In Montreal, one of the fathers of artificial intelligence warns of an existential threat to man


On the stage, a giant aluminum foil robot, looking like the man of R2-D2 in Star Wars, gives a little vintage flavor to the event organized by C2 Montréal, an annual business meeting presenting itself as the “Davos of creativity”. But the conversation organized on May 24 around the theme “Artificial Intelligence: Democracy and the Future of Civilization” was far more distressing than the saga imagined in its time by George Lucas. The threats of dispossession and domination looming with this new technology are not science fiction, they are before our eyes, there, immediately, now”have not stopped repeating the two luminaries called to discuss the issue.

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One of the whistleblowers that day is none other than one of the fathers of artificial intelligence: Quebec professor Yoshua Bengio, 59, winner in 2019 of the Turing Prize, the equivalent of the Nobel for computer science, also founder and scientific director of Mila, the Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence based in Montreal, a pivotal organization bringing together university researchers specializing in deep learning and industrialists. “A one-of-a-kind ecosystem, which positioned itself from the outset, in 1993, on an ethical choice, “AI for good”, artificial intelligence for the good of all exclaims Stéphane Paquet, president of Montreal International, an organization created to attract foreign investment to the Quebec metropolis.

After the Canadian-British Geoffrey Hinton (co-recipient of the Turing Prize in 2019) chose to resign from Google at the beginning of May to feel free to denounce the dangers of AI, he who largely contributed to its progress by relying on the use of artificial neurons, it is the turn of the Quebec computer scientist to alert public opinion to the risks incurred by the accelerated development of their ” Babe “. This technology, he explains on stage, is now at a ” inflection point “. After having ceded part of our intelligence to machines, we are faced with the prospect that they can now flourish, endowed with an intelligence equal to, and probably soon superior to, that of humans. We don’t know if that will happen. But if this is the case, we can speak of an existential threat. Imagine a new species so intelligent that it looks at us the way we look at frogs today… Are we treating frogs correctly? »he worries.

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