I don’t know much about robots, but what I do know – thank you Hollywood – is that they all want to take over the world. The question is, how close are we to that becoming a scientific reality? And should we be worried?
A report by Pew Research canvassed 2,000 experts on artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and economics, for their views on the role of robots in the next 10 years. They were split down the middle: 52% were optimistic about the future, while 48% expressed concern and worry.
There’s big names amongst the worriers. Professor Stephen Hawking said at the end of last year that the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind SpaceX, gave a similarly grave warning of ‘something seriously dangerous happening’ because of AI in the next five years.
One area that worries people is work. It’s argued by some that robots will displace the human workforce, leading to a breakdown in society. Others – let’s call them ‘optimists’ – believe robots will create more jobs for humans than they take over.
The truth of this – and what we should do to adapt in either case – is up for discussion tonight.
Dr Anders Sandberg
James Martin Fellow, Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology
Senior Policy Officer, TUC
CEO, Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET)