No, artificial intelligence (AI) is not a technology like any other that has appeared throughout history and has also been met with skeptics. Newspapers, radio and television cannot produce false news without a human writing, and “an atomic bomb cannot decide which city to destroy”, but AI is “the first technology that can make decisions for itself”. Therefore, it is urgent for governments to regulate it, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari warned this Friday at Estufa Fria in Lisbon.
In his conference, Humanity, it’s not that simple, organized by the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation, recalled one of his recurring ideas as a professor of world history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Now, we are almost like God in terms of the powers of creation and destruction. We have the power to create new life, but we also have the power to destroy it. Man faces two potential collapses: climate and technology.
It was on this second that the thinker who criticized the rapid development of AI focused. Optimistically: “If we work together, we can tackle climate change and AI.”
The challenge is huge because “we haven’t seen anything yet” in terms of AI’s true capabilities. He sought an image: “If the evolution of life on Earth took 4000 million years,” then AI would take “a few decades or years,” much less time than many others, including himself. ChatGPT asks “If AI equals the amoebas of the world, how about a T-rex?” he asked.
“AI is developing very fast. It’s the duty of governments to slow it down,” he asked. Stopping or regulating the development of this technology “isn’t going to happen,” but he sees a way. “What I expect from governments is to regulate the implementation of AI in societies,” imposing safety rules similar to what is happening in the automotive industry, for example.
Yuval Harari proposed a proposal: “Illegalize human counterfeiting”, just like money. If such a law is enacted, artificial intelligence cannot impersonate a human being, and the user must be warned that he is “talking” to a machine. In this way, the risks of mass manipulation are minimized. Such laws are needed because “technology is not going to regulate itself.” However, instead of being “united” in the face of these threats, “we are increasingly divided”.
The matter is very serious, he stressed. Artificial intelligence can “destroy public discourse” among people, which is vital to democracy. “Conversation is done through language” and is based on “trust”. Without regulation, AI can undermine this trust: how do we know whether we’re debating the politician we want to elect, for example—a machine or a human? “Democracy is a dialogue between people, not between.” Bots And people, he summed up.
We already have a sample of this democratic erosion in the “polarization” promoted by social media algorithms that spread misinformation. Now it’s the “oldest artificial intelligence”. It’s already very sophisticated: it can “create a fake story or a fake video by itself”. He concludes: “If we don’t regulate this, democracy has very little chance of survival.”
Sapiens under stress
The author Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind (2013) fear the effects of AI and an increasingly digital world on new generations. “We don’t know what the outcome will be in terms of education in ten or 20 years.”
Not against technology – met her husband reality Thanks to the internet for making life easier for a gay man in the conservative society he grew up in. But the Internet has allowed you to meet a flesh-and-blood person, not an avatar, not mere pixels on a screen. “We are in bodies”, but new generations can experience a dematerialized society in which we can aspire to live out of bodies, almost 100%. realityIn the “metaverse”.
He believes that this perpetual technological revolution is creating stress, and that “we’re getting closer to the point where we can’t take it anymore.” Under penalty of being “psychologically broken”, it is necessary to “slow down”.
What inspires Yuval Noah Harari? “Humans still have an enormous capacity for change. We have immense potential that we don’t even know we have. The evolution of AI will make us lose our potential without realizing we’ve lost it. We’re nowhere near our full potential. If we invest every euro and minute we invest in AI in our minds and consciences, We would be fine, but the system of incentives in our society and economy is taking us in the wrong direction.
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