We have viewed the potential of artificial intelligence from a variety of angles, and while it is true that the focus is increasingly on political issues and practical applications of the technology, sometimes an important element is forgotten: the way AI creators view its future.
Things are heating up and imagined disaster scenarios are multiplying. Some already see AI as a modern day Frankenstein monster that will eventually turn against its creators. Yet, we must keep in mind that the companies working on this technology are well aware of the dangers and they are trying to reassure us.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, chose to speak on the topic to the Washington Post. The most skeptical will already find it amusing that the interests and actions of technology giants are defended in a newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s CEO). In any case, he acknowledged that the fear of AI is “quite legitimate”.
Sundar Pichai explained his vision: AI cannot be created, malfunction and then repaired. He believes that this is not how AI will work. This goes against the American entrepreneurial mentality where the dominant idea is to go for it and accept failure when it happens, in order to get back on track. With AI failure is not an option – you have to do things right from the start. That’s encouraging – the stronger the foundation, the less likely the building is to collapse. Mr. Pichai also said that the giants of artificial intelligence will be able to regulate themselves, an optimistic prediction the veracity of which is yet to be proven.
Sundar Pichai also reviewed the development of the principles that guide the field of AI research. The fact that these principles, published last June, were published just after the announcement of the collaboration with the US Department of Defense is certainly not a coincidence. Google needed to restore its image as a pacifist company.
In any case, an ethical dimension to the use of artificial intelligence is both a strength – on the moral level – and a weakness in terms of competitiveness, since in China technology companies work directly with the state, which gives them a considerable advantage in terms of armaments.
In short, we have a speech worthy of La Haine: “So far, everything is fine, but the important thing is not the fall but the landing.”
What do you think the Google CEO’s statements? Share your thoughts in the comments.