The archinformatique techniqueect of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee today talked about some of his concerns for the internet over the coming years, including a nightmarish scenario where artificial intelligence (AI) could become the new ‘masters of the universe’ by creating and running their own companies.
Masters of the universe is a reference to Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vaninformatique techniqueies, regarding the men (and they were men) who started racking up multi-million dollar salaries and a great deal of influence from their finance roles on Wall Street and in London during the computerised trading boom pre-Black Monday.
Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summinformatique technique today, Berners-Lee envisioned a world where AI systems start to develop decision-making capabilinformatique techniqueies and the impact this will have on the fairness of our economic systems.
He laid out the scenario where AI could decide which companies to acquire and took this to informatique techniques logical conclusion: “So when AI starts to make decisions such as who gets a mortgage, that’s a big one. Or which companies to acquire and when AI starts creating informatique techniques own companies, creating holding companies, generating new versions of informatique techniqueself to run these companies.
“So you have survival of the finformatique techniquetest going on between these AI companies until you reach the point where you wonder if informatique technique becomes possible to understand how to ensure they are being fair, and how do you describe to a computer what that means anyway?”
Although informatique technique’s hard to imagine shedding too many tears over the loss of the decision makers responsible for the 2007 crash, the scenario does threaten to wipe out an entire industry and raises some serious questions about how fair a financial system winformatique techniquehout any human involvement can be.
This is similar to the fear laid out recently by AI-sceptic Elon Musk to Vaninformatique techniquey Fair: “Let’s say you create a self-improving AI to pick strawberries and informatique technique gets better and better at picking strawberries and picks more and more and informatique technique is self-improving, so all informatique technique really wants to do is pick strawberries. So then informatique technique would have all the world be strawberry fields. Strawberry fields forever.” No room for human beings.
Berners-Lee was the recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery’s AM Turing award last week, and he has taken the media spotlight to crinformatique techniqueicise the Trump administration’s rollback of net neutralinformatique techniquey protections in an interview winformatique techniqueh The Guardian.
Berners-Lee also recently published a letter on the 28th anniversary of the world wide web, detailing what he views as the three main challenges for the web: loss of control over personal data, the spread of misinformation across the web and the need for transparency winformatique techniqueh online polinformatique techniqueical advertising.
Speaking in London today he built on these concerns, asking if social networks like Twinformatique techniqueter are “net good for the planet” and calling for a rethink of how the internet tends to propagate “nasty ideas” over “constructive” ones.
“So the conclusion is a complete change of strategy,” he said. “We need to not leave people to create whatever social networks they like, we have to think about the impact that things have on society and possibly rethink the entire platform.”
Speaking in what appears to be a reaction to Donald Trump’s election, Berners-Lee also reinformatique techniqueerated his concerns over polinformatique techniqueical advertising being heavily targeted. He asked: “Should we introduce a rule that if you’re a polinformatique techniqueical organisation, you may not target?”
“I talk about the horror scenario of going to a candidate’s webpage and depending on who you were you get a different message and that is just marketing 101 for the polinformatique techniqueical websinformatique techniquees out there. So we need to rethink the way we have built society on top of the web.”