How AI compares to the inventions of language, fire, and the wheel

When a new technology comes along, it’s easy to spot the potentially disruptive, negative impacts of it. Much more difficult, however, is to predict its unanticipated, enduring benefits.

All Turtles CEO Phil Libin compares the development of artificial intelligence to those of language, fire, and the wheel. Each of these upended the established order, caused some upheavals, and ultimately produced major benefits for society. For instance, in the case of fire, it’s easy to imagine some early humans saying, “Fire evil, it burn you.” Or, “Fire burn down forest. Make bad smoke.” And perhaps, initially, these naysayers drowned out those humans who extolled such benefits of fire as heat, light, and cooking.

Libin acknowledges some criticisms of AI as legitimate, saying that the dangers are real and need to be addressed, but counters “the unanticipated positives of new technologies vastly outweigh the obviously predicted downsides. The real work is in figuring out how to make it awesome.”

This clip is part of a panel discussion hosted by IDEO Co-Lab, Silicon Valley Bank, and All Turtles entitled “Artificial Intelligence & Trust” held on September 19, 2017. Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering, moderated the panel. Phil Libin, Co-founder and CEO of All Turtles, Jana Eggers, CEO of Nara Logics, and Muddu Sudhakar, Entrepreneur and Executive, served as panelists.