To Commit or to Deny : AI and its Potential
"The same underlying AI [artificial intelligence] that can be engines of creation can also be engines of destruction."
"We're talking about weapons that can sense, operate, target and kill without human intervention or oversight. To deploy these killer robots is to relinquish control by delegating the kill decision to the machine itself."
"It's very popular, very current and quite frankly very cool to ... invest in all of these technologies."
"But I think we also have to develop clear road maps, have a clear sense of where we want to go and always have an ethical lens, which by its nature, will be cautious and will be skeptical and won't be simply cheerleading the technology."
Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair, ethics, law and technology, University of Ottawa
"It's not that we're opposed to the technology It's the ethical issues that don't really get discussed."
"The technology is moving so quickly that the quicker we get at this, the better off we're all going to be."
Paul Hannon, head, Mines Action Canada
"Now, if you're saying one of those applications might be in weapons systems, yeah, it's possible."
"With AI, I'm not saying there aren't societal implications -- I'm sure there are and will be."
"But I certainly can't predict what they will be and that's why I think we need ongoing discussions, both within the public and by scholars, who are really focused on this issue and looking at it in its full dimensions."
Alan Bernstein, head, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
"I think overall we have to recognize that technology should be a force for good, that technology should help make society better."
"It's not about human versus machine and, [regarding] any issues around ethical challenges associated with technology developments going forward, we will work very closely with industry and civil society in order to deal with those issues."
Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains
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The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is courting artificial intelligence and the inventiveness of technology. It is playing catch-up with Britain which announced a year or so earlier that it was on the same trajectory. Needless to say, both are riding the tailwind of the U.S. military, always the leader in any ingenious methods of emerging, cutting-edge military technology. Canada is hoping that 'innovation' will transform itself from the current buzzword to the reality of Canada surging ahead in the field of artificial intelligence.
Politicians, it seems, know little about AI, but view it as effective, efficient, the wave of the future, both romantic and sexy. Yet the very guardians of AI, whose technological spirit, enterprise and know-how leads the new technology, hold it in the kind of respect born of trepidation and imaginative foresight lost on politicians. No less a crew than Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and others give dire warning of the potential of the unexpected resulting from an impetuous push on AI.
They envision a creepy reality where artificial intelligence will become so capable, advanced and self-skilled that it will itself advance its own interests, separating itself from instructions and direction from human minds. It will become that proverbial monster that cannot be controlled, that becomes super-destructive, an unstoppable Frankenstein whose power and malevolence will wreak havoc of a nature that would threaten the existence of humankind and the promotion of the supremacy of artificial intelligence.
And while governments may deny that technology, however advanced it may become, could conceivably threaten the stability and balance of world affairs through a lethal runaway self-availing artificial intelligence, even building on what already exists, the capability of autonomous machines whose function is to "select and engage targets without human intervention", the die is already cast. The unassailable argument starts with the premise that soldiers' lives will be spared because there are quadcopters able to search out enemy combatants and kill them.
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Canada's March federal budget set aside an multi-hundreds-millions-investment for a pan-Canadian AI strategy with the goal of guiding the country to leverage its perceived strengths in AI and thus become a world leader in the emerging field rapidly gaining impetus, not to mention the economic potential seen in achieving that status. There are allied plans for the development of 24 university research chairs to include "deep AI chairs", cross-country. Has no one informed these great minds that China for one is leaps and bounds ahead in this field?
One wonders whether they took the time and trouble to read the letter co-signed by concerned authorities in the field, addressed to the British government a year and a half earlier. Even the United Nations is involved in the issue, brought to that concern by effective lobbying of concerned groups, debating a possibility of a global ban on autonomous weapons. So that just as chemical and biological weapons are banned, autonomous weapons and AI-guided weaponry too would be banned.
"Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc."
"Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilising nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity."
|Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates|