Today’s artificial intelligence is as self-aware as a paper clip. Despite the hype—such as a Google engineer’s bizarre claim that his company’s AI system had “come to life” and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweet predicting that computers will have human intelligence by 2029—the technology still fails at simple everyday tasks. That includes driving vehicles, especially when confronted by unexpected circumstances that require even the tiniest shred of human intuition or thinking.
The sensationalism surrounding AI is not surprising, considering that Musk himself had warned that the technology could become humanity’s “biggest existential threat” if governments don’t regulate it. But whether or not computers ever attain human-like intelligence, the world has already summoned a different, equally destructive AI demon: Precisely because today’s AI is little more than a brute, unintelligent system for automating decisions using algorithms and other technologies that crunch superhuman amounts of data, its widespread use by governments and companies to surveil public spaces, monitor social media, create deepfakes, and unleash autonomous lethal weapons has become dangerous to humanity.