Do you fear Artificial Intelligence?

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Do you fear Artificial Intelligence?

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Will thinking computers be the end of humans? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.

  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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Rob Hello, I’m Rob. Welcome to 6 Minute English and with me in the studio is Neil.

Neil Hello, Rob.

Rob Hello. Feeling bright today, Neil?

Neil I am feeling quite bright and clever, yes!

Rob That’s good to hear. Well, you ‘ll need all your wits about you - meaning you’ll need to think very quickly in this programme because we’re talking about intelligence, or to be more accurate, Artificial Intelligence. And we’ll learn some vocabulary related to the topic so that you can have your own discussion about it. Now, Neil, you know who Professor Stephen Hawking is, right?

Neil Well, of course! Yes. Many people say that he’s a genius - in other words, he is very, very intelligent. Professor Hawking is one of the most famous scientists in the world and people remember him for his brilliance and also because he communicates using a synthetic voice generated by a computer - synthetic means it’s made from something non-natural. Artificial is similar in meaning - we use it when something is man-made to look or behave like something natural.

Rob Well, Professor Hawking has said recently that efforts to create thinking machines are a threat to our existence. A threat means something which can put us in danger. Now, can you imagine that, Neil?!

Neil Well, there’s no denying that good things can come from the creation of Artificial Intelligence. Computers which can think for themselves might be able to find solutions to problems we haven’t been able to solve. But technology is developing quickly and maybe we should consider the consequences. Some of these very clever robots are already surpassing us, Rob. To surpass means to have abilities superior to our own.

Rob Yes. Maybe you can remember the headlines when a supercomputer defeated the World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, to everybody’s astonishment. It was in 1997. What was the computer called, Neil? Was it:

a) Red Menace

b) Deep Blue

c) Silver Surfer

Neil I don’t know. I think (c) is probably not right. I think Deep Blue. That’s (b) Deep Blue.

Rob Okay. You’ll know if you got it right at the end of the programme. Well, our theme is Artificial Intelligence and when we talk about this we have to mention the movies.

Neil Many science fiction movies have explored the idea of bad computers who want to harm us. One example is 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Rob Yes, a good film. And another is The Terminator, a movie in which actor Arnold Schwarzenegger played an android from the future. An android is a robot that looks like a human. Have you watched that one, Neil?

Neil Yes, I have. And the android is not very friendly.

Rob No, it’s not. In many movies and books about robots that think, the robots end up rebelling against their creators. But some experts say the risk posed by Artificial Intelligence is not that computers attack us because they hate us. Their problem is related to their efficiency.

Neil What do you mean?

Rob Well, let’s listen to what philosopher Nick Bostrom has to say. He is the founder of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. He uses three words when describing what’s inside the mind of a thinking computer. This phrase means ‘to meet their objectives’. What’s the phrase he uses?

Nick Bostrom, philosopher, Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University The bulk of the risk is not in machines being evil or hating humans but rather that they are indifferent to humans and that in pursuit of their own goals we humans would suffer as a side effect. Suppose you had a super intelligent AI whose only goal was to make as many paperclips as possible. Human bodies consist of atoms and those atoms could be used to make a lot of really nice paperclips. If you want paperclips it turns out that in the pursuit of this you would have instrumental reasons to do things that would be horrible to humanity.

Neil A world in which humans become paperclips - wow, that’s scary! But the phrase which means ‘meet their objectives’ is to ‘pursue their goals’.

Rob Yes, it is. So the academic explains that if you’re a computer responsible for producing paperclips, you will pursue your objective at any cost…

Neil … and even use atoms from human bodies to turn them into paperclips! Now that’s a horror story, Rob. If Stephen Hawking is worried, I think I might be too. How can we be sure that Artificial Intelligence - be it either a device or software - will have a moral compass?

Rob Ah, a good expression - a moral compass - in other words, an understanding of what is right and what is wrong.

Neil Artificial Intelligence is an interesting topic, Rob. I hope we can chat about it again in the future. But now I’m looking at the clock and we are running out of time, I’m afraid, and I’d like to know if I got the answer to the quiz question right?

Rob Well, my question was about a supercomputer which defeated the World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov in 1997. What was the machine’s name? Was it: Red Menace, Deep Blue or Silver Surfer?

Neil And I think it’s Deep Blue.

Rob Well, it sounds like you are more intelligent than a computer because you got the answer right. Yes, it was Deep Blue. The 1997 match was actually the second one between Kasparov and Deep Blue, a supercomputer designed by the company IBM and it was specialised in chess-playing.

Neil Well, I think I might challenge Deep Blue to a game obviously. I’m a bit of a genius myself.

Rob Very good! Good to hear! Anyway, we’ve just got time to remember some of the words and expressions that we’ve used today, Neil.

Neil They were:

you’ll need your wits about you

artificial

genius

synthetic

threat

to surpass

to pursue their goals

moral compass

Rob Thank you. Well, that’s it for this programme. Do visit bbclearningenglish.com to find more 6 Minute English programmes. Until next time. Goodbye!

Neil Goodbye!

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