Mark Zuckerberg Is A Bad Futurist – HuffPost

Posted: July 27, 2017 at 9:40 am

Elon Musks doomsday AI predictions arent irresponsible, but Mark Zuckerbergs techno-optimism is.

Mark Zuckerberg criticized Elon Musk on Sunday for warning a group of governors that artificial intelligence poses a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization. During a Facebook Live broadcast from his backyard, Zuckerberg said Musks cautioning was pretty irresponsible, and really negative.

But at a time when some of the brightest minds on the planet are saying that AI could pose a significant existential threat, isnt it more irresponsible to dismiss Musks warnings, in favor of keeping people blindly optimistic about technology? Zuckerbergs relentless techno-optimism is misguided at best, and dangerous at worst. Heres why:

1. A good futurist is capable of imagining and exploring all future scenarios, not just the positive ones.

Yes, AI may help save lives, but that doesnt mean it cant take lives, too. At this stage, we know so little about how AI will develop that both scenarios are equally plausible, and every possible scenario deserves careful consideration.

Zuckerberg argues that AI, like every new technology, can be used for good or for bad. But as Musk pointed out in his speech, the AI revolution is expected to be qualitatively different than other technological advancements. Once a superintelligent AI emerges, the option of steering AI to be good or bad (whatever that may mean) may no longer be in our control. And to assume that humans will stay in control, despite having a drastically inferior intelligence, is just arrogant.

2. Technology needs more nay-sayers like Musk.

We already live in a world that worships technology and believes almost anything could be improved if you slap an algorithm on it. Wouldnt society be better off if we had more thinkers like Musk that were willing to ponder the disaster storylines, instead of having blind faith in black-box technology?

Zuckerbergs optimism may be uplifting and on-brand and great for Facebook PR, but it doesnt help motivate people to prepare for and prevent the potential negative consequences of technology. Tackling tech challenges with a build-it-and-see-what-happens approach (a la Zuckerbergs former move fast and break things development mantra) just isnt suitable for AI. As Musk put it, By the time we are reactive in regulation, its too late. Weve already seen some of the negative effects of AI emerge, and this is likely only the beginning.

3. No ones saying we should halt progress on AI altogether; rather, experts like Musk believe we need to be thoughtful and think critically about how we move forward with it.

Elon Musk doesnt just have it out for AIthis is the same man who expects us to let AIs drive us around, after allhe just wants policymakers to start considering regulations for AI. Asking governors to entertain possible consequences of AI isnt irresponsible, in fact, its the only responsible thing to do.

He wants the industry to hit pause and think before building out the most significant technology of our species existence. Whats unreasonable about that?

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Mark Zuckerberg Is A Bad Futurist - HuffPost

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