AI will surpass human intelligence after 2020

Vernor Vinge, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, is interviwed by ComputerWorld.  Here are a few questions:

 When intelligent machines finally appear, what will they look like?

Most likely they will be less visible than computers are now. They would mostly operate via the networks and the processors built into the ordinary machines of our everyday life. On the other hand, the results of their behaviour could be very spectacular changes in our physical world. (One exception: mobile robots, even before the Singularity, will probably become very impressive — with devices that are more agile and coordinated than human athletes, even in open-field situations.)

Could nanotechnology, genetic engineering and quantum computers could represent a threat to Mankind, as Bill Joy, the former Sun executive, warned in 2000 with his “Why the future doesn’t need us”?

The world (and the universe) is full of mortal threats. Technology is the source of some of those threats — but it has also protected us from others. I believe that technology itself is life’s surest response to the ongoing risks.

Right now the Pentagon is employing 5,000 robots in Iraq, patrolling cities, disarming explosives or making reconnaissance flights. The next step is allowing them to carry weapons. Does this lead to a “Terminator” scenario?

That’s conceivable, though not a reason for turning away from robotics in general. Old-fashioned thermonuclear world war and some types of biowarfare are much simpler, more likely, and probably more deadly than the “Terminator” scenario.

 

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