Artificial intelligence: Should we worry?

The epic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey features a sentient computer, Hal 9000, whose job it is to control a ship carrying astronauts to Jupiter, but a malfunction turns the computer against the crew. That film came out in 1968, around the same time when comedian Woody Allen was performing a stand-up routine, Mechanical Objects, a story about a talking, apparently sentient, elevator bullying him, but, unlike Hal’s malfunction, the reason for the elevator’s behavior was made clear. Allen had hit a television. The late 1960s was also the time period when NASA was sending astronauts to the Moon with significantly less computing power than the smart phones that people use today for broadcasting cat videos. And so, whether a comedy scenario or a dramatic sci-fi thriller was on their mind, nobody thought the prospect of…

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