After previously stating that a robotic future powered by artificial intelligence (AI) would be “scary and very bad for people” and that robots would “get rid of the slow humans”, Wozniak has staged a U-turn and says he now thinks robots taking over would be good for the human race.
“They’re going to be smarter than us and if they’re smarter than us then they’ll realise they need us,” Wozniak said at the Freescale technology forum in Austin. “We want to be the family pet and be taken care of all the time.”
“I got this idea a few years ago and so I started feeding my dog filet steak and chicken every night because ‘do unto others’,” he said.
Science fiction has been a surprisingly good predictor of technological development, from Star Trek’s tablet computers to the Demolition Man’s self-driving cars. Whether Terminator’s prediction of an advanced AI wiping out the human race is likely to stay fiction is open for debate.
Some of the most high-profile technology pioneers and the greatest minds of science including Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have warned of the dangers of AI.
Musk invested $10m of his own money into an AI firm so that he could keep an eye on it, describing the technology as “our biggest existential threat”.
Others, including co-founder of Google’s advanced AI company DeepMind Mustafa Suleyman say that the technology is already with us, working on our smartphones and computers and that they are simply “production breakthroughs”.
For Wozniak, it will be “hundreds of years” before AI is capable of taking over, but that by the time it does it will no longer be a threat to our existence: “They’ll be so smart by then that they’ll know they have to keep nature, and humans are part of nature. I got over my fear that we’d be replaced by computers. They’re going to help us. We’re at least the gods originally.”
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Thursday 25th June 2015 13.42 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010