I was in on the early stages of AI development, back when we called them expert systems and the software expert systems software. From that perspective, I can add two reasons that AI is not a threat to mankind.

  1. Power comes from asking questions, not providing answers. Until the questions are formulated, answers are not forthcoming. The key question to ask anyone who is afraid of AI is: what is the question the AI is being asked to answer. AI can’t formulate questions because questions require desires and desires are emotions based on physiological reactions in the body. They are not thoughts. Questions are desires expressed as thoughts. When AI’s develop feelings, call me back then.
  2. There’s this thing that comes with every computer: a power cord. If your AI gets to be a pain in the ass, pull the plug. Problem solved.

That may sound simplistic until you remember that the number one computer troubleshooting technique is to simply turned the damned thing off and on again, which works in 90% of the cases. Despite claims to the contrary, that’s pretty much what happened with the Hubble telescope last month. I used to have an NEC HO2 computer (circa 1983) that would occasionally stop working. After taking it apart and putting it together without getting my desired outcome, I hit the damned thing with a rubber mallet and it started right again…and did so again every time I had to hit it with the hammer.

Alan is a poet, journalist, short story writer, editor, website developer, and political activist. He is the executive editor of BindleSnitch.com.