IBM Watson for President?

Reading the most recent comments by Billy and LogicFish, I got to thinking about the impact artificial intelligence might have on society, and wondering whether it could revolutionize the way we are governed.

I suppose most people – if they think about it at all – think of AI as some aspect of IBM Watson, an all-knowing sage with a benign attitude, or as grown-up versions of our Bob, which buzzes along the floor picking up cat fur.

Of course we deal with AI almost daily as we try to get past the telephone answering machines that guard today’s corporations. And if the machines I deal with are “intelligent,” I wonder what “stupid” machines must be like.

I wouldn’t trust one of them to make my lemonade.  Would you?

But when I read about 3D printing and the like, i feel as if I’m peeking through a mystic window into some kind of magic kingdom beyond my scant ability to imagine or conceive.

It’s all too intricate and complex for me to sort out. I was born before television, before “wonder drugs,” before laptops and smart phones, before IBM and Microsoft;-  even before military radar.  So you can imagine how bemused I am by machines that “learn” by reprogramming themselves as they get used.

And I suspect that even those of you who are a lot younger and smarter than I  must be scratching your heads in wonder – and perhaps dismay – as you ponder our electronic future.

Could “intelligent” machines become malevolent? Could they become uncontrollable? Could they learn to lust after power like their human programmers?

Or could they develop into manifestations of our better angels, all-knowing, completely benign, ensuring not only our economic security, our health and  our safety, but also  liberty and justice for all?

And, in that case, might Americans one day elect some evolution of Watson as president?

I wonder whether that would be good or bad. But I bet it would be better than what we have now.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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