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AI will save us, not kill us

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Marc Andreesson of Andreesson Horowitz fame, the leading investor in fintech start-ups, published a long piece on how AI will save us the other day. It is well worth a read, but it is a long read (about 30 minutes) so, if you don't have the time, here is a short summation of what he says:

Why AI Will Save the World by Marc Andreessen

A short description of what AI is: The application of mathematics and software code to teach computers how to understand, synthesize, and generate knowledge in ways similar to how people do it. AI is a computer program like any other – it runs, takes input, processes, and generates output. AI’s output is useful across a wide range of fields, ranging from coding to medicine to law to the creative arts. It is owned by people and controlled by people, like any other technology.

A shorter description of what AI isn’t: Killer software and robots that will spring to life and decide to murder the human race or otherwise ruin everything, like you see in the movies.

An even shorter description of what AI could be: A way to make everything we care about better.

A core tenet is that every child and person will have an AI assistant/coach/mentor/trainer/advisor/therapist that is infinitely patient, infinitely compassionate, infinitely knowledgeable, and infinitely helpful. The AI assistant will be present through all of life’s opportunities and challenges, maximizing every person’s outcomes … in short, anything that people do with their natural intelligence today can be done much better with AI, and we will be able to take on new challenges that have been impossible to tackle without AI, from curing all diseases to achieving interstellar travel …

In contrast to this positive view, the public conversation about AI is presently shot through with hysterical fear and paranoia. We hear claims that AI will variously kill us all, ruin our society, take all our jobs, cause crippling inequality, and enable bad people to do awful things. What explains this divergence in potential outcomes from near utopia to horrifying dystopia?

… and wow do we have a full-blown moral panic about AI right now. This moral panic is already being used as a motivating force by a variety of actors to demand policy action – new AI restrictions, regulations, and laws. These actors, who are making extremely dramatic public statements about the dangers of AI – feeding on and further inflaming moral panic – all present themselves as selfless champions of the public good. But are they?

… I close with two simple statements.

The development of AI started in the 1940’s, simultaneous with the invention of the computer. The first scientific paper on neural networks – the architecture of the AI we have today – was published in 1943. Entire generations of AI scientists over the last 80 years were born, went to school, worked, and in many cases passed away without seeing the payoff that we are receiving now. They are legends, every one.

Today, growing legions of engineers – many of whom are young and may have had grandparents or even great-grandparents involved in the creation of the ideas behind AI – are working to make AI a reality, against a wall of fear-mongering and doomerism that is attempting to paint them as reckless villains. I do not believe they are reckless or villains. They are heroes, every one. My firm and I are thrilled to back as many of them as we can, and we will stand alongside them and their work 100%.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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