Artificial Intelligence: a danger to mankind, or the key to a better world?

12 September 2018

Siri, Alexa and Cortana are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (or A.I.), which is playing an increasingly pervasive role in our lives.

In the background, AI is being used in a huge range of settings, from helping to land a plane, to getting a parcel to you more quickly, and deciding whether you get a job interview.

But there are growing concerns that these powerful technologies pose equally powerful dangers, even posing an existential threat to humanity itself.

Some legislators and technologists are worried that so-called “general AI” – or machine-based intelligence that resembles basic human intelligence - could develop superintelligence capabilities at an exponential rate, escaping human control, with untold consequences for mankind.

On 11 September, UNESCO, the UN’s  Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, hosted a roundtable discussion entitled “Artificial Intelligence: Reflection on its Complexity and Impact on Society”, featuring experts from academia and industry.

The talk was hosted by Peter-Paul Verbeek, a Philosophy Professor at Twente University in the Netherlands, and a member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST).

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

With AI, jobs are changing but no mass unemployment expected – UN labour experts

The rise of frontier technologies like Artificial Intelligence has caused fears of robots taking over blue-collar jobs, but a United Nations expert says humans still have the upper hand given their creativity and ability to form relationships.   

As robotics advance in South-East Asia, investment needed to build skilled workforce – UN labour agency

The robot age is already a reality among manufacturers in South-East Asia, where countries have been incrementally introducing automation to improve quality, consistency, and workplace safety, with robots deployed in human-centric, collaborative ways to raise the productivity of higher skilled workers, rather than replace them, a new study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found.