It seems like not a day goes by without another thought leader warning of the obvious danger that artificial intelligence poses to civilization as we know it.
Although they’re not necessarily wrong, I think the risk artificial intelligence is something humanity can manage.
But messing around with digital astigmatism is distracting us from a very real existential threat that we’re not doing well at all – the increasingly rapid destruction of the environment. feed us.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry too much about AI.
Last month, hundreds of experts, including some of the biggest names in AI research, endorsed a statement from the Center for AI Safety in San Francisco that: “Reducing AI extinction should be the global priorities in addition to other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
If the bad guys give out the necessary instructions for large AI models, or the bad guys lose control of their creations, an AI or a group of them working together could have devastating effects. great harm.
And not because they have “human-like” intelligence, like before “Godfather” Google AI Geoffery Hinton warning, precisely because they don’t.
But while AI-induced “extinction” is theoretically possible, and it’s right to start thinking seriously about it, it’s a big word when an extinction event occurs. much more rational is accelerating right before our very eyes.
In the same week that the latest AI apocalypse claims were made, a very different group of scientists began talking about what was going on in the North Atlantic.
Sea surface temperatures are rising to an extent and at a rate that will surprise even the coldest climate scientists.
Dr Marilena Oltmanns, a marine physicist at the National Oceanographic Center in Southampton, said the reasons for the sudden rise in ocean temperatures were complex but remained “alarming”.
“Ultimately, heat is energy,” she says. “In a warming climate, there will be more energy to run the climate system.”
That energy is what allows the atmosphere to gain moisture – increasing the intensity of storms.
Anyone trying to get home in Thunderstorms in the south of England this week no need for AI simulation to tell you what that feels like.
International cooperation needed
AI needs regulation, it needs international consensus.
Its potential is so great and powerful, it will not be easy to convince countries leading its development like the US and China to sit down at the table to agree on some basic rules. But history shows that it is not impossible.
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed on a way to reduce the risk of the existential crisis of the time – nuclear annihilation.
While that threat is now greater than at any time since the Cold War, there is still some faith in the rules to prevent it from happening.
In the late 1990s, most countries adopted a ban on cloning biotechnology to prevent anyone from trying to create human life. And even in countries that don’t have laws to prevent this, it’s not acceptable.
Chinese authorities reacted harshly to a doctor there who claimed to have manipulated human embryos.
Humans are excellent at creating new and incredibly powerful tools like nuclear bombs and biotechnology.
AI is one such tool. But we have demonstrated the ability to tune them.
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Perhaps this is an overly optimistic view – but it is certainly more than you can say about our ability to reign in another aspect of human nature – making profits at the expense of the environment. school.
Despite more than 20 years of international negotiations to tackle climate change, carbon emissions continue to rise.
The environment (for example, our forests and oceans) on which all of our economic output depends, continues to deplete faster than it can replace itself.
And this is where AI can save us.
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It can’t solve all of humanity’s problems, but it does provide chemists with powerful artificial intelligence that can create a new catalyst that sucks carbon out of the atmosphere.
Physicists have used it to accelerate the development of nuclear fusion reactions that provide infinite energy without warming the planet.
Researchers at tech giant Nvidia are trying to harness massive computing power to create a “digital twin” planet that could allow artificial intelligence to guide us through limited options we are left with to prevent ecological catastrophe.
Human intelligence has evolved over millions of years, and on current trends, by mid-century, the planet will be warmer than ever during that long evolution.
Stop worrying about how artificial intelligence will replace us, and instead find a way to use it to save us from ourselves.