In a recent New Yorker article and podcast interview, Ted Chiang, artist in residence at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS), discusses the future of artificial intelligence, arguing that some of its alleged dangers are unwarranted.
In the New Yorker article, “Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter,” the acclaimed science fiction author examines an increasingly-voiced concern that the design of advanced artificial intelligence programs could lead to an “intelligence explosion,” with programs designing better and better versions of themselves without end. Chiang carefully examines this concern, arguing that “the more we scrutinize [its] implicit assumptions…the less plausible the idea of an intelligence explosion becomes.”
Chiang also addresses this line of thinking during an interview on the Ezra Klein Show. Asked whether we should fear super-intelligent self-replicating artificial intelligence, Chiang said, “Most of our fears or anxieties about technology are best understood as fears or anxiety about how capitalism will use technology against us. And technology and capitalism have been so closely intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish the two.”
During the podcast, Chiang also discusses a broad range of other issues, including the difference between magic and technology, the difference between science fiction and fantasy, problems with superheroes and free will, whether humanity will make artificial intelligence suffer, and what would happen if we found parrots on Mars.
The NDIAS convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty fellows, top doctoral candidates, and undergraduate scholars to study questions that require a joint focus, benefit from sustained research and discussion, and advance our understanding of core issues that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives. To learn more, please visit ndias.nd.edu.