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May 13, 2015

Our Own Imagination Makes AI Dangerous

Who will get the Ring of Power?
Recently another prominent tech thinker, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak joined Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk in warning of the threats of AI to humanity. One reason why AI seems so innocent to the common person is that since humans have always been able to control our tools, we can't imagine what a smarter-than-human machine would be like. It's not the tool itself that's so dangerous but that combined with our own imagination. It doesn't even make any difference whether or not such an entity is self-conscious (where many get hung up in the argument). All that matters is whether we think it is. In fact, essentially all an AI would need to do to control our lives is grab ahold of our imagination. Once it does–whether or not it intends to– we are sunk.

Consider this scenario: you buy a smart cell phone app to run everything in your house. One day you come home from work as usual; you've programmed your kitchen to make dinner for you and choose a movie you'll like. You're just pulling in but the garage door won't open. You're shocked to discover that you're locked out of your house. No matter what you do there's no way you can get in. In fact the harder you try the more the house intensifies security to keep you out until soon you find yourself running from the police. What may be nothing but a simple mechanical glitch could suddenly turn into something that seems not only evil but targeted specifically against you.

It is very easy for us to project meaning into the world and the more powerful the tools that we create, the more intentionally sinister they will seem when we lose control of them. In the end, our assumption that evil derives from self-consciousness paired with destructive intention only blinds us to the terrible possibilities of unleashing these powerful machines onto the world. That's why some of the best minds in the world are becoming worried. Perhaps they're onto something!
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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.