5 terrifying stories that warn of an AI apocalypse

5 terrifying stories that warn of an AI apocalypse

By Lauren Tousignant December 28, 2017 | 1:01pm | Updated

The future of artificial intelligence could save humanity — or destroy it.

AI boasts dozens of advantages that will push society into a brighter future, like nagging you into losing weight, fighting workplace sexual harassment and gender bias and detecting if someone is at risk for suicide.

But the civilization-destroying potential of AI makes it a greater threat than a savior.

Here are five stories from 2017 that should have you ready to prep for the AI apocalypse.

1. Robots can pretend to be you

In May, the Canadian startup Lyrebird unveiled their voice-copying technology.

The “Mission Impossible”-style program can learn and mimic your voice using just 60 seconds of you speaking.

Placed in the wrong hands — like those of an AI overlord — the tech could easily be used against someone, to convince them to go somewhere or scam them out of money or personal property.

2. AI can read your mind

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon developed an AI that can anticipate and predict human thought.

The software was trained using fMRI brain scans, which observed the patterns of brain activity that create a thought and then predicted them by working in reverse.

“One of the big advances of the human brain was the ability to combine individual concepts into complex thoughts,” Marcel Just, the project’s lead researcher, told BGR. “To think not just of ‘bananas,’ but ‘I like to eat bananas in the evening with my friends.’ We have finally developed a way to see thoughts of that complexity in the fMRI signal.”

Once the robots know what we’re thinking — they’ll know how to defeat us.

3. AI can master anything

What can take humans a lifetime can take AI a day.

In December, Google announced that their AlphaZero AI only took four hours to develop a “superhuman performance” in chess.

The AI is the culmination of years of research that began with a different AI program learning and mastering the Chinese board game Go. Except that AI learned Go through watching humans play — while AlphaZero mastered chess by teaching itself.

“I always wondered how it would be if a superior species landed on Earth and showed us how they played chess,” Peter Heine Nielsen, a chess grandmaster, told the BBC. “Now I know.”

Also in December, an AI software mastered the stock market and proved more competent at picking stocks than humans. The program was so successful that it even stunned its own developers.

“We launched with $2.5 million in assets and were hoping to get to $40 million by the end of the year,” Art Armador, co-founder of EquBot LLC, which sponsored the fund, told MarketWatch. “Instead, we got that within the first week and now we’re north of $70 million. It blew our minds.”

4. It can breed

One of Google’s supercomputers created its own “AI child” that proved more advanced than anything humans have ever engineered.

The AI, named NASNet, becomes smarter through “reinforcement learning.” NASNet repeats tasks thousands of times and reports the effort back to its parent AI.

Currently, the young AI can watch videos and recognize cars and people. NASNet is 82.7 percent accurate at predicting images, meaning it’s “outperformed all other computer vision systems,” according to Futurism.

5. Elon Musk is convinced we’re doomed

The Tesla and SpaceX founder has been relentless in warning humanity that we’re definitely screwed.

Musk normally takes to Twitter to express his opinions. In September, he said AI will probably cause World War III, tweeting “Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3.”

After a new study in June claimed that AI will overtake humans by 2060, Musk tweeted that it will probably be “closer to 2030 or 2040.” And in July, while speaking at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island, Musk stressed that AI poses the biggest threat to civilization.

“I keep sounding the alarm bell,” he said, “but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”

Musk has also gotten into spats with Mark Zuckering — a self-described AI “optimist” — over the risk AI poses to the future of humanity.


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