A future without us

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Translation by AB – April 15, 2020

There are more and more articles about Artificial Intelligence (AI). This subject, a great provider of amazing (even wacky) titles1, has become “mainstream”, to the point of taking on all aspects of a bubble. The French newspaper Le Figaro thus directs us towards some of these researchers who announce the great replacement of Man by his artificial creature2:

New study shows, job after job, how many years humans have before artificial intelligence can do better than them.

On this subject, let us remember the surprising cry of distress uttered at the beginning of 2015 by Elon Musk (Tesla), Stephen Hawking (physicist) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) about artificial intelligence3. Basically, if we don’t react, we shall be defeated by the machines. And it’s not a bunch of fools that claims this. Let’s react! Let’s create an organization called “Future of Life Institute“, of which Musk and Hawking are members. By the way, Jaan Tallin, a “famous Estonian programmer“, is one of the co-founders of this organization, but not only. He also founded the “Cambridge Center for the Study of Existential Risk”. It also supports the “Future of Humanity Institute”, the “Global Catastrophic Risk institute”, the “Machine Intelligence Research Institute”, etc. The titles speak for themselves.

On the Future of Life Institute website, we find this conviction4:

People now control the planet, not because we’re the strongest, fastest or biggest, but because we’re the smartest.

So, here is the epicenter of reasoning, the syllogism that predicts our future decline: because humans are “smart”5, they control their whole environment (when we see the state of the planet, a doubt seizes us…). Now humans are developing AI that is about to surpass them and therefore… to control the planet. It is obviously doubtful, even if this vision would be relayed by eminent characters. But above all, this syllogism leads to a proposition to which we should be very attentive: “certainly, we are developing dangerous techniques, but you can rest easy because we are so aware of it that we will provide at the same time … the future which is going well and the ethics that goes with it”…

But who wants this “turnkey” future? This future without us?

1. Perrine Signoret in l’Express – June 13, 2017 – Une intelligence artificielle capable de détecter les pensées suicidaires
2. Elisa Braun in Le Figaro – June 13, 2017 – Selon des chercheurs, il ne reste que 45 ans aux humains avant d’être dépassés par les machines
3. Jean-Philippe Louis in Les Echos – January 30, 2015 – Intelligence artificielle : pourquoi Musk, Hawking et Gates s’inquiètent
5. Clémenceau would have at least agreed with them on this point: “The sovereignty of brute force is on the way to disappear and we are moving, not without difficulty, towards the sovereignty of intelligence“.

1 Response

  1. 6 November 2023

    […] Finally, we must remember the stance of Jacques Ellul, whom he himself calls “dialectic”, to understand that he elucidates the concept of Technological System as a sociologist (Marxologist) in order to overhang it as a Christian. Its intimate questioning is of a moral order and, for a man of faith, the moral order cannot come from the system which it is supposed to regulate (we agree – see on this subject A future without us). […]

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