By Erika, age 14
Every year since 2001, the American Museum of Natural History has hosted the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, in honor of Isaac Asimov, a renowned science fiction author and supporter of the museum. This year’s topic was artificial intelligence (AI). Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was the moderator, as he has been since 2001. The panel was made up of 5 members: Helen Greiner, the creator of the iconic Roomba™; Ruchir Puri, Chief Architect of the IBM Watson; Max Tegmark, a professor working on physics and AI research at MIT and author of Life 3.0; Michael Wellman, the Lynn A. Conway Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan; and John Giannandrea, Senior Vice President for Search at Google.
Generally, there are two major attitudes people have towards the development of AI. Either robots will kill all humans or they will assist into the light of a new age. One of the first things the panel discussed is that robots and AI will most likely not become our overlords, despite what some people think.
I enjoyed the debate because it was a unique opportunity to hear about AI from people at the forefront of its development. A few of the topics included how Watson was developed, what purposes robots could be used for, and how robots are learning new things.
A question I believe everyone should think about is this: if technology gets to the point where it can do anything, how will you use it? People won’t have to pick up trash or wash the dishes. What will you do? It depends on what you’re interested in, and what you want to do is what you should focus on! With technology, we won’t have to do mundane tasks, which leaves us with time to do what we truly want. That is why we have technology, to help us with our struggles.