Bill McKibben is a climate change campaigner. He and his organization, 350.org, are fighting against the continued combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. I was interested to discover, though, that worrying about global warming and climate change is not the only thing that Mr. McKibben is worrying about. Here he is, in a recent blog posting, talking about the latest programs demonstrating "artificial intelligence," another worrisome topic:
Precisely twenty years ago, I published a book called Enough that outlined my fears about artificial intelligence and its companion technologies like advanced robotics and human genetic engineering. It did well enough, [but] ... like most warnings it came too early; indeed, warnings generally come too early until they are too late.
Click on this link to get McKibben's complete argument. In the end, it can be summed up as follows, using his own words: "Regular old intelligence is sufficient."
McKibben's blog posting on artificial intelligence urges his readers to follow up on what McKibben has to say by reading a recent New Yorker article, authored by Sue Halpern. Halpern's article is titled, "What We Still Don’t Know About How A.I. Is Trained." Like McKibben's article, Halpern's article is worth reading.
I share McKibben's worries about both global warming and artificial intelligence, and I want to emphasize what I think is a particularly pertinent observation by McKibben. Human beings are wonderfully creative and capable creatures. We can do virtually anything we set our minds to. However, we ought not to forget that human beings possess "one gift shared by no other creature, and perhaps by no machine."
What is that gift? Here's what McKibben says. He's right:
We are the animal that can, if we want to, decide not to do something we’re capable of doing.
Let's not forget that. Sometimes, we don't need more. We have enough.
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