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Preventing an AI Apocalypse

The view that AI-driven machines will outsmart humanity, take over the world, and kill us all – a staple of dystopian science fiction – is easy enough to dismiss, given that humans remain firmly in control. But many AI experts take the apocalyptic perspective seriously, and they are right to do so.

NEW YORK – Recent advances in artificial intelligence have been nothing short of dramatic. AI is transforming nearly every sector of society, from transportation to medicine to defense. So it is worth considering what will happen when it becomes even more advanced than it already is.

The apocalyptic view is that AI-driven machines will outsmart humanity, take over the world, and kill us all. This scenario crops up often in science fiction, and it is easy enough to dismiss, given that humans remain firmly in control. But many AI experts take the apocalyptic perspective seriously, and they are right to do so. The rest of society should as well.

To understand what is at stake, consider the distinction between “narrow AI” and “artificial general intelligence” (AGI). Narrow AI can operate only in one or a few domains at a time, so while it may outperform humans in select tasks, it remains under human control.

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