Transcendence is the latest film about artificial intelligence acting against the interests of its creators, the human species. Now Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist, says it’s already time to get serious about science fiction made real. Also, Putin celebrates Victory Day in Crimea while fighting continues, and a crisis of confidence in America's leadership class.
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Deadly fighting continued today in Eastern Ukraine, but in the Crimean port of Sebastopol on the Black Sea, tens of thousands turned out to see Russian President Vladimir Putin preside over a triumphant spectacle of warships and fighter jets. This is Victory Day, in which Russia celebrates the defeat of Adolph Hitler in World War II. Mark Rachkevych is editor of the Kyiv Post.
Artificial intelligence might be the death of humanity. That’s from no less an authority than Stephen Hawking, the world’s best-known physicist. Other scientists are heeding his warning that programs could outsmart their programmers with unintended consequences that can’t be predicted. Massive investment by Google, Facebook and others, they say, is making that much more likely to happen, much sooner, than anybody expected. How do Americans feel about science fiction made real? Will developers agree not to go too far before it’s too late?
Since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, out-of-control technology has been a staple of science fiction. Remember when the computer Hal refused to let the astronaut Dave back into the spaceship that was orbiting Jupiter? The current film, Transcendence, has updated that terrifying scenario, and it might become real much sooner than ever expected. That’s according to Hawking, who’s warning against what he calls “potentially our worst mistake in history.” From a man with advanced ALS, who depends on robotics to live, that has the rest of the scientific community paying attention.
The latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll is out today, and it shows it’s not just the Tea Party; Americans across the board are having a crisis of confidence with national leadership in politics, government and business. But disillusionment with those at the top is also fueling a more positive dynamic at the local level. Can problems be solved from the bottom up rather than from the top down? Are states and localities likely to reach consensus on solving the nation’s problems? Ron Brownstein is editorial director of the National Journal.