“The future is now.” This is a common refrain made in science-fiction movies. The fantasy land of the future is becoming a reality and doing so now. Just look at the new $27 million research fund being put together by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The fund has an almost “cyberpunk” feel to it. The goal of the fund is to support research into artificial intelligence in the public interest. This does sound like the plot of a science-fiction movie. A noble goal to create an artificial intelligence system ends with terrifying results. Think of Skynet from The Terminator or HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Perhaps such imagery is more than a little bit melodramatic. Artificial intelligence systems are not going to be “self-aware” any time soon. Early versions of artificial intelligence systems simply will integrate automation to streamline the way technology operates. With this particular fund, the goal is to promote “ethically designed AI systems” to counter problems such as the spread of fake news online. The amount of money invested in the fund is significant. Whether or not the investment bears fruit remains to be seen.
Something does have to be pointed out here. Artificial intelligence is not emotional. Human beings are guided by emotion. A lot of people like to believe “fake news” because the news may be in line with their opinions. The news could also connect with a person on an emotional level. In short, certain segments of the popular are going to believe what they read because the news fits their picture of the world.
No artificial intelligence system is likely to override how these people think and believe.