I'm not easily alarmed. Nuclear war, climate meltdown, economic collapse, zombie apocalypse -- nothing really fazes me. I just assume that worst-case scenarios pretty much never happen, so everything will work out in the long run.
Maybe that isn't rational. Throughout all of human history, things often didn't work out. There were countless wars. Infectious disease claimed the lives of hundreds of millions. To this very day, war and starvation kill people in poor parts of the world. Perhaps the political and economic stability of the developed world is just an illusion; in reality, the world is teetering on the brink of chaos, and my blind optimism is based on naïveté and complacency.
Sure, that's possible. A complete societal breakdown is not out of the question. But what, in my opinion, really is out of the question? Runaway, out-of-control artificial intelligence. A robot apocalypse isn't going to happen. Why?
On the evening of September 20, I get a sweet note from Mark Zuckerberg. It read:
Huh. Happy New Year? It was the middle of September. It then dawned on me that it was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. So, Mark Zuckerberg thinks I'm Jewish, despite the fact that my profile page specifically says "Protestant." Whatever algorithm Facebook uses apparently didn't take that into consideration. Oops.
(To make matters worse, a friend of mine who actually is Jewish didn't receive a New Year's wish from Facebook.)
Obviously, Big Data and AI are still very young and, hence, not very good. We can expect huge changes in both as technology advances. But no matter how good technology gets, robots and the AI that drives them will only ever be as good as the humans that program them. That's why I don't fear AI.
Even if AI gets so good that it can write its own code, I'm still not worried. Consider the Herculean efforts that the U.S. government and banks undergo to protect confidential information. Despite those efforts, they get hacked anyway.
So, if in the future, we are faced with self-coding robots bent on world domination, I am very confident that a more clever human will be able to hack them.