AI and the "Oppenheimer Moment"

AI and the "Oppenheimer Moment"

Taking a cue from his new film, dedicated to one of the main creators of atomic bombdirector Christopher Nolan spoke of "Oppenheimer moment" for those who work in AI today.

"Artificial intelligence will eventually control our nuclear weapons - Nolan said - if we think that AI is a distinct entity from those who develop and wield it, then we are doomed".

"We have to hold people accountable for what they do with the tools at their disposal," added the director of 'Oppenheimer'in theaters from August 23 next.

Christopher Nolan, director of Oppenheimer

Nolan is not an expert in artificial intelligence, but like other intellectuals he is particularly restless towards this technology. And the new work of him on Robert Oppenheimerbased on the 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the physicist, evidently did nothing but amplify his anxieties.

Called up in 1942 to head the Manhattan Projectthe US atomic program that led to the bombs of Hiroshima and NagasakiOppenheimer was aware that he was working on a lethal weapon.

Magazine Scientific American writes that Oppenheimer, in the same week that he helped optimize the bomb blast, "was heard muttering 'those poor little people' on his morning walks."

Physicist Robert Oppenheimer, at right, points to photo of atomic bomb explosion over Nagasaki

Physicist Robert Oppenheimer, at right, points to photo of atomic bomb explosion over Nagasaki

And Oppenheimer himself, following the first detonation of an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert, on July 16, 1945he would whisper: "Now I become Death, the destroyer of worlds". They weren't his words but one of the verses of the Bhagavad-Gitthe "Gospel of India" dear to the faithful of Hinduism.

After the war, Oppenheimer sat with President Truman to talk about international control of nuclear weapons, telling him, "I feel like I have blood on my hands."

Similarly, today, the fathers of modern artificial intelligence they come to terms with their conscience, and with a technology that - if used in the wrong way - could cause enormous damage to human beings. One of these, Geoffrey Hinton"Nobel" prize for computer science in 2018 for its precious work on neural networkshas recently left the company he worked for for ten years, Googleto feel free to denounce the risks associated with the uncontrolled development of AI.

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Hinton, famous and respected for his studies on the back propagation of the error, an algorithm that allows machines to learn, has come to regret the work it has done over the past forty years. And al New York Timesduring one of his first interviews "as an unemployed", said something that makes you think: "I console myself with the usual excuse: if I hadn't done it, it would have been someone else's turn".

The entrepreneurs who train the main models do not have the same purity of mind generative artificial intelligence, able to write as a man would. It comes to think of Sam Altmanwho asked the US government - and then the whole world - for rules for the AI ​​that he himself develops with Open AIa company that pursues profit and certainly not the welfare of society.

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Among the main criticisms leveled at generative AIs, and therefore also at Altman's creature, ChatGptthere is the ease with which these chabots can put themselves at the service of those who want to spread fake news.

Yuval Noah Hararithe historian who conquered the world with his books on the past and future of mankind (from "Sapiens" to "Homo Deus"), is worried about a future in which it will be possible to create, very easily, billions of "fake people".

Harari has gone as far as calling for "20 years in prison" for anyone who will create "fake people" using AI. "If you can't distinguish a real human being from a fake one - Harari said during a conference organized in Geneva by the United Nations - trust will collapse. And with it the free society. Perhaps dictatorships will manage to get away with it somehow, but not democracies".


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Ironically, the possible solution to this problem could create an even bigger one. Just look at one of the startups in which Sam Altman has invested his money.

We are talking about worldcoinwho created a device - called the Orb - capable of scanning the iris of its owner and using biometric data to verify your identity. And to exclude with certainty that we are dealing with one of the many amazing artifacts generated by artificial intelligence.

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