Do the Dangers of Artificial Intelligence Outweigh Its Blessings?

Over the last 12 years at Intelligence Squared U.S., we’ve been able to debate many facets of one of the most transformative technologies of our time: artificial intelligence. As technology continues to develop, what kind of benefits does it offer society? Are those benefits outweighed by the potential dangers of artificial intelligence? Take a look back at our series of debates focused on the revolutionary technology and decide for yourself: Should we embrace artificial intelligence?


Artificial Intelligence: The Risks Could Outweigh the Rewards

We started the artificial intelligence debate with the very fundamentals, looking at humanity’s ability to grapple with the benefits, and of course the consequences. Proponents of AI in that debate, namely transhumanist and entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt and bioethicist James Hughes, argued that artificial intelligence potentially has the power to save and extend human life, and help solve a complex societal problem. Their opponents, computer scientist and author Jaron Lanier  and internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen, argued that the technology could be so transformative in everything from labor and economic inequality to our existential understanding of what it means to be human, that fear of artificial intelligence should persuade governments, technologists, and entrepreneurs to proceed with caution. Listen here:


Automation Will Crash Democracy

In the spring of 2018, we took a more specific look at the political implications of automation and artificial intelligence, and whether democracy can survive those changes. Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer and political scientist Yascha Mounk argued that as automation and artificial intelligence continues to displace workers across industries, citizens will lose trust in institutions and governments, and begin to embrace authoritarianism as a solution to their economic pain. Their opponents, Andrew Keen, author of “How to Fix the Future,” and Brookings Institution fellow Alina Polyakova, argued that the fears around economic displacement are overwrought, and that history has shown humans’ ability to adapt to technological change.


All Hail the Driverless Car!

One of the most immediate uses of artificial intelligence technology in the last few years has been the development of driverless vehicles. Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson and Amitai Bin-Nun, vice president of autonomous vehicles at S.A.F.E. argued that driverless cars are a safe, economical improvement on human-operated vehicles. Meredith Broussard, a data journalist and professor at New York University, and her debate partner Ashley Nunes, a professor at MIT, argued that in fact driverless cars are not as safe as they seem, and in turn raise ethical questions about the decision making of AI when lives are at risk.


IBM Project Debater

In all of these examples, we debated the merits and potential costs of artificial intelligence. But in February of 2019, we had the ability to debate with artificial intelligence. In partnership with IBM, our host John Donvan moderated a first-of-its-kind debate between a world-class human debater and IBM’s very own artificial intelligence system Project Debater.

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