What the invention of fire tells us about AI

While fears of job loss, robot wars, and changes to lifestyles from AI are worrisome and real, AI itself should be embraced to bring its benefits to fruition and to address any potential, negative consequences. To better understand this, compare the development of AI to that of the early days of fire — early days as in 100,000 years ago.

All Turtles CEO Phil Libin imagined a group of concerned cavemen huddled together. “There’s this new thing the kids are playing with,” Libin said. “The general expert consensus I’m pretty sure was fire ‘bad.’”

Miming prehistoric humans, Libin cites the risks of fire to include burning you and burning downing your cave. “Fire is going to be the demon that destroys human society,” he said, aping one of our forebears.

Yet, much like fire, it’s too easy to miss the benefits of AI by focusing only on its potential harms. “All of the negative things the experts were saying about fire turned out to be totally right,” Libin concludes. “What they didn’t get quite as right was the upside.”

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.