Scientists rank the 10 most overhyped AI nightmare scenarios

Jan. 20, 2016
ITIF names ten artificial intelligence alarmists worthy of the Luddite Award for categorizing AI as humanity's inevitable doom

Should we fear artificial intelligence (AI)? Will robots and smart devices join arms in the future and make humankind obsolete — worse yet, extinct? Only the future will tell, but one thing we have to remember is that we humans are the ones envisioning, designing, creating and bringing AI to life. Humans too (at least some of us) are the ones instilling fear in one another as to why our own creations will one day take over the world.

Also read: Is artificial intelligence dangerous?

In December 2015, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) nominated a coalition of scientists and luminaries to be the recipients of their annual Luddite Award. The honor was given to those who stirred fear and hysteria by raising alarms that AI could cause humanity's end.

ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson said it is "deeply unfortunate that luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have contributed to feverish hand-wringing about a looming artificial intelligence apocalypse." The organization does not personally consider these two visionaries Luddites, but as pioneers of science and technology "they and others have done a disservice to the public by demonizing AI in the popular imagination."

After announcing the nominees, ITIF invited the general public to vote and decide who should receive the ITIF Luddite Award.

Here are the ten nominees for 2015, in no particular order:

  1. States limiting automatic license plate readers.
  2. California's governor vetoing RFID in driver’s licenses.
  3. Ohio and other states and localities banning red light cameras.
  4. Advocates seeking a ban on "killer robots."
  5. Wyoming outlawing citizen science.
  6. Alarmists touting an artificial intelligence apocalypse.
  7. The paper industry opposing e-labeling.
  8. The Federal Communications Commission limiting broadband innovation.
  9. The Center for Food Safety fighting genetically improved food.
  10. Europe, China, and others choosing taxi drivers over car-sharing passengers.

With 27 percent of the vote, alarmists touting an AI apocalypse came in first.

Also read: Artificial intelligence in process automation

It is important to remember that even though there are luminaries voicing their concerns about AI, this technology also has plenty of benefits for humankind. Among those benefits are increasing productivity, jobs creation and increasing work wages.

Learn more about ITIF’s Annual Luddite Award and their nominees by reading the full report here.

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