Over a third of people think AI poses a threat to humanity

Gold robotsepSos .de / Flickr, CCCompanies like Google are making robots think for themselves.

Some 36% of people think the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) poses a threat to the long term survival of humanity, according to a YouGov survey for the British Science Association that was reported by Sky News.

Many of those developing AI disagree, saying machines are no where near as intelligent as the media makes them out to be. Machines are still decades away from achieving human levels of intelligence, they say, adding that no one knows if they will turn against us or if they will ever be able to organise themselves into groups and societies like humans do.

The study also found that 60% of people think the use of robots or programmes underpinned by AI will lead to unemployment, yet 49% thought they’d be good at doing household tasks for elderly people.

Elsewhere, 46% of people were opposed to robots being programmed to have a personality, while the study also found that men are more likely to befriend a robot than women.

People aged 18-24 were the most open-minded about robots, with over half of that age group thinks robots would make good servants

Companies like Google and Facebook are investing millions into developing AI systems. Google, for example, bought a London AI startup called DeepMind in 2014 for £400 million, which is able to beat the best humans in the world at Go, the most complex board game in the world.

Billionaire PayPal founder Elon Musk, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, and several others have also warned about the impact super-intelligent machines could have on humanity.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking told the BBC in December 2014.

The University of Cambridge is setting up a new £10 million research centre to analyse the risk that AI poses to humanity. The centre will work in conjunction with the university’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), which is funded by Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn and looks at emerging risks to humanity’s future including climate change, disease, warfare, and AI.

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