Ponder artificial intelligence impacts
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
“The Times They Are a-Changin.” That old lyric is increasingly accurate, especially when it comes to today’s evolving GRAIN technologies — genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.
In the 10 years I’ve worked on this, I’ve seen enormous ramping up in pace of development. One driver of this exponential change is funding from the billionaire class, now deeply engaged.
China is building a $10 billion quantum computing lab, raising concerns in Western countries about falling behind. (Forbes 3/19) China invests $2 billion in a Beijing AI technology park. Vladimir Putin said whoever leads in AI will rule the world. Republicans and Democrats, before the recent government shutdown, cooperated to fund a $1 billion national quantum computing program. Is that enough to keep up?
A few years ago, a successful Greenville businessman who ran, unsuccessfully, for mayor suggested our city may be a well-suited experimental platform for driverless vehicles. It was a debatable proposal needing more information and context. That said, governments at all levels best be about this kind of forward-thinking if we want an economically viable future.
Will technologically-assisted physical, cognitive, emotional, moral and even spiritual enhancements change us so much it will end humanity as we know it, with homo sapiens replaced by techno sapiens? If so, is this the work of good or evil?
These and other questions are addressed in the next few days in two community lectures. I speak at 11 a.m. Saturday in Bate 1032 on “Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity.” Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner speaks on "More or Less Human? Will Technology Enhance Us or Destroy Us?" at 7 p.m. Monday in the new student center ballroom.
For information about these talks and the ECU Religious Studies-hosted regional conference, visit www.ecu.edu/religionprogram.