EU Research Commissioner slams “alarmist and panicked” reports on AI

Commissioner Carlos Moedas says Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a threat in and of itself

EU Research Commissioner slams “alarmist and panicked” reports on AI

Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

The European Union Commissioner for Research has warned that “alarmist and panicked” opinions on the dangers posed by artificial intelligence risk confusing science with science fiction.

In a speech delivered to the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) group, Commissioner Carlos Moedas said Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a threat in and of itself – adding that the dangers lie in how we choose to use it.

“If you do any research on artificial intelligence these days, the results are astonishingly pessimistic,” he said. “Nine articles out of ten on AI are negative.”

“Not just negative - alarmist and panicked, sometimes even hysterical.

“For me, a techno-optimist, it is shocking and very disappointing.”

Artificial Super-Intelligence

Some of the biggest names in technology have voiced real fears over the dangers posed super-intelligent computers.

Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are just some of the leading names to offer dire warnings about the direction the technology is headed – and the real potential for humanity to lose control over its creation.

Earlier this week, Mr Musk - serial entrepreneur and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla - said AI is likely to herald the end of humanity – adding that efforts to make the technology safe now have only a 10% chance of success.

He has repeatedly warned of the potential for a future AI arms race between international governments.

Totally unprepared

Meanwhile in an interview earlier this week, former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned that the US is “totally unprepared” for AI.

She said “a lot of really smart people” are “sounding an alarm that we’re not hearing.”

“Their alarm is artificial intelligence is not our friend,” she said, adding that “it can assist us in many ways if it is properly understood and contained.

She said we are “racing headfirst into a new era” without considering the effects of the technology on a range of matters from employment through security.

“We are totally unprepared for that,” she said.

“One thing I wanted to do if I had been president was to have a kind of blue ribbon commission with people from all kinds of expertise coming together to say what should America’s policy on artificial intelligence be?”

Exciting

In his speech, Mr Moedas insisted that, “Artificial intelligence is not a threat - how we choose to use it is.”

“I think that fearing what is arguably one of the most exciting new technologies of our generation and denying ourselves its amazing benefits is not the answer,” he said.

“Instead, we need to act responsibly towards it and take action to counterbalance abuse of the system.”

Autonomous weapons

Over the summer, 116 experts in the AI field signed an open letter urging the United Nations to ban the use and development of lethal autonomous weapons.

The letter reads: “These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”

“We do not have long to act.

“Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”