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Communications of the ACM

Letters to the editor

Toward an Equation that Anticipates AI Risks

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In his "inside risks" Viewpoint "The Real Risks of Artificial Intelligence" (Oct. 2017), David Lorge Parnas wrote that "artificial intelligence" remains undefined while highlighting his concern that AI could yet render humans superfluous and aid authoritarian regimes looking to centralize their hold on political power. He also said AI could yet produce untrustworthy potentially dangerous devices and systems.

Among the very human psychological factors driving human fear are being financially or medically dependent on others, the expectation of physical or mental pain, unintentionally hurting others (such as by causing a car crash), being irresponsible (such as by forgetting an infant left in a car on a hot day), or simply being embarrassed about some inappropriate social behavior. Many of us fear losing our privacy and jobs, thoughtlessly insulting colleagues, being overly controlled by governments and corporations, suffering injustice, or being victimized by violence, especially if avoidable. It is our darkest fears that actually protect us the most. Could AI intensify such fears to levels beyond what we already know?


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