Researchers produce Global Risks report, AI and other technologies included in it
Let's face it, we're always at risk, and I speak for human kind, not just the personal risks we take each time we leave our homes. Some of these potential terrors are unavoidable -- we can't control the asteroid we find hurtling towards us or the next super volcano that may erupt as the Siberian Traps once did.
Some risks however, are well within our control, yet we continue down paths that are both exciting and potentially dangerous. In his book Demon Haunted World, the great astronomer, teacher and TV personality Carl Sagan wrote "Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves".
Now researchers have published a list of the risks we face and several of them are self-created. Perhaps the most prominent is artificial intelligence, or AI as it generally referred to. The technology has been fairly prominent in the news recently as both Elon Musk and Bill Gates have warned of its dangers. Musk went as far as to invest in some of the companies so that he could keep an eye on things.
The new report states "extreme intelligences could not easily be controlled (either by the groups creating them, or by some international regulatory regime), and would probably act to boost their own intelligence and acquire maximal resources for almost all initial AI motivations".
Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world's most famous scientist, told the BBC "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race".
That's three obviously intelligent men telling us it's a bad idea, but of course that will not deter those who wish to develop it and if it is controlled correctly then it may not be the huge danger we worry about.
What else is on the list of doom and gloom? Several more man-made problems, including nuclear war, global system collapse, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology. There is also the usual array of asteroids, super volcanoes and global pandemics. For good measure, the scientists even added in bad global governance.
If you would like to read the report for yourself it can be found at the Global Challenges Foundation website. It may keep you awake at night -- even better than a good horror movie could.