Published: Written in Crawley, UK
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Artificial intelligence: who owns the future? — written by Cennydd Bowles

Cennydd always makes compelling points when it comes to ethics in tech. Here’s another fab article from him.

The late Gordon Moore famously observed that computing power doubles every two years. For a long time you’d be forgiven for barely noticing. Our devices got faster and smaller, sure, but ultimately they were still computers doing computer things, just more efficiently.

But as Hemingway describes, exponential curves start slow then get quick. Suddenly we’re seeing astonishing change. Powerful cloud computing, paired with new programming techniques and oceans of data, is writing convincing essays, passing exams, and painting compelling pictures on request. Bill Gates says these generative AI systems are the most important technology advance in decades. He’s right, and progress is likely to accelerate from here. But as AI systems mature they also pose deep questions about the future we want to inhabit, and who gets to build it…

…Beyond the contemporary issues lurk deeper long-term questions. What should and shouldn’t we automate? Should we create lethal autonomous weapons, or should a human always take charge of life-and-death decisions? How will we earn a living and even find meaning if AIs eliminate jobs? And if we ever create AIs that are smarter than us, will they value the same things we value – not least human life itself?

These are profound questions which deserve democratic debate. But today only a tiny cluster of AI firms, often funded by the world’s richest and most powerful people, are calling the shots. Is this the future we want?

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