Tech | February 21, 2018 12:53 pm

AI Is Getting Cheaper, But That’s Not Necessarily Good News

A new report explains why cheaper and easier to work with AI adds additional risks.

AI Is Getting Cheaper, But That's Not Necessarily Good News (TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

A Silicon Valley start-up recently unveiled a drone that can set its own course without help. A smartphone app allows the user to tell the airborne drone to follow someone, and once it starts, it can be incredibly hard to shake. The drone is meant to be a fun flying selfie stick, but the idea that it would follow someone is very unnerving. On Tuesday, a group of artificial intelligence researchers and policymakers from prominent labs and think tanks in the United States and Britain released a report that discussed how AI technologies, which are rapidly evolving and increasingly affordable, could be used for malicious purposes. The report proposed preventative measures including being careful with how research is shared — ultimately the message was: Don’t spread it widely until you have a good understanding of its risks. For a long time, AI experts and pundits have shared concerns about threats created by the technology. But this is among the first efforts to tackle the issue head-on. The drone is a great example of their fears: made by a company called Skydio it costs $2,500. It was made with technological building blocks that anyone could get, like ordinary cameras, open-source software and low-cost computer chips. Putting all those pieces together will become increasingly easy and inexpensive, and therefore, it will get easier and cheaper to make a similar but dangerous device.