Following is the full text of US defense expert Jay Tuck’s talk titled “Artificial Intelligence: It Will Kill Us” at TEDxHamburgSalon conference.
The subject of my talk tonight is about something that is smarter than you are: artificial intelligence.
In fact, a lot of people who work in artificial intelligence believe that artificial intelligence is a thousand times smarter than we are. It will be moving at speeds that are a hundred thousand times as fast as we think, and it will be digesting information and data a million times more than we can.
WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?
There’re a lot of confused ideas about this outside in the world, but the answer is very simple; it’s one sentence: artificial intelligence is software that writes itself. It writes its own updates. It renews itself.
We normally tend to think of software as stuff that we created and that we wrote, and the machines do what we tell them to do, and we own it. This is not any longer true.
It writes itself at speeds that we can hardly comprehend, and people who write it know that you can’t take it apart again and figure out what it has done.
It writes independently, autonomously; it develops its own way of thinking, and there are dangers associated with that.
A lot of people ask, “When is it going to happen? When is artificial intelligence going to be smarter than us people?”
Some people say 50 years. Some say 30 years. Some say five years. I say it already has surpassed us in many areas of our society.
Let’s take some examples from right here and now. The examples that we’re going to talk about are not science fiction; they’re not visions or things that are going to happen at some point. They’re things that exist today, for example in the stock markets, whether Frankfurt or Tokyo or New York or London.
The people you see down there working, on your TV show when you’re watching, they’re more or less extras in a movie. They aren’t doing the big moving.
The big moving is being done by high-frequency computers. They move so fast, they make, in milliseconds, billion-dollar business.
Computers have far succeeded what we can do. In fact, I did a film once about a company that moved five blocks closer to the Frankfurt stock market because at the speed of light on glass cable, they saved so much time, getting closer to the computers at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
That will give you an idea of how fast they think and how helpless we, as human beings, are. You may remember the old pictures of the stock brokers with five telephones in each hand, running back and forth, writing things, that was way before yesterday.
Computers have taken over this very, very important part of our society, a heart of our financial community. And no one understands exactly how these algorithms function. They used to understand them, but they’ve been improved by artificial intelligence.
I don’t know how many people flew in today, but if you were sitting in an airplane, you probably had 30 different tariffs and prices in your cabin because the pricing is all done – the same is true of hotels – by machines that are collecting global information, making decisions within split seconds what the price of that airplane seat or that hotel room is going to be.
And where it’s most critical of all – we’re talking about life and death – is in medicine. Computers are better than we are, as human beings, in several areas already today. We’re talking about here and now; this is not science fiction.
I’m speaking next week at the Universitätsklinikum in Essen, and their radiologists, who are supposed to be some of the best radiologists in Germany, they say that a computer can recognize a tumor on an MRT or a CT, faster and better and more precisely than a human being can. It’s picture analysis, and it’s done very well by computers, especially in medicine where it saves lives.
Now, the robots are getting better and better; they’re looking cute. They have these big baby eyes, a sweet way of looking at you. They can examine your facial expression and adjust their’s.
But don’t be fooled by robots even when they get warm skin, perfume, and they start smelling like us and getting really interesting. They are still machines. They have no warm blood in them. There’s no sex in them. They have no mortality. They’re cold code lines, and they shouldn’t be misunderstood.
Now, I want you to understand what the power of artificial intelligence is, and I have two examples: one is surveillance cameras. Everybody knows that we’re being watched by cameras everywhere, and most people think surveillance is a camera there, and it’s me down here, and it’s watching me: one person, one camera.
Well, that’s because we’re stupid. That’s the way we comprehend the surveillance: one camera, one person. We can’t comprehend it when it goes beyond that.
(Video clip) Narrator: This image was taken 17,500 feet above Quantico, Virginia, and covers 15 square miles.
Yiannis Antoniades: This whole image is at a very, very fine resolution. So if we wanted to know what’s going on in any spot along this image, let’s say near this building at this intersection, everything that is a moving object is being automatically tracked. The color boxes represent that the computer has recognized the moving objects. You can see individuals crossing the street. You can see individuals walking in parking lots. There’s actually enough resolution to be able to see the people waving their arms or walking around and what kind of clothes they wear.
Narrator: Unlike the predator camera that limits field of view, ARGUS-IS melts together videos from each of its 368 chips to create a 1.8 billion pixel video stream. This makes it possible to zoom in and still see tremendous detail. (Video concludes)
And it produces a million terabytes every day. That’s a lot of data. I’m telling you this because – not that the sensors are modern and not that the photography is modern – behind that is a brain, or a cognitive intelligence, and that brain is in a position to analyze everybody down there.
At the same time, in real time, they see where everyone is going. We can understand that when we reduce it to a single person, but we can’t understand it when you’re talking about a hundred thousand people in a city, plus the vehicles which are all recognized.
Due to such systems, they have also redone facial recognition. You probably think facial recognition is from the front, but they’ve redone it to do it from the top because that’s where the drones are. They look at your ears, the way you walk, your head – that’s modern facial recognition.
So, that’s one idea: as a human being, we think of one camera and one person.
This is a little of their things: It’s taking all the details, all the musing after, and then record it, so they can tell where that person was two weeks ago, two months ago, what stores he visited, what his whole behavioral patterns are. That’s all part of the analysis of Argus. These are called “tennis balls” in military and intelligence circles. It’s a new secretive sensoric thing.
Cruise missile would fly into a valley in Afghanistan – this is especially important because the troops have left many of these areas – and would drop literally thousands of these sensor packages or tennis balls – they’re all packed in foam rubber. They record with cameras. They record with microphones. They record with seismic measurements.
They record with Geiger counters. They record with chemical sensors, they can look for chemical things. That’s not the amazing part of it, and it’s not the amazing part that their signal goes to a transmitter and then up to the satellite: old technology, nothing special.
The special part of it is, behind that system, there’s a fusion software that can combine the audio and the visual and the seismic and the chemical, all of these signals, and make sense of them, and analyze on the ground what kind of troop movements there are, the kinds of vehicles they’re using, what are they transporting, and if there’s radioactivity in that.
It takes all these different pieces of information and turns it through fusion software into an understandable picture which goes way beyond, way beyond our vision.
Artificial intelligence only works if you have huge data masses. Artificial intelligence only works if you have big data, but big data only works if you have artificial intelligence to make sense of it because human beings can no longer sort and sift and order the huge volumes of data that we have collected.
And thus it is not surprising that the company that has the most information in the world – it’s probably the most powerful company in the world – Google, is very interested in artificial intelligence and has been traveling around the world as a shopping queen, buying all the companies that are dealing with robotics – this is one of their robots called Atlas. They’re buying our artificial intelligence, all the artificial intelligence companies from around the world.
Now, if you ask Google, it’s a peaceful robot, right? He doesn’t have a gun; he doesn’t throw atomic bombs. He just walks around and stands there.
But you may have seen the superimposes of DARPA – Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. That is the research arm of the Pentagon. Then, you see the video is made by Lockheed Martin, which is one of the most powerful and influential and richest weapons companies in the world.
So why is the Pentagon investing this money? Why has Lockheed Martin taken over large aspects of the company? This guy is called “Big Dog.” He also belongs to Google, also DARPA financed. Peaceful dog, right? Unless he gets caught on a maneuver with the United States Marines, as part of a military unit.
So, these are not flower children. These are robots that have a function. And robots that have a function and an intelligence, and perhaps an intelligence that goes beyond us, are dangerous things.
Now that’s a Predator drone; this was taken at a secret United States Air Force base in New Mexico. Predator drones, you’ve seen them, right? On TV, in the newspapers — They’re old! They’re 20-years-old technology.
It looks very scary when the Spiegel and the ARD write about modern technology and the guys with a joystick that are killing people and Taliban in Afghanistan far away, but that’s what a modern drone looks like. This is not a Predator; it’s a Pegasus, an X-47B owned by the Navy. It’s a jet-powered machine not like a propeller-driven Predator. It goes 2,000 miles into enemy territory. It carries 2,000 kilos worth of explosives, and it’s run by artificial intelligence.
It starts alone, flies its mission alone, comes back alone, and here’s the clue, it lands all by itself on an aircraft carrier. Talk to any pilot you’ve ever met: what’s the most difficult landing area you can possibly imagine? They’d say it’s an aircraft carrier – short runway, thing’s moving – very hard.
This thinking drone can do it, but here are the two keys to Pegasus. Pegasus is invisible. I’m not talking about stealth and being invisible to radar. I’m talking about invisible to the human eye, and you won’t find this in any newspaper anywhere. It’s invisible to the human eye because the bottom has an LED layer on it, and the top has cameras, which have been removed here in the picture, which film the sky, and they project on the bottom a live picture of clouds up above the aircraft, and you can hardly see it.
They’re responsible for a lot of these UFO sightings in Nevada, near the testing areas. Jet engine propulsion, a reach of 2,000 miles, start and landing all by itself, stealth is optical stealth – you can’t see it – and the kill decision, which is required by United States law to be made by human beings – human beings must be in the loop before someone is killed by a drone – is in the machine, and it doesn’t need people.
It can decide by itself whether or not it kills somebody. The experts say it’s going to make less mistakes and less collateral damage than the human decisions. The kill decision in robots in the air, in robots on the ground, in robots in the water or underwater, where there are also drones, is made by or can be made by machines.
In my book, I quote many official United States government documents which say, “Our goal is to have the kill decision made by them.” The problem is, artificial intelligence sometimes makes mistakes.
This is Talon, an automatic cannon. You can put a lot of ammunition in that thing, and you can also put rockets on it. It’s in Iraq since 2007. At a demonstration with US generals and experts, the damn thing got out of control and started pointing at the audience. There was a marine there, thank goodness, running across the field, who tackled it like a football player and threw it on its side, and probably prevented a couple hundred people from being killed.
This was not a reason enough to take a lucrative contract away from the company that built it, and it wasn’t enough to take the Talon out of Iraq. It’s just sort of off-duty for a moment because, you know, there were some “early stages of development,” that kind of problem.
But don’t underestimate artificial intelligence, because it’s getting better every day, and it’s going to scare us. I’m right at the right time, why is it saying “stop”?
Because this has all been here-and-now technology, let’s go to the future, not far, just a little bit to the Internet of things, to artificial intelligence as being spread out. It’s not a central machine in a box where you can pull the plug.
Artificial intelligence is networked, like the Internet of things, and part of it may be in a smart watch or a refrigerator or in a supercomputer. The intelligence exists only by networking it together. If the supercomputer needs more computer power, it goes there and gets it out of the Internet.
If the computer needs better programs, it goes there and gets those programs. And if it needs more information, more data, it goes there and gets more data. It sets up a spontaneous network for its needs, which collapses when it no longer needs it. It does this without us.
You have to imagine there are these intelligence nodes all over the place, and they’re like drops of mercury on a glass table. They will find their way to each other. They will find their way together.
Now, we have to be very careful because survival is an issue for artificial intelligence. It needs to exist to be able to do the things it wants to do according to its program. So it lays, like insect eggs, backups in computer programs all over the world, thousands and thousands of them, so that if we do destroy part of it, it’s still alive.
My job to you is the wake-up call to make you aware of the problem. Your job is to figure out how we’re going to stop this before it kills us.
Resources for Further Reading:
- The Battle for Your Time: Exposing the Costs of Social Media: Dino Ambrosi (Transcript)
- TRANSCRIPT: The Powerful Possibilities of Recycling the World’s Batteries: Emma Nehrenheim
- The Exciting, Perilous Journey Toward AGI: Ilya Sutskever (Transcript)
- Why AI Is Incredibly Smart and Shockingly Stupid: Yejin Choi (Transcript)
- The Truth About Mobile Phone And Wireless Radiation: Dr Devra Davis (Transcript)