Snog, marry, or avoid? A review of three radically different visions of the future of Artificial Intelligence

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In this article, three very different types of visions are explored, through reviews of three recent books that deal with the future of AI: Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence (by James Lovelock), Humanity’s Last Stand: The Challenge of Artificial Intelligence – A Spiritual-Scientific Response (by Nicanor Perlas), and Artificial Intelligence: Modern Magic or Dangerous Future (by Yorick Wilks). The books are not necessarily representative of any stream of thought, which would indeed be very difficult, given the wide variety of approaches even between sub-groups of a larger current like, for example, transhumanism. But each of the three books does seem to embody one of what we view as three big types of attitudes towards the potential advancements in AI. One of them is a radical kind of optimism ("marry"). This usually manifests as either a belief that AI cannot be anything other than hugely beneficial, or as an acceptance that the emergence of intelligent robots is nothing but a natural step in a higher cosmic order of evolution. Another approach stands at the opposite end of the spectrum, raising desperate alarms that new technologies will break society apart, or, even more severely, that “we are summoning the demon”, and that AI will eventually turn against us, leading to our extinction ("avoid"). Finally, the third attitude is one of moderation and cautious optimism, acknowledging the potential transformative power of AI for good or worse, but being less radical in both the enthusiasm and the concern ("snog").
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-17
Number of pages14
JournalESSSAT News & Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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