An influential cabal of tech bosses and artificial intelligence experts are welcoming the ‘inevitable succession’ of robots, an investigation has found.
But seemingly far from seeking to prevent machines from taking over, a powerful group within the tech industry is telling us to ’embrace and prepare’ for it.
The investor – recently described as ‘the chief ideologist for the Silicon Valley elite’ – is on the board of directors at Meta, which owns social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Mr Andreessen’s views are echoed in the academic community with ‘rock star’ professor Dr Richard Sutton last month telling a major AI conference the world should ’embrace’ succession.
The debate over regulation comes amid fears Big Tech is engulfed in a dangerous arms race to create the most powerful AI models – and seemingly paying little heed to safety concerns as they do so.
Earlier this year, Tesla boss Elon Musk claimed that during talks with his close friend and former Google boss, Larry Page, the latter was not ‘concerned’ and appeared ‘quite cavalier’ about the risks AI posed.
Meanwhile, a government paper last week predicted future machines may try to convince humans to allow them to take over – and stop them regaining control.
Experts are concerned this is ‘a real possibility’ and ‘could be permanent and catastrophic’.
Mr Andreessen’s controversial 5,000-word opus The Techno-optimist Manifesto outlined a future in which AI would ‘expand capabilities to unimagined heights’.
But rather than put limits on its development, Mr Andreessen – whose venture capital firm invests billions in the latest AI start-ups – called for the technology to be allowed to ‘expand as fully and broadly as we possibly can’.
He wrote a list of ‘enemies’ that could prevent this, which includes ‘social responsibility, trust and safety, tech ethics, and ‘regulatory capture’.
Describing how it would ‘fix scores’ of common causes of death, he suggests any limits placed on its development ‘will cost lives’ and ‘is a form of murder’.
Mr Andreessen is a highly-respected figure whose influence extends to Meta, where where he has been on the board of directors since 2008.
The US tech giant is developing a powerful AI model that is increasingly underpinning all platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Last month, Dr Sutton told the fifth World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai that with AI ‘inevitably we will create our successors’.
The scientist – who argued the average computer will have the capacity for human-level intelligence by 2030 – asked the audience: ‘Why would we want greater beings kept subservient to us?’
Dr Sutton is considered one of the founding fathers of ‘reinforcement learning’, a field of AI in which machines can teach themselves rather than rely on humans.
Calling for ‘sober succession planning’, he argued the biggest risk to this is ‘fear’ – and that ‘clamping down, trying to control everything – which is what people are calling for – is not the answer’.
Concluding, he said we must find a ‘more humble place in the transformation’ and see it as ‘the best hope for a long-term future for humanity’, adding ‘What an adventure!’.
Until January, he was running the ‘first ever international research office’ for Google Deepmind, whose British boss Demis Hassabis will be attending the summit.
He now helps run Keen Technologies, which has raised millions to develop ‘artificial general intelligence’ – where machines become cleverer than humans.
His views have long been echoed by Hans Moravec, who co-founded US tech firm Seegrid, whose goal is to develop a fully autonomous robot that can work without any human involvement.
The ‘world-renowned’ professor, a leader in robotics research, has long prophesised that machines will ‘displace us from existence’ – but that he was ‘not as alarmed as many’.
In his book ‘Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind’, he says: ‘Rather quickly, they could displace us from existence’.
‘They will embody humanity’s best hope for a long-term future,’ he said, adding that it will be our duty to ‘give them every advantage and bow out when we can no longer contribute’.
He writes: ‘we can probably arrange for a comfortable retirement before we fade away.’
Earlier this year, Tesla boss Elon Musk told how he had repeatedly expressed concerns about the dangers of AI to Google co-founder Larry Page – only to find his warnings met with indifference.
Speaking to CNBC, he said: ‘So, I used to be close friends with Larry Page and I would stay at his house and we’d have these conversations long into the evening about AI and I would be constantly urging him to be careful about the danger of AI and he just he was really not concerned about the nature of AI and was quite cavalier about it.’
Earlier this year, over a thousand academics, experts, and bosses across the tech industry – including Mr Musk – called for an emergency stop in AI’s ‘dangerous’ ‘arms race’.
They warned the battle among tech firms to develop ever more powerful digital minds is ‘out of control’ and poses ‘profound risks to society and humanity’.
Mr Sunak has announced a £100million investment to accelerate the use of AI in research for cancer and dementia treatments.
AI tools, from a £2million investment, will also be rolled out in classrooms across England to help reduce workloads for teachers.
The technology will include AI-designed lesson plans and quizzes.