Will artificial intelligence improve or harm the world? Q&A With Ali Minai

From the website of the Doha Debates:

Q: Is AI growing for better or for worse?

ALI: Both. AI poses many dangers that people are now waking up to, such as biases in automated decision-making, the creation of hyper-realistic false information, the profiling and micro-targeting of people for commercial exploitation. And then there is the fear that AI will take away millions of jobs. One area where there’s serious alarm is autonomous weapons. Every technology that can be used as a weapon ultimately has been throughout history. It is guaranteed to happen with AI. In principle, when you have an intelligent weapon, it could reduce unintended casualties, but it will also be much more lethal and tempting to use. That’s why it is critical to develop rules and treaties for intelligent autonomous munitions just as we have for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Unfortunately, military imperatives often trump regulations and treaties.

On balance, I think the benefits of AI are greater. While weapons will become more lethal and the loss of jobs will hit some people hard, humanity will also benefit immensely. Diseases will be diagnosed better, robots will perform complex surgery more reliably, self-driving cars will allow disabled people to travel more easily, and assistive technologies will improve the lives of elderly people. All these benefits probably outweigh smart weapons and economic dislocation in the end, just as happened with past technological revolutions. But yes, for the person at the other end of that smart weapon or pink slip, AI will be a serious problem.

More here.