Jerry Kaplan, CodeX Fellow, The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics
The common wisdom about Artificial Intelligence is that we are building increasingly intelligent machines that will ultimately surpass human capabilities, steal our jobs, possibly even escape human control and take over the world. This narrative is both misguided and counterproductive. A more appropriate framing–better supported by actual events and current trends—is that AI is simply a natural expansion of longstanding efforts to automate tasks, dating back at least to the start of the industrial revolution. Stripping the field of its gee-whiz apocalyptic gloss makes it easier to predict the likely benefits and pitfalls of this important technology.
AI has the potential to usher in a new age of affluence and leisure, but it’s likely to roil labor markets and increase inequality unless we address these pressing societal problems. The robots are certainly coming, but whether they will benefit society as a whole or serve the needs of the few is very much in doubt. Join me for an unorthodox tour of the history of Artificial Intelligence, learn why it is so misunderstood, and what we can do to ensure that the engines of progress don’t motor on without us.