I remember how
was when a very basic computer back in
the 1980s easily beat me at chess. That was the
Bryson: Well, that's true. And I'm not claiming that we do have a strong conception of ourselves. I think it was probably really depressing when people found out that the sun didn't go around the earth, too. And (of course, you can hear my accent, I'm an American) people still have issues with the notion of evolution.
I think there's
frustrating but also delightfully
reassuring about the real world robots that we have these days.
Because, generally, when you see they're actually not that good [JB
laughs]. These vacuum cleaning robots, well they're brilliant if you
have a totally flat floor [JB laughs again] and no stairs in your flat.
and I look at that thing and I think, "These things aren't taking over
the world at all!" It can barely vacuum up a room let alone take over
Bryson: Right, it is
ludicrous to worry about the iRobot hoovers taking over
the world... [[cut]] I think that one of the things that worries me
AI and ethics is that we do get on these completely bizarre
trajectories that make us not think about what's really happening. So
one of the things that is really
happening is that we do have
unmanned vehicles in the (you know) battlezone. And if you start
saying "Oh, it's a real agent. We've created life; it has ethics
its own," you can displace responsibility from the people who are the
actual decision makers onto the object. And that's terrible.
To me, that's a much bigger problem --- that people are trying to
misrepresent these things as different than any other object we
create. Just because they have some kind of cleverness.
And yes, they can beat us at chess, and maybe they can do speech recognition. And maybe we'll get to things that can really reason and that we can have decent conversations with. [But] AI is not really exceptional. It's the same kind of thing that happens with soldiers. It's easy to push blame down the ranks, and that's the kind of thing that I worry about.
I worry that we don't worry enough about, for example, our sewage --- our water systems, where is the water coming from for London into the future? And yet we obsess about these things, as you say, these hoovers that can't even get up a flight of stairs.