Earthlings should be wary of artificial intelligence, biometrics, quantum computing, synthetic biology, and surveillance. These technologies are on the list of those that scientists consider the most dangerous for the development of world civilization. How these developments can affect humanity in the coming decades – in the material of “Gazeta.Ru”.
The Gizmodo publication interviewed scientists, asking them one question – what new technology can soon worsen the lives of millions of people, and in the long term – destroy human civilization. Each of the experts gave his answer, arguing the fears and describing the consequences.
Michael Littman, a professor of computer science at Brown University, said that he was seriously afraid of the development of artificial intelligence (AI).
“A group of 17 experts expressed the opinion that as AI systems become more useful in real cases, their scope is expanding. This leads to increased risks of misuse, overuse and outright abuse,” the scientist warned.
Because of this, systems are perceived as objective and useful, although they can be applied inappropriately and be built on the results of biased data or even blatant discrimination,” Littman said.
Without transparency in the construction of AI data and algorithms, he says, people will remain in the dark about how decisions are made that affect their lives.
For example, AI algorithms play a role in decisions about the allocation of organ donations, vaccines and other health care items — these approaches have literally life and death stakes, the professor warned. He concluded that one should not exclude people’s opinions from the AI-based decision chain, so as not to harm humanity.
Professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, David Shumway Jones, is inclined to believe that most of all people should be afraid of biometrics, and in particular facial recognition technology.
Even if no one abuses this information, the loss of confidentiality and anonymity seems significant enough to me, ”the specialist noted.
According to him, the range of stakeholders is wide – from stalkers and former partners to authoritarian governments. With the development of technology, they will even have the ability to predict what people will do next: where to go, what to buy and who to see, the professor stated.
Amy Webb, the CEO of the Future Today Institute, an event and trend forecasting company, is most afraid of new technologies in the field of synthetic biology.
The specialist assured that a number of new biological technologies and methods will allow not only reading and editing the DNA code, but also writing it, that is, programming living biological structures as if they were tiny computers.
Over time, she says, people will have programs that are designed like a Word text editor, but for DNA code with the same simple editing. DNA molecules will be printed from scratch using an analog of a 3D printer, Webb explained.
We will need to challenge our way of thinking, ask tough questions and have rational discussions about the origin of life, otherwise we will miss opportunities and only increase risks, ”the head of the company considered.
Among other things, it will have to be determined whether new viruses should be programmed to fight diseases, new requirements for genetic confidentiality should be formed, and who should “own” living organisms. According to her, the main danger comes from the fact that such decisions will radically affect the fate of millions of people.
Constant surveillance at work
Zephyr Teachout, a professor of law at Fordham University, is confident that constant and more advanced monitoring of employees in the workplace and remotely is extremely dangerous and will ruin the lives of millions over time.
“It will upend the already unequal relationship between employer and employee, allowing employers to treat workers like guinea pigs. These volumes of information about actions create unhealthy motivation and eventually lead to the goal of getting more work done for less pay,” she added.
The specialist noted that some employers are interested in technology in the field of gambling – to be able to earn as much as possible on the weaknesses of people. And if in a casino we are talking about players, but for companies it will be their own employees.
Ryan Kahlo, a law professor and co-founder of the faculty at the Tech Policy Lab and the Center for Informed Public Affairs at the University of Washington, said that quantum computing is what worries him the most.
According to him, breaking the corresponding encryption systems is just the tip of the iceberg. Kahlo is confident that the other dangers of quantum computing are not new, but the updated capacities will give the old threats new, never-before-seen strength.
The scientist concluded that quantum computing will accelerate the loss of privacy and autonomy of each person, and this will be incomparable to what current supercomputers are capable of.