Artificial intelligence poses a greater challenge to the world than terrorism, warned the new president of the British Science Association.
Professor Jim Al-Khalili, a physicist at the University of Surrey, warned that progress in artificial intelligence is "happening too fast" and is not being regulated well enough.
He said AI will make Britain increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks and lead to greater inequality, as thousands are left unemployed.
Artificial intelligence poses a greater challenge to the world than terrorism, warned the incoming president of the British Science Association (pictured)
At a meeting in London before the British Science Festival in Hull this week, he said: "Until a couple of years ago, if you had asked me what is the most important and important conversation we should have about our future, I could have done it. climate change or one of the other great challenges facing humanity, such as terrorism, resistance to antimicrobials, the threat of pandemics or global poverty.
"But today I am sure that the most important conversation we should have is about the future of AI.It will dominate what happens with all these other problems for better or for worse.
"If Russian cyber hackers could meddle in the 2016 US elections, then what prevents cyber-terrorists from hacking into any future electrical network controlled by AI, transportation systems, banks of military installations?
"Our government has the responsibility to protect society from potential threats and risks."
He added: "Many people are becoming increasingly nervous about what they see as uncontrolled progress in AI.
"There are valid concerns about the widespread implementation of AI that leads to an increase in inequality, it is predicted that robotics and autonomous systems will cause job losses, mainly affecting workers with low-skilled roles, and there is still little research on how The future effects of automation could vary across the United Kingdom.
Humanoid Robot Sophia is seen during the Discovery exhibition on April 30, 2018 in Toronto, Canada
"We are now seeing a level of interest, investment and technological progress unprecedented in the field, that many people, including myself, feel that it is happening too quickly."
Al-Khalili also warned the week that without greater transparency and public commitment, the full potential of artificial intelligence will not be realized.
Artificial Intelligence promises an even greater revolution than the Internet but could be repressed in the United Kingdom by a negative reaction of the public driven by fear.
In the absence of concerted action on the part of academics, government and industry, rapidly advancing technology could end up "uncontrolled and unregulated" in the hands of a few extremely powerful companies, he said.
With a preview of his presidential address at this year's British Science Festival in Hull, which begins this week, Prof. Al-Khalili spoke of the dream and the dangers of AI.
He noted that the United Kingdom was at the forefront of technology, which is expected to contribute up to $ 15 trillion (£ 11.7 trillion) to the global economy by 2030.
Theoretical physicist, author and speaker Professor Jim Al-Khalili
But there was a risk that AI would work in the same way as GM (genetic modification) and that politicians would consider it terrifying and sinister and a "poisonous chalice".
Professor Al-Khalili said: "There is a real danger of a public reaction against AI potentially similar to what we had with GM in the early days of the millennium.
"If the public is disconnected, our leaders will see it as a lower priority." The regulations should be in place and may arrive too late.
He wants AI to be included in the school curriculum, although that would be like switching to a giant tanker in the middle of the ocean, and the focus of public education programs that dissipate the myths.
While AI was often considered science fiction, it was already becoming part of everyday life, said Professor Al-Khalili.
AI manifested itself in virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa, as well as in the "almost psychic awareness" of Google, Facebook and Amazon.
In the future, technology could completely reshape society.
"AI will transform our lives in the coming decades, even more than the Internet in the last decades," said Professor Al-Khalili. & # 39; Let's make sure we're ready for that & # 39;
The new documentary by Prof. Al-Khalili & # 39; The Joy of AI & # 39; was launched on Tuesday, September 4 at BBC4.