Experts weigh in on the bright side of AI

Image: Human and machine hand
Can humans and machines get along? (Credit: Imperial College London)

Experts on artificial intelligence are following up on the first White House workshop on artificial intelligence, presented last month in Seattle, with a session that addresses a central question about the technology: What good can it do for humanity?

Whenever folks talk about AI, the discussion usually turns to the dark side. Will machines surpass us, even rule over us? Researchers point out that although computers can be programmed to outdo unassisted humans in specialized tasks, such as playing the game of Go, artificial general intelligence still lags far behind human capabilities.

But if there’s even a minuscule risk that robot overlords will prevail, as claimed by luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, why take the chance? At Tuesday’s White House workshop, the second in a series of four, the spotlight focuses on why we should turn to the bright side of AI.

“AI has been successfully applied to societal challenge problems, and it has a great potential to provide tremendous social good in the future,” the Computing Community Consortium’s Helen Wright says in a blog post advancing the session.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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