Home → Magazine Archive → October 2017 (Vol. 60, No. 10) → The Real Risks of Artificial Intelligence → Abstract

The Real Risks of Artificial Intelligence

By David Lorge Parnas

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 10, Pages 27-31

[article image]

The vast increase in speed, memory capacity, and communications ability allows today's computers to do things that were unthinkable when I started programming six decades ago. Then, computers were primarily used for numerical calculations; today, they process text, images, and sound recordings. Then, it was an accomplishment to write a program that played chess badly but correctly. Today's computers have the power to compete with the best human players.

The incredible capacity of today's computing systems allows some purveyors to describe them as having "artificial intelligence" (AI). They claim that AI is used in washing machines, the "personal assistants" in our mobile devices, self-driving cars, and the giant computers that beat human champions at complex games.


Andrew Oram

The term "intelligence" has immense emotional meaning for people, and that is probably why the term was chosen by early researchers into computer algorithms for decision-making. So many people talk about IQs (or used to) and agonize over whether their children are intelligent. AI is a buzzword, but I think it can be applied in useful ways. I would gloss over the emotions behind "intelligence" and define AI as a computer program that produces results that cannot be anticipated, even by the people who wrote the program.

Displaying 1 comment