Can machines overpower humans?

Hyperaxion Jan 24, 2020

The advance in artificial intelligence raises pertinent philosophical questions.

José Ignacio Latorre is a popular quantum physicist today. He is widely recognized for his research. He is a teacher, makes documentaries, writes books and still finds time to make wine with a group of friends.

In his first book, “Quantum”, he explores the keys to understanding a science that is transforming the world in which we live. In his second work, “Machine Ethics”, he invites us to reflect on how we will program artificial intelligence and how we can live with them. And that is exactly what we want to talk about.

Machines are changing our concept of humanity

The tools we invent always change the way we behave. (Source: Pixabay).

Cars allowed us to walk less. Contact lenses allowed us to see better. We no longer need to perform calculations. On the other hand, nobody knows how to divide a restaurant bill anymore. Everyone picks up a phone to do this.

What are we doing in the 21st century? Basically, we are starting to make machines that can decide for us. So, the next logical step is to give up our power of choice, right? Not exactly. It all depends on how the artificial intelligence of the future will be programmed and what restrictions we will place on them.

And where are we going?

The world is increasingly digital. (Source: Pixabay).

Living side by side with artificial intelligence will be very complex. In this scenario, there would be no trivial decisions. For example, by law, the United States Department of Justice has commissioned an artificial intelligence program to assist judges in a variety of ways.

The US legal system is based on case law, that is, what previous judges have done sets a precedent. Therefore, if today we have to judge a new person, we must take into account what has been done before.

Now, why not use advanced artificial intelligence to do a detailed study of everything that has been done before? It will be able to make a much more informed decision, due to its superhuman ability to take all previous cases into account and arrive at the best logical conclusion.

The future of the health sector

Machines may replace doctors
In the near future, machines may replace doctors. (Image from Pete LinforthPixabay)

Imagine that you have a sick child. The best thing here would be to take him to the doctor, right? Do you prefer a professional to make a diagnosis or a machine? What if the machine makes a wrong diagnosis and your child, due to this, is forced to stay the rest of his life in bed? Well, according to experts, it is a matter of time before the diagnosis of a machine becomes more reliable than that of a doctor, since artificial intelligence can learn much more quickly and efficiently. Therefore, in the future, it will probably be safer to take your sick child to a “machine doctor”.

The dangers of badly programmed artificial intelligence

What if that same machine has the power to decide whether your child should live or die? After all, a person in a hospital bed may be taking the place of someone who needs help. Thus, if, for some reason, the machine is programmed to prioritize efficiency at any cost, it can conclude that the person must die. Therefore, the more important the role that artificial intelligence plays, the greater the care needed when programming it, especially when lives are at stake.

Ethics and responsibility

Ethics and responsibility
Technology will define our future. (Image from PIRO4DPixabay)

In the future, everything will be programmable and artificial intelligence may play a very important role in the transformation, not only in the health sector but also in economic and political models. This is inevitable. Digital cities are already here.

For this reason, we must strongly emphasize that individuals who program artificial intelligence act with great responsibility, because the power to change the world, for better or worse, is in their hands.


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