The New York Times did a story earlier in the week on fears faced over the rise of artificial intelligence. Spurred by a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence at the Asimolar Conference, John Markoff reports:
"Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone."
The AAAI is giong to issue a report from the conference later this year assessing "the possibility of “the loss of human control of computer-based intelligences."
A lot of this sounds like a proposal made by Edmund C. Berkeley, a "thinking machine expert" in 1950. As reported in the new book Future, A Recent History, he said "'If we are not to be displaced by robots we must establish social control over them' he argued, suggesting perhaps the creation of a Robot Machine Commission whose oversight function would be analogous to that of the Atomic Energy Comission."
Critically, Markoff cites the PR war against genetically modified foods as a model for how the AI industry could be undermined. The topic deserves serious thought...by humans, of course.