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Robots will start replacing human brains by 2045 and artificially intelligent machines may be capable of doing anything that humans can, including standing in line for new Apple products.
Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University, traces the evolution of the idea that artificial intelligence may one day surpass human intelligence, from Turing to Kurzweil, and looks at the current rate of progress.
Early predictions were rubbish and it has taken 15 years to go from Deep Blue beating Kasparov at chess to self-driving cars and Watson beating Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
According to The Atlantic, Vardi thinks it’s reasonable to believe intelligent machines may one day replace human workers almost entirely and put millions out of work permanently, just as the world’s food runs out.
What he is suggesting is an economic singularity, after which the labour market as we know it will cease to exist. Historically the labour market has evolved and adapted. Accelerating technology over the last few centuries has consistently erased some jobs only to replace them with others but the question is if the machines have replaced our brains what is there for us to do?
Vardi thinks that the world in 50 years either will be a utopia or a dystopia. Either we will solve the problem before it happens or things will get very very nasty.
He is not optimistic. If machines can do almost all of our work, then it is not clear that even 15 weekly hours of work will be required. He does not find the prospect of leisure-filled life appealing.
“I believe that work is essential to human well-being and our economic system would have to undergo a radical restructuring to enable billions of people to live lives of leisure,” he said.
The unemployment rate in the US is currently under nine percent and is considered to be a huge problem.
“We cannot blindly pursue the goal of machine intelligence without pondering its consequences,” Vardie added.