At the May 2023 WSJ CEO Council Summit, Elon Musk said, “I don’t think the AI is going to try to destroy all humanity but it might put us under strict controls.” Such concerns are reasonable. Moreover, I am sure that if AI begins to rule the world, then humanity will be controlled not by a genius at all, but by artificial George Abnego from William Tenn’s famous short story “Null-P.” Let’s try to imagine how it will be.
The protagonist in “Null-P” is so perfectly normal and perfectly average person that even “the very teeth in his mouth tallied in quantity and condition with those predicted by the American Dental Association to be found on a man extracted at random from the population.” This is somewhat similar to how artificial intelligence works. For example, when generating an image, AI uses patterns based on the analysis of many other similar pictures. The result is something average between them, and any real innovation is impossible. Even if a deviation from the norm is purposefully set in the algorithm, the results will be generated randomly, which means that the search for masterpieces among them will be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Furthermore, only a human will be able to identify a masterpiece. And all the results of AI work in any field will inevitably be based only on the previous achievements of mankind.
Thus, if artificial intelligence becomes a world leader, then we will have a perfectly average world leader. In Tenn’s story, Abnego became the first President of the World and brought peace and tranquility to humanity. But humanity had to pay for that with the rejection of development. The degradation of mankind turned humans into pets of dogs while the last ones evolved to the level of Homo sapiens.
However, humanity can still avoid such a fate if we understand that AI is only a tool, not a Messiah.