Artificial intelligence and sentience

01 May 2024 11:44 AM By Ray

Ray reflects on how science fiction has predicted the future and reflects on past skepticism towards new technologies. Join our upcoming webinar to explore the potential of AI and stay ahead in the evolving technological landscape. 

Science fiction nerds (like me) are fond of pointing out that sci-fi has often accurately predicted the future. This is true if you think Jules Verne and submarines, Arthur C Clarke and the Internet or even the communicators on 1960s Star Trek which bear a startling resemblance to a Motorola cellphone circa 1995. 

It’s also true that science fiction has been wrong as often as it was right. Isaac Asimov’s stories in the 1950s predicted that the whole world would be starving by now, while today’s problem - absent war and drought - is more likely to be obesity than malnutrition.

Science and prediction

Science can be influenced by speculative fiction though. In the movie Oppenheimer the real-life scientist Leo Szilard (played by Máté Haumann) had a minor role but in reality, Szilard was one of the first to realise that nuclear energy could be weaponised and convinced Einstein of this. 

Szilard had read H. G. Wells “The World Set Free” which described an atomic weapon very different to the one which came to life in the New Mexico desert, but it gave the physicist the original ideas that led to that final result. 

Szilard was apparently “irritated” by Kiwi Ernest Rutherford’s statement that anyone who looked for a source of power in the atom was “talking moonshine”, which shows that even the greatest scientists aren’t always good at predicting the future either. 

I thought about all this when I saw a news item recently talking about AI causing an “extinction-level event” (another phrase borrowed from science fiction btw). 

While this makes for a great headline, I don’t think it’s where we are headed with AI any more than any other technological innovation.

There are risks for sure, but we have proved quite adept at managing technology risk over the centuries. Fire can burn, electricity can kill and potentially the robot we saw on that news item could morph into something that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I see no reason to assume that the doomsday scenarios are inevitable.

Don't miss out on learning about AI

What would be a bad idea would be to ignore possibilities. If Leo Szilard had ignored the thought processes that led to the Manhattan Project history might have been very different.

If anyone ignores any major technology trend (AI being the trend du jour) they have a greater risk of becoming extinct by being left behind.

With that in mind here at CIO Studio will be running some webinars with our amazing AI strategist Mark Laurence. You can register free for this event and learn some stuff that will help you to make decisions about how this cool new tech can help improve your operation.

What: Potential of AI Webinar
When: 11am, 
Wednesday 22nd May

You can register for the webinar here: https://www.ciostudio.nz/webinar-ai

Ray Delany
Founder, CIO Studio