Artificial Intelligence

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Artificial Intelligence is not intelligent, but it is changing the world.  It certainly poses a risk to some - perhaps many - jobs, but does it pose a risk to the human race, as some have claimed?

One of the significant risks is that AI models need to be trained on large amounts of data - so they will reliably reproduce any bias and injustice which is recorded in the data.

Another significant risk is that people will learn to trust AI, so when it fails - and it will - we may not spot the mistake before it is too late.

One significant concern is about the use of AI in autonomous weapon systems: it is hard to see how we can avoid an AI-powered arms race once the technology is available, and hard to see how any global convention banning the military use of AI could possibly be policed.  Wikipedia describes some current applications.

AI and Climate Change

AI is a tool which can be used to help us combat climate change, but is it worth the risk?  Or does the risk caused by climate change outweigh the risk from AI?  It is in some ways analogous to the calculation performed by Robert Oppenheimer (as seen in the recent film) - the first atomic bomb might cause a chain reaction which destroys the world, but the risk is small, and worth taking in order to win the war.

While AI might help improve the technology we need to combat climate change, the amount of energy required to train and run AI systems is significant ("Making an image with generative AI uses as much energy as charging your phone"), and rapidly growing.  It may help us, but the cost of that help, in pure energy and Carbon emission terms, may be greater than the AI delivers.

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