Poll: A majority now recognize the threat of Artificial Intelligence

I’ve certainly been yelling at all the sheeple and telling them to wake up for years now. Maybe it’s starting to sink in?

Perhaps so. One of the latest surveys from Scott Rasmussen polling shows that a majority of Americans now describe themselves as seeing Artificial Intelligence as either somewhat of a threat or a very serious threat to humanity. And statistically speaking, this almost certainly includes a few people who have never seen the Terminator movie series. (Rasmussen)

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters believe that Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is at least somewhat of a threat to the human race. A ScottRasmussen.com national survey found that 43% disagree and do not see it as a threat.

Those figures include 16% who consider A.I. is a Very Serious threat while 10% say it is not a threat at all.

Concern about A.I. threatening the human race has been a regular feature of science-fiction films, including classics such as The Matrix. The number currently considering A.I. to be a threat is up three points since November. Other recent studies show a significant increase in the number who believe A.I. and Robotics will lead to mass unemployment. There has also been a growing concern about the impact of A.I. on education, health care, and the economy.

The demographics on this one may be interesting. Younger people are more likely to see AI as a threat than people over fifty. (I’d have predicted the opposite, personally.) Also, Republican are more likely to be worried about it than Democrats. That one was a big surprise since party loyalty tends to skew the other way, with Republicans tending to be older and Democrats younger.

If you’re not concerned about this then you probably have a good life insurance policy. After all, we’ve already had one AI robot kill a worker at a VW plant. People have been debating both the technology and the ethics behind both robots and artificial intelligence for years. But at least for now, most of the real damage can still be plausibly written off as accidents.

The fact is that we still don’t know if true Artificial Intelligence will actually wind up being a massive threat because we haven’t created it yet. Oh, we have some clever algorithms out there to be sure, some of which can imitate humans to the point where they’re regularly passing the Turing Test. But they’re still just executing commands input by humans.

To date, at least to the best of our knowledge, there isn’t a single AI program that’s come up with an original thought. And until one does, we won’t have true Artificial Intelligence. What’s more, we’re not even sure if it’s possible, primarily because we don’t really understand how our own brains work all that well. No amount of science can explain the human soul or what it is that allows us to do so much more than simply retrieve and process data the way our computers do.

But assuming it’s possible (and for all we know, it’s already happened and it’s just lurking out there in the cloud, biding its time), the moment the first AI “wakes up” will either usher in an amazing new era for mankind or be the beginning of the end. My money is on the latter, but I tend to be a pessimist anyway. And I probably won’t live to see the full robot revolution, so I can dump the problem in the laps of you young people.