“I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this,” Shane Legg of Google’s DeepMind division. Tesla founder Leon Musk on Google’s Alphabet, they could “produce something evil by accident”—including, possibly, “a fleet of artificial intelligence-enhanced robots capable of destroying mankind.” In 2014 Musk announced that A.I. was probably humanity’s “biggest existential threat. With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.”
As reported by the Guardian, San Francisco this week passed strict regulations to reduce the number of delivery robots that technology startups have introduced to the city’s sidewalks.
“Not every innovation is all that great for society,” said the San Francisco supervisor Norman Yee, who authored the legislation. “If we don’t value our society, if we don’t value getting the chance to go the store without being run over by a robot … what is happening?”
Robot permits will be capped at three per company, and nine total at any given time for the entire city. The robots will now only be allowed to operate within certain industrial neighborhoods, on streets with 6ft-wide sidewalks, and must be accompanied by a human chaperone at all times.
In San Francisco, delivery robots have quietly taken to the sidewalks of over the past year.
A coalition of residents, pedestrian advocates, and activists for seniors and people with disabilities lambasted the robots as “aggressively entrepreneurial wet dreams” and “the future Ubers of the sidewalk”.
“Are robots necessary?” asked San Francisco resident Lori Liederman. “Maybe it isn’t just our safety that’s in jeopardy. Maybe it’s our humanity as well.”
“I think we can build A.I. so it works for us and helps us,” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg posted last year. “Some people fear-monger about how A.I. is a huge danger, but that seems far-fetched to me and much less likely than disasters due to widespread disease, violence, etc.”
Stephen Hawking told the BBC, “I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” And Bill Gates has reported that A.I. was potentially more dangerous than a nuclear catastrophe.
In a Vanity Fair interview futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that by the 2030s, we will be cyborgs, with nanobots the size of blood cells connecting us to synthetic neocortices in the cloud, giving us access to virtual reality and augmented reality from within our own nervous systems. Nanobots in our veins and arteries will cure diseases and heal our bodies from the inside.
As for Musk’s concerns Kurzweil said our A.I. progeny “may be friendly and may not be” and that “if it’s not friendly, we may have to fight it.”