Preparing for the Technology Revolution Created by Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence will soon bring on another technological revolution, where machines may take your job and shake up the economy in the process. Drones are being used in warfare; Google, Tesla, and other companies are working on self-driving cars; and robots are designed to be superb conversationalists (similar to reality painted in the movie ‘Her’).

On KPCB’s latest episode of Ventured, I spoke with Jerry Kaplan, author of Humans Need Not Apply, and John Markoff, author of Machines of Loving Grace, about their views of the benefits and consequences of artificial intelligence. We talked about the impact of artificial intelligence and its effect on society, as well as ways to design machines so humans aren’t left out of the decision making process. Take a listen to our conversation below.

Machine learning can solve problems that humans can’t

Thanks to the advancement of faster computers and the ability to compute large amounts of data, machine learning has evolved over the years. Machines can extract order out of large data sets replacing humans in the medical and legal fields.

Elon Musk is worried AI will be used for destruction. Is it really that big of a threat?

The Future of Life Institute was set up by Elon Musk with a $10M grant to ensure that AI is used for good as concerns grow around the ethical risks of designing machines that replace human operators. As seen with weapon systems, AI is being used to solve problems, but the technology itself isn’t self-aware.

We are half a step away from the movie ‘Her’

Machines are getting much better at acting like humans. However, the ethical dilemma occurs when someone is fooled by the intelligent machines. While the machines may provide a functional connection, the emotional relationships aren’t lasting.

Robots for the aging population

An aging population and low birth rates will change society. People are relying on and relating to machines in a more intimate way. Ultimately, demographic changes in the population have a far greater impact than any influence of technology, such as in the case of China. With a rapidly aging society, robots could be introduced at a time when the workforce is contracting.

Drones that kill

Machines can sense their environment and make decisions on who to kill. If machines don’t feel remorse, then the very human moral instinct is eliminated. In the wrong hands, there could be ethical concerns over how the technology is used.

Robots will take your job

Jobs may disappear as tasks become automated. Historically, the introduction of technology into the workforce has advanced agriculture, accounting, law, genetics, information technology and other fields. However, the people who were doing those jobs, have now lost their jobs. Social policies need to reflect what’s happening in the economy as well as technological advances.

Self-driving cars provide more opportunities for productivity

Uber has disrupted the taxi market through peer-to-peer transportation. What will happen when driverless cars enter the market? Will they replace Uber drivers? Kaplan argues that self-driving cars putting Uber drivers out of work isn’t the problem. By automating the commute, passengers are productive during that time and that is what is going to put someone else out of work.

Existential threat to humanity is not AI

If AI isn’t a threat, then the modification of the genetic structure is. Robots aren’t the problem, it’s people. These machines aren’t evolving by themselves. Humans are the ones designing the systems we are going to live in in the future.