Yes, robots are going to take our jobs -- but this expert thinks the AI age means a better life for people

A humanoid robot at the 2017 Event Planner Expo at Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. Photo: Getty Images.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a daunting subject.

For most people, it’s hard to comprehend the scope of its application and therefore it can be difficult to grasp how such technology will exist in daily life.

This lack of understanding manifests itself into a fear that AI has the potential, in the future, to replace humans.

But according to Dr Ben Goertzel, founder and CEO of SingularityNET, a blockchain-based AI marketplace, this is the biggest mistake that people make when considering the future of AI.

As well as starting SingularityNET, Goertzel is also the chief scientist of financial prediction firm Aidyia Holdings and robotics firm Hanson Robotics, the chairman of a number of AI companies and foundations, a research professor in the Fujian Key Lab for Brain-Like Intelligent Systems at Xiamen University, China, and author of multiple scientific books, over a hundred technical papers, and numerous journalistic articles in the field of artificial intelligence.

He knows what he’s talking about.

“People anthropomorphise AI more than they need to,” Goertzel told Business Insider while in Sydney with “Sophia”, the world’s most advanced humanoid robot.

Sophia the robot. Photo: Hanson Robotics/ YouTube

“Human beings evolved for surviving, and trying to find mates, and trying to find food, and trying to defeat the other tribe, and cooperating with their family, and this evolutionary heritage gave us a certain motivational system, certain strengths, and certain limitations.

“I think if it is scary or worrisome, it’s for a quite different reason than most people think, because people tend to think that we’re going to build killer robots who want to enslave people or something. But there’s essentially no chance of that, because the motivation to enslave or torment people, that’s a human emotion problem. There’s no reason that an AI is going to have that.

“The real worry that I have is more people using early-stage AIs for bad ends, rather than the AI itself is having a bad motivation, which I see no reason why it would have.”

AI robots will take over all human jobs in the next few decades

But that doesn’t mean AI robots aren’t after your jobs, because they are.

“That will happen,” says Goertzel. “In my personal view, within the next few decades, all human jobs will be automated.

“I think that’s good. I think working for a living is not the most interesting thing to do. People can devote themselves to hang out with their friends, and creating artworks, and relaxing, meditate, hike in the mountains, play the piano. There’s a lot of things to do besides carry out repetitive tasks in order to accumulate enough resources to get through your days.

“I think people are addicted to work as a way of defining their own status, and importance, and self-worth, but people will get over that pretty quickly once the alternative is there.

“I think once you just have robot machines that will 3D print any physical object you want, then suddenly, having to work to get some physical object is going to seem ridiculous.

Musicians of The Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra are conducted by robot ‘Yumi’ at The Teatro Verdi in Pisa. Photo: Miguel Medina/ AFP/ Getty Images.

“The transition will be the hard part, though. In principle, humanity should be devoting more resources to creating abundance and then distributing it in a fairly equitable way to everyone. In practise, that’s probably not how it’s going to happen. There’s going to be a lot of chaos and confusion.

“How the transition comes out, in terms of distributing the benefit of advanced technology to everyone in the world, it’s not obvious how that will unfold.

“Now, there’s a lot of ways advanced technology can help the developing world that are not acted on because they’re not within the business model of the large corporations who own most of the AIs.

“That’s part of the motivation behind making something like SingularityNET, which is a distributed, open platform where developers can come together to share and learn from each other’s projects, as well as sell and trade their assets.”

And according to Goertzel, not even his job is safe.

“Eventually, AIs will learn to programme the AIs,” he says.

“I’ll need to upload my brain into the AI and join the party.”

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