Podcast: Superintelligence – a godsend, or a doomsday device?

February 26, 2015

James Taylor
, Legal Counsel, Fujitsu Services Limited

Speaker: (Please click to listen to the presentation)
Nick Bostrom
, Professor, Faculty of Philosophy & Oxford Martin School, Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Director, Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, University of Oxford

Oliver Lawson
, Senior Associate, Stevens & Bolton LLP
James Taylor, Legal Counsel, Fujitsu Services Limited
Matthew Lavy, Barrister, 4 Pump Court

Since the term “AI” was first coined, the possibilities and pitfalls of machines capable of autonomous thought have transcended computer science to occupy their own place in the Matrix (apologies) of popular culture. Every month, it seems, a new machine capable of defeating its human creators is produced; first chess, then Jeopardy, and now Texas Hold ’em poker. However, while we can tolerate being bested at a card game, what happens if the machines start to out compete us at the greatest game of all – life?

The challenge humanity faces is considerable. Victory at poker was achieved by a machine capable of playing 24 trillion theoretical hands of poker every second. The capability of Superintelligence to drive humanity’s development seems almost limitless, but can we harness that potential without bringing about a real – life Skynet? One answer, lawyers may be pleased to learn, is through the establishment at the genesis of superintelligence of rules able to protect humanity from its own creation. No pressure on that drafting, then.

For its relaunch event, SCL Technology Law Futures Group are delighted to have secured the ideal speaker to address us on this topic; Nick Bostrom, Director of the aptly-named Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford and author of the New York Times bestseller, Superintelligence (OUP, 2014). Nick will explain why the development of superintelligence will be the last invention humanity will ever need to make and why managing the transition to the machine intelligence era will be extremely difficult.

SCL Technology Law Futures Group

The SCL Technology Law Futures Group is passionate about the future of technology and its relevance to society as a whole. Our aim is to bring about a greater understanding of technology within the legal profession and to bring to its attention those emergent technology trends, topics and developments poised to change society as we know it. We aim to host events giving SCL members the opportunity to hear from leading minds from across the world of technology, and thereafter through panel discussions and Q&A sessions to provide a forum for informed debate on the role of the legal profession as society continues to adapt to these new technological stimuli.