On the site Edge.org  discussed the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) in November, led by Stephen Hawking and philosopher Nick Bostrom has recently warned of what superior and possibly malevolent artificial intelligences could get up to. Only two people were worth reading: Jaron Lanier  , which is critical to AI, and Rodney Brooks  , which is positive. ...
ONE of the anxieties haunting the 21st century is a fear that technological change will soon make many human lives seem essentially superfluous.
It’s a fear as old as the Luddites, but the promise of computing, robotics and biotechnology has given it new life. It suddenly seems plausible that a rich, technologically proficient society will no longer offer meaningful occupation to many people of ordinary talents, even as it offers ever-greater wealth, ever-widening powers and, perhaps, ever-longer life to the elite.
That anxiety dominates the most provocative conversation you can eavesdrop on this week, between the Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman  and the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari  on the website Edge.org .
Harari, the author of a recent history of the human species, “Sapiens,”argues that our own era’s breakthroughs will create new classes and class struggles, just as the Industrial Revolution did.
Soon, if not tomorrow, the rich may be able to re-engineer bodies and minds, making human equality seem like a quaint conceit. Meanwhile, the masses will lose their jobs to machines and find themselves choosing between bread and circuses (or drugs and video games) and the pull of revolutionary violence — with the Islamic State’s appeal to bored youths possibly a foretaste of the future.
Harari’s scenario, as he concedes, is only a projection, and one may doubt that technology can go as far as he imagines. But some of the dislocations he envisions are already here: Work is disappearing for the erstwhile working class, the rich are increasingly self-segregating and marrying among themselves, and virtual realities are replacing older forms of intimacy.
What I find most provoking, though, is Harari’s insistence that in dealing with these problems, “nothing that exists at present offers a solution,” and “old answers” are as “irrelevant” now as they were (allegedly) during the Industrial Revolution.