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Opinion: Artificial Intelligence, part VI — facing a fearsome future

Alan Turing, the Father of Modern Computer Science who broke the encryption of the German Enigma coding machine during World War II, said that “it may have been historical accident that the first brain was meat instead of metal.” We may now be at a “Turing Moment” in history, a time when computer systems can do everything that a human being can do. Unless we’ve already passed that point and have failed to realize it.


There is a core of scientists who foretell of a utopian future in which AI solves many of the problems currently facing humankind. There is much to support their optimism. After all, AI can access and analyze the information from millions of databases in minutes, rather than years. This gives AI the power to solve complex problems. For example, a computer at M.I.T. surveyed vast amounts of patient data and was able to detect breast cancer four years before it developed.

AI can probably figure out a way to stabilize the economy so that there is steady, manageable growth. It can help to understand and manage climate change. It can probably show us how to maximize crop yields and conserve agricultural water. People who must engage in dangerous activity, like fighting fires, handling hazardous materials, and deactivating bombs can likely benefit from remote guidance by AI systems.


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