Why We Fear AI

Watched a film last night about AI, called ‘Upgrade.’  It was intense, lots of gory fistfights, a few shootings, a couple of exciting car chase type scenes involving driverless cars, and some interesting conversations about the  ethics of machines  taking over human  bodies.
Like so many of these movies, it’s basically ‘Invasion of the Body  Snatchers ‘ or ‘Rhinoceros’ (a Gene Wilder classic).  I’m  not too worried about AI, I think machines can develop a very high degree of intelligence, and will  be able to mimic human reactions quite accurately, before they  ever get infected with that itch, that nasty thing that people get, where they want to kill everybody and take over the world, but I have to say that with  a couple  of caveats.  One, that if I’m wrong and they DO develop that craving, we’re fucked.  Once they become better than us, they will become better and better than us and there is no way we’ll  be able to compete.  Second, there are a whole lot of people out there, smarter and more knowledgeable about AI then I am, who ARE worried about it.
Here’s the thought that struck me today.  We’ve all noticed that Republican voters tend to fear intelligent and educated people.  It’s a strong American trait.  To some extent, it might be true everywhere, but I’ve never seen it  as strong as I’ve seen it in  the U.S.  I noticed it clear back in  the 3rd  grade.  And you have to try and understand them.  When you’re struggling in school, when you see other people for whom it’s easy, it must be galling.  Resentment leads to reaction and, knowing they’ll  never get to be any smarter, they want terribly to bring smart people down.  Well, now smart people get to feel that sense of inadequacy, that sense of fear,  that there’s  going to be others smarter than us.  The fact that they aren’t even  human is small consolation.

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