In this interview with Bryan Walsh, British cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees expresses his concern for the future of mankind. According to him, new technologies such as AI, biotech, and cybertech have the potential to make a good life for the 9 billion people in this planet.
The fact that poverty, hunger, and war still exist is a testament of our society’s lack of desire to make life better for others. He stresses that political constraints plaguing our institutions will make life very difficult in the next few years.
Implications for AI
In this article, Martin Rees says that the increasing gap between the rich and poor means that the application of new technologies will be just as unequitable. With our current behaviors, and the institutions that support such unjust behaviors, it is possible that new technologies will benefit only the few and discriminate the many [read Transhumanism: Immortality for those who can afford it and Joseph Stiglitz: AI can lead to a more divided society to understand better]. It could make life so much harder for the poor and marginalized.
In this case, AI’s promise of prosperity cannot be expected if there are no changes in our political and cultural conditions, because as Albert Einstein once said, “Problems cannot be solved by the level of awareness that created them“. As a society, we must be willing to go beyond our comfort zones and embrace change in all its aspects.