Expert Says There’s A 50% Chance AI Will Wipe Out Humanity And We Won’t Know How Or When

Expert Says There’s A 50% Chance AI Will Wipe Out Humanity And We Won’t Know How Or When MIT Physics | iStock/onurdongel

A physicist and AI expert has warned there’s a very real danger that artificial intelligence could wipe out humanity. Max Tegmark, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that given that humans have made other, less intelligent species go extinct over the years, the same could happen to us once AI can outthink humans (which will definitely happen). To make matters worse, he says we won’t even know what’s coming to us, when, or how it’ll happen because we’re not smart enough. Great!

Professor Tegmark was being interviewed by the Swedish national broadcaster, SVT, when he made the comments.

“About half of all other species on earth have already been exterminated by us humans,” he explained. “Because we were smarter, they had no control. What we are warning about now is that if we humans lose control over our society to machines that are much smarter than us, then things can go just as bad for us.”

Tegmark so strongly believes that AI could wipe out humanity that he was one of the experts who signed a single-sentence statement this week warning of the dangers ahead.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” the statement read.

During a 2018 TED Talk, Max Tegmark issued a similar warning, claiming that humans could eventually become slaves to the machines we create. And while many claim the answer is to simply keep this technology on a leash, it’s not really that simple.

“But you might worry that maybe we humans just aren’t smart enough to handle that much power,” he said. “Also, aside from any moral qualms you might have about enslaving superior minds, you should be more worried that maybe the superintelligence could outsmart us. They could break out and take over.”

Well, I wasn’t worried about that before, but I am now! Of course, the optimists among us seem to think AI is a good thing and could help us achieve immortality within the next decade.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill