If we were to wake up one day and find ourselves a million years removed from this current point in time, what would we see? Would the planet still be in the same state it is in at the moment? Are humans still the dominant species on Earth? Have we abandoned our planet and colonized far away planets and remote solar systems?
Whilst it would be comforting to think that we would still be around a million years from now, there is a chance we may not be, whether that be due to environmental reasons such as climate change, a random asteroid hit or a nuclear war – there are certainly isn’t a lack of doomsday scenarios. But what if our species survived unscathed without any issues for all that time – would we still be the dominant, apex predator we are at the moment?
If you were to believe certain science and technology leaders, such as Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking, we could be at risk of losing our title as this planet’s top dog if we don’t begin to take AI seriously. Despite warnings from the aforementioned and several others, AI technology has continued to grow and develop. Some projects have failed, others have been built upon and a multitude have been created – but a trend has begun to form.
As popular media has quickly picked up, every time a new intelligent software or program is released it inevitably begins to malfunction. Twitter’s AI experiment failed after it was corrupted by trolls and began spouting hate speech, Facebook’s chat AI was put on the back burner with developers describing it as “misbehaving”, whilst a program designed to write horror stories was touted as having exceeded expectations – which, when you think about it, is truly terrifying.
So what are the odds of an AI takeover leading to our new potential overlords being the planet’s keepers?
According to Stephen Hawking, the risk is real – certainly more so than that of a “Planet of the Apes” style scenario. I will let you decide as to how serious or what odds that gives us, but for world renowned experts to speak up, you must believe that there is indeed the potential for us to outdo ourselves and create our own demise. That is, of course, if we don’t manage to destroy ourselves in another equally ironic or rather poetic development – after all, making mistakes makes us human.