No Robots!

I wonder if the people at this year’s SXSW tech conference who were protesting against continuing advancements in artificial intelligence understand that A.I. and robots are not the same thing.

I understand their concerns; we have seen rapid advancements lately in artificial intelligence thanks to significant investments in the field, especially deep learning, by Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and Google. Couple that with warnings from people who know what they are talking about, such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and it sounds like things could get out of hand.

Meet your new daddy

Meet your new daddy

All of these issues have come to a head at the South by Southwest (SXSW) tech conference, with a surprisingly robust protest against the recent advancements made in machine learning. Full disclosure, this conference also covers film and music in what are actually three different conferences. And by surprisingly robust, I don’t mean big, I mean that it happened it all is surprising since it was led by teh people at a tech conference that doesn’t usually see protests at all.

Anyway, the protest was led by Adam Mason, who just happens to be a computer engineer. We saw similar concerns about technology when the Large Hadron Collider came online, with people worried it would destroy the universe. In that case, however, Stephen Hawking said there was nothing to worry about.

But we’ve talked about A.I. and its ramifications in class, and from the protest it looks like other people are concerned as well. I suspect we won’t know who’s right until it’s too late, I for one welcome our new robot overlords.