Artificial Intelligence: Are we engineering our own obsolescence?

Filmed at Shoreditch Town Hall on 11th June 2015

Featuring: Nick Bostrom, Daniel Glaser, Murray Shanahan, Riva-Melissa Tez, Adam Rutherford (chair).

Some of the smartest minds have sounded the alarm recently about artificial intelligence. Physicist Stephen Hawking has said that it could spell the end of the human race. Tech pioneer Elon Musk has warned that with AI ‘we are summoning the demon’. Given that the world is already full of the smart precursors of artificial intelligence – Siri, Google Translate, driverless cars etc, why the warning bells? Because many experts believe that it is only a matter of decades before we create a form of AI that is more than just a useful tool and becomes an autonomous, self-aware entity which could take off on its own, self-replicating and redesigning itself and ultimately wiping out the human race.

Not everyone is so pessimistic, however. Many experts believe that superintelligent machines, far from being a threat, will be our allies. There will be major breakthroughs in science and health, where specialists working alongside computers do better than either a human or a machine on their own. Others, most notably Google futurist Ray Kurzweil, are looking forward to a time when superintelligence will greatly enhance human capacities by means of computer implants that improve the brain and the body. Ultimately we could merge with our superhuman creations, defying ageing and death.


  1. Wray McOuat says:

    The folks in charge of this event need to hold themselves to a much higher
    standard and think harder about how to create the conditions for a better
    dialogue. Really a disaster. Too short, bad questions, some bad guests (not
    Bostrom), not enough time given the number of guests, failure to address
    central question etc. Just learn from this and don’t waste everyone’s time.

    And everyone interested in this subject ought to read Superintelligent,
    it’s incredible.

  2. Kjersleif says:

    I think it’s highly plausible that synthetic life will inevitably replace
    organic life. And that synthetic life is a genuine continuation of “life”
    itself. Humans are the pinnacle of the dreadfully slow organic evolution,
    acting as stepping stones through much more efficient
    “tool-maker”/technological evolution, into an unimaginable paradigm of
    incredibly adaptive, infinitely self-improving machine intelligence.

    One major benefit of life becoming wholly synthetic, is the massive
    increase in tolerable temperatures. Consider the vast differences of
    temperature in the universe.. Organic life can only survive in a
    comparatively microscopic spectrum of temperature, while beings made mostly
    of solid metals and half-metals will be able to survive through much more
    extreme thermal stress, both heat and cold.

    But as Bostrom says, it will all depend on the parameters of the intiating
    super-intelligence. The very first true, post-human AI that will
    immediately start improving itself, will define evolution from there on
    out. The question is, what would its goals be? Would it be able to
    synthesize its own agenda?

  3. neutrinocoffee says:

    The chair hardly gave any time to Nick Bostrom, and he’s probably the most
    influential one of them.

  4. neutrinocoffee says:

    @22:40 “There’s a guy called E.O. Wilson, long dead…”

    E.O. Wilson is still alive! (The chair catches it.)

    “…socio-something or other…”


  5. Tibi S says:

    Artificial Intelligence ,(and they show us four (or five) humans with real
    brains (because they doesn’t know how brains are working ) to find out how
    many brains do you see in function,the hidden intelligence ) they are born
    babies and they know nothing by their own (maybe they learn now from google)
    in one day they wanna chief the human level intelligence,ya
    that make me to think that they have superhumans lvl 3 (much better than
    aliens and angels super soldiers)
    must be womens f..k dogs and horses ,i just doubt about their intelligence
    why they don’t ask the blonde one there she is the one who can think with
    two brains (much better than all the others , pregnant)
    i just found the iq of this group 🌏 📡🌏 👣🕖 💎💀☠☼☾☄ ₪itibira₪

  6. Ali Can Metan says:

    As a 26 year old, I’m truly scared of the future that AIs will bring.
    They are the only entities on Earth that can drive humans to extinction,
    including humans.

  7. SpicyHam says:

    in an way yes, captivity, apprehension, suspsion of pension accounts
    followed by incremental erosions of l!berty, resources, then starvation by

  8. The Face of The Alphabet says:

    19:30 haha, someone called the police on this travesty of a discussion. Or
    maybe the first crime by a robot was committed.

  9. Arnold Van Kampen says:

    it is said that you can fool some people some of the time but you cannot
    fool all people all the time.
    So many signs and so many people being very publicly outspoken, so many
    interests, so much money; humanity is inevitably and undeniably at the dawn
    of a new era.

  10. Arnold Van Kampen says:

    Unless I am lost and rambling inside a subculture the members of which have
    completely lost their marbles, mankind is truely at the brink of a new era.
    It is nothing less than breathtaking, awe inspiring , scaring as hell and
    an incomprehensible prospect.

  11. Justin Manley says:

    The Polgars proved that women can be grand masters. The guy that said men
    are best at chess clearly has played very few games at a chess club. Women
    are a rarity in chess clubs. Its not like many women are low rated players
    and they can’t improve, they are a rarity.

  12. Anon2150 says:

    Sometimes advocates for certain types of technologies tend to make
    outlandish promises. To think that AI will eliminate suffering is absurd.
    Promises of utopia have been promised for other types of technology as
    well, such as nuclear fusion. We should know by now, with the experience
    that history has shown, that utopia is an illusion. Much like nuclear
    technology, AI poses a potential threat. It will depend on how it is used,
    for what purpose, and by whom to have an idea of how well things will go.

  13. aaronsdavis says:

    One of the main advantages the net has over tv is a lack of time
    constraints. Some are yet to grasp this fact I guess.

  14. Stacy Cates says:

    We can’t stop the development of increasingly advanced artificial
    intelligence. Even if we decided to stop our development of it, some people
    on Earth would choose to continue. Therefore, in order to try to remain
    safe and competitive, we must continue to develop it and even try to be on
    the leading edge of it. So, all we can do is try as best as we can to
    develop safeguards against our obsolescence and against harmful uses of AI.
    Although there have always been potential dangers with any new and powerful
    technology, I lean toward thinking there will be an overall good outcome
    for us humans. We may as well be optimistic, as long as at the same time we
    do our best to protect ourselves against less desirable outcomes. Neither
    pessimism nor cessation of development of AI can be helpful to us in this
    situation. … Of course, when AI reaches a certain level – maybe when it
    can make decisions and make changes to the world and itself similar to what
    humans can do – or maybe even before that, it will no longer be artificial.
    It will be real intelligence. Since there are already AI programs that can
    learn on their own and make changes based on what they’ve learned, it can
    be argued that those AI already have real intelligence. They could be
    thought of as a new type of organism.

  15. Krishna Rao says:

    As cool as AI is, the real threat to europe is the civil war that is about
    to happen. Millions of refugees with very different cultural values. What
    do you think is going to happen. CIVIL WAR!!!!!!!!!

  16. c. j. macq says:

    guess what! these fucking pseudo-scientists ARE FUCKING INSANE! they are
    absolutely the biggest threat to human freedom and humanity in HISTORY! who
    gave these fascist assholes the authority to choose the path of the entire
    human race? they sure as fuck don’t represent me!!!! AS TECHNOLOGY GOES

  17. TheAngryCanary says:

    One thing people rarely mention. Even if we don’t build a
    superIntelligence, we will still get all of the technological
    breakthroughs. If computers stopped getting better today, they are still
    good enough for researchers to figure out new medicines, slowing aging,
    better materials. Everything. Creating superintelligence simply speeds the
    process. But it speeds the process to a degree where we will most likely
    lose control.

  18. Kebra des Bois says:

    No matter where he is, Nick Bostrom always looks like he’s completely
    lost… how ironic. ^^

  19. Aron Lynch says:

    You arrogant species, what makes you think AI is for humans. You think you
    take so much and destroy so much and benefit from that. AI isn’t for you,
    you fools. Be careful for what you wish for. The car is driving towards the
    cliff and there isn’t a thing you can do to stop it and good in my opinion,
    squeck tizqiti.

  20. Pascal Daglis says:

    I am no scientist but I cant see how an algorithm will spurn general
    intelligence. Computers have no need to become intelligent ie they dont
    need to learn in order to exist unlike humans who biologically need to
    maintain intelligence to survive, this basic need does not intrinsically
    exist in the dna of a machine .

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