Good old bad ‘bots

10 Aug

Post by Stephen Pobjoy

Posted in: General, Machine Learning, Working Futures

Good old bad ‘bots

Digital leadership skills


Stephen Hawking suggested in 2014 that AI could be the last event in the history of our civilisation if humanity did not learn to cope with the risks it posed. This week despite all of the reports this has not come true. At Facebook machines started to communicate by developing their own language. While many reported this as science fiction becoming a reality the facts are that no parameters were set regarding language. and that the chatbots we using a form of shorthand to communicate with each other. The press was quick to react with scaremongering that robots are about to take over.

Professor Hawking has previously explained that AI could develop a “will of its own” which could conflict with the desires of humanity:

“In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.  We do not yet know which”.

There are many choices to be made and it’s not as cut and dried as AI and machine learning becoming either good or evil. The parameters are certainly required, but could AI be put to use to solve real problems – medical, economic, mathematical etc?

Change is scary and then you add in a machine to think for you and the control shifts. Are we comfortable for this to happen? Is it more of an ethical decision and parameters that now need to be formed?

Computers continue to revolutionise the possible, but the human brain also needs exploring. Mix the two together and Elon Musk enters stage left with Neuralink: connecting the brain and a computer via an implant to give human’s extra memory or to give humans the ability to control devices. Development will take a huge amount of cash and time, but the age of the cyborg may not be too far off.

What is scarier – a world of half men/half machines or a robot thinking for us? An implant that helps enrich our learning and knowledge or machines that control our environment, diet, homes, devices, our work and our hobbies?

I’m not sure I can answer that yet. My chip needs a reboot.


This topic and many more on the future of work will be debated at Working Futures, 14th November for more information please contact: #WorkingFutures