor researchers to find proper arguments first. The 37 research teams funded by the group will conduct studies, surveys and analyses on the impact of super-intelligent machines on various fields including computer science, society, economy, law and so on.
For instance, a research team from Duke University will spend $200,000 on studying how ethical AI is, while a Rice University team will use nearly $70,000 on finding more about AI impact on the job market.
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