Before Artificial Intelligence develops free will and would even be in a sufficiently advanced position to decide if humans are necessary on this planet, we seem to be doing a pretty good job of destroying ourselves anyway by giving a dangerous amount of power over to semi-intelligent algorithms. Enter the artificially intelligent hedge fund:
But what’s this talk about “destroying ourselves”? Can these things actually kill? Well, let’s look at this way: these algorithms are designed to make profits for their owners by moving investments from one company to the other. In other words, stock market algorithms are playing with the fate of companies in order to make profits for investors. But unlike a human, an algorithm is not programmed for empathy, mercy or intuition. Such algorithms could potentially annihilate a promising company simply because it made some errors in reporting or short-term financial planning.
But this is just the first step. As the AI Stock Market War gears up, the operational and decisional complexity of automated trading will exceed anything humans are even remotely able to keep track of. Before you know it, you got a jungle of super-intelligent AIs desperate to ruin all the others.
Let me repeat: these things aren’t programmed for empathy or mercy (that’s why I’m using the word “things” – it’s something that humans made up and that possesses no free will and no naturally developed instincts). They will eliminate a company that doesn’t perform well with the same precision a doctor cuts out a tumor, except much, much colder and disinterested. And before you say: “well, that’s good isn’t it? Survival of the most profitable”, need I remind you that it’s you and your friends and family who work in these companies?
There might come a day when we won’t be able to plea for our jobs with another human being. Instead, we’ll negotiate with a computer that has just reached the decision that we’re useless to the company (and perhaps society) and our best home is on the street, begging for food (if we’re lucky).
And before you think that “nah, humans will never allow an AI to run their company”, well, think again:
I think Artificial Intelligence can develop into something really wonderful. I also think humans are born wonderful. Unfortunately, the current educational system and the society it created have the ability to create some very twisted individuals. And if such a twisted individual manages to get behind the control panel of a powerful AI, then woe upon the rest of us… because such AI makes nukes look like firecrackers (and I wouldn’t put it past a program to reach the conclusion that managing to somehow launch a cyber-attack or even a physical attack towards another company would be a profitable decision).
Update 2018-10-16: if this topic interests you, make sure you also read “The Danger with Artificial “Intelligence” Is That It’s Not (yet) Intelligent”^.