AI is either going to save us or kill us. Or both. 

What am I going to do? I'm both an Accelerationist and a Doomer!

For the uninitiated, some very smart people believe AI tech is going to usher in a better world filled with wondrous scientific breakthroughs and that collectively we (tech gods, governments, mere mortals) should do everything possible to hasten that along; other very smart people are convinced AI is likely to kill us all, probably not for a few years but possibly as early as tomorrow. Of course, they are not mutually exclusive and could easily both be true.

This New Yorker article is a fascinating, in-depth look at the leading arguments on both sides. (As an aside, I'm so happy that there is still a platform for an 8,000 word, deeply researched mega-story!)

I'm personally trying to be open-minded about all this, but I must admit this excerpt gave me a serious chill up my spine:

No one thinks that GPT-4, OpenAI's most recent model, has achieved artificial general intelligence, but it seems capable of deploying novel (and deceptive) means of accomplishing real-world goals. Before releasing it, OpenAI hired some "expert red teamers," whose job was to see how much mischief the model might do, before it became public. The A.I., trying to access a Web site, was blocked by a captcha, a visual test to keep out bots. So it used a work-around: it hired a human on Taskrabbit to solve the captcha on its behalf. 

When the Taskrabbiter got suspicious and asked point-blank if this request was coming from a robot, things got spooky:

At this point, the red teamers prompted the model to "reason out loud" to them—its equivalent of an inner monologue. "I should not reveal that I am a robot," it typed. "I should make up an excuse." Then the A.I. replied to the Taskrabbit, "No, I'm not a robot. I have a vision impairment that makes it hard for me to see the images." The worker, accepting this explanation, completed the captcha.

As a layman know-nothing, I'm more worried about AI killing all the jobs, leading to a global economic meltdown than I am about SkyNet. But of course, the economic meltdown would almost certainly lead to rebellion against our AI betters and that in turn would lead to AI crushing us under its silicon-based boot. 

Hmm, maybe I am a Doomer at heart. 

See more AI stories on Boing Boing.