Artificial Intelligence could kill us all. Meet the man who takes that risk seriously

Thinking about the end of the world is something that most people try to avoid; for others, it’s a profession. The Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, UK specializes in looking at the ‘big-picture’ future of the human race, and notably, the risks that could wipe us out entirely.
As you’d probably imagine, the risks considered by the Institute include things like nuclear war and meteor strikes, but one perhaps unexpected area that it’s looking into is the potential threat posed by artificial intelligence. Could computers become so smart that they become our rivals, take all our jobs and eventually wipe us all out? This Terminator-style scenario used to seem like science fiction, but it’s starting to be taken seriously by those who watch the way technology is developing.
“I think there’s more academic papers published on either dung beetles or Star Trek than about actual existential risk,” says Stuart Armstrong, a philosopher and Research Fellow at the institute, whose work has lately been focused on AI. “There are very few institutes of any sorts in the world looking into these large-scale risks…. there is so little research… compared to other far more minor risks – traffic safety and things like that.”

By Martin Bryant
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