Living with AI

18 years ago I was starting a Computer Science course at the University of Sussex… it doesn’t feel that long ago, but things have changed so much. We were getting excited about ubiquitous computing and wearable tech back then, which is now just normal life.

I recently listened to the 2021 Reith Lectures with Stuart Russell. Over four lectures Russell addresses the topic of “Living with Artificial Intelligence” – specifically, the challenges and opportunities of General Purpose AI.

What struck me most is the potential of AI to radically transform any and every area of life. If this is possible, then AI is no longer simply the domain of coders and mathmos, but will need diverse, multidisciplinary skills to shape it for good. An essential field, perhaps overlooked in the excitement of innovation, one which has been part of my work and study over the last decade is ethics, so I was pleased that this was a key discussion point for Russell.

But I wonder, like Russell, if we are in danger of too quickly leaping to the (very real and rewarding) opportunities of AI, before we build an ethical framework to mould and goven it. Killer robots and built-in bias aside, I’m more concerned AI will make us lazy and the impact that will have on how we view work and creativity!

I’d love to think some more about AI ethics… who should I be reading / following to deepen my understanding? Grateful for your thoughts and recommendations…

Stuart Russell

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