WATCH: 5 Top Tech Minds Reveal Hopes and Fears About AI


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.


The Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center recently brought a diverse group of neuroscientists and philosophers together with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and programmers to answer a question posed by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio: As developments in artificial intelligence extend or surpass human intelligence, do they challenge the traditional definition of what it means to be human?

In the following videos, five of Silicon Valley’s top minds — Reid Hoffman, Scott Phoenix, Elad Gil, Bo Shao and Bill Joy — respond to this question and address the promises and perils of AI in the near future and long term.

Utopia or Dystopia? — Reid Hoffman

Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, explains how AI may help us find utopian solutions to existent and emerging human problems. But there is the possibility that AI will become our awful robot overlords that only benefit the few if we don’t cultivate social change in tandem. “The real risks involve what AI does in the hands of human beings,” he says.

Solutions for Everything — Scott Phoenix

Phoenix, co-founder of Vicarious, argues that human innovation is limited by biology — the number of people, the years we live and how we think. A superintelligent AI, he says, could help us achieve what mortality obstructs, leading us to better and longer lives.

An Algorithm for Love — Elad Gil

Gil, co-founder of Color Genomics, says your future happiness may be found through the computations of your local AI matchmaking robot. It may know you better than you think.

The Rising Species — Elad Gil

Gil also says the evolution of AI is the evolution of an independent species that will demand we rethink the ethics and power relations between man and machine.

AI Will Never Be Human — Bo Shao

Shao, founding managing partner of Matrix Partners China, cautions us to hold tight to the embodied sense of purpose that makes us human. What distinguishes human from machine is our lived experience, he says. We are more than goal-oriented machines moving from task to task.

Calculating Better Medicine — Bill Joy

Joy, co-founder and former chief scientist of Sun Microsystems and co-author of “The Java Language Specification,” says if we embrace artificial intelligence, it may literally save our lives. AI may be the future of medicine, he says, helping humanity live longer through better diagnostics and information enabled by big data computing power.

CRISPR: The Danger in Future Tech — Bill Joy

Joy’s real worries though concern the capacity of gene editing technology to wipe out genetic diversity.