The keynote of Oxford University Future of Humanity Institute Director Nick Bostrom filled the main stage area of SHIFT Business Festival with spectators on Tuesday afternoon. Bostrom, who is known for his future scenarios that border on the dystopian, spoke about the future of humanity from the viewpoint of technological development and the threats and possibilities brought about by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Bostrom came to the public’s attention with his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies in 2014. In his SHIFT keynote, he confessed the book focused perhaps too much on the negative and said that today he holds a more open attitude towards the future, with feelings of both terror and excitement. When asked where this new, more positive opinion originated, Bostrom replied in his familiar, slightly pessimistic tone: “We are lucky in that so far, we know so little – as long as there’s ignorance, there is hope.”
Bostrom’s keynote is highly relevant at this time, when interest towards AI is growing rapidly. This is evident in the research community, where AI research is receiving more funding and the number of researchers working on the subject is likewise increasing. According to Bostrom, the biggest problem at the moment is research being conducted in isolated silos, rather than in open collaboration which he believes would yield the best results for the future of the whole of humanity. Technology that is developing at an exponentially rapid pace must benefit everyone, and this can only be achieved when development takes place in a culture of open sharing, Bostrom claims and calls for transparency in both academic and commercial research communities.
Harri Valpola, CEO of the Curious AI Company and a merited AI, neuroscience and robotics scientist, attended Bostrom’s keynote at SHIFT and commented delightedly on the researcher’s new, cautiously positive attitude: “I am glad that Nick is trying to find his inner optimist!” Valpola met his American colleague for the first time at SHIFT Business Festival, where he also took the main stage to give a talk for the Future of Intelligence program track.
The business and technology festival SHIFT is being held for the third time this year, this time at the decommissioned prison of Kakolan Lääni in Turku.
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SHIFT Business Festival connects groundbreaking technology with leaders of traditional industries for a discussion about the ethics of future development. The festival, attracting 4000 great minds and visionaries, is held May 22nd - 23rd 2018 in the abandoned prison of Kakolan Lääni, Turku, Finland.
SHIFT is organised by a non-profit organization with the purpose of shaping breakthrough technology to be responsible and sustainable.
SHIFT is not an event. It is a beginning.
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