Scaling Up Humanity: The Case for Conditional Optimism about Artificial Intelligence

Expert opinions on the timing of future developments in artificial intelligence (AI) vary widely, with some expecting human-level AI in the next few decades and others thinking that it is much further off (Grace et al., 2017). Similarly, experts disagree on whether developments in AI are likely to be beneficial or harmful for human civilization, with the range of opinions including those who feel certain that it will be extremely beneficial, those who consider it likely to be extremely harmful (even risking human extinction), and many in between (AI Impacts, 2017). While the risks of AI development have recently received substantial attention (Bostrom, 2014; Amodei and Olah et al., 2016), there has been little systematic discussion of the precise ways in which AI might be beneficial in the long term.

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