Will AI Save the World?


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has some people worried about how it will affect industries and livelihoods across the world. In his article, “Why AI Will Save the World,” Marc Andreessen argues that AI will not destroy the world – it might in fact save it. 

Andreessen reminds his readers that AI is not sentient. It cannot decide on its own that it will turn against humanity to take over the world in some science fiction-style uprising. AI is code, mathematics, programmed. It has no mind of its own.  

One caveat of this reality is that while AI cannot turn against its masters of its own free will, it can be programmed to carry out the desires of its programmer – good or bad. This is true of any technology, however, and AI should not be feared for this reason. Computers have been used for cyber-crimes, yet we do not outlaw all computers or cull innovation on computing power, for example. 

With this understood, Andreessen lays out some AI use cases that are years away but could make our lives on Earth more efficient and smarter. While some of Andreessen’s predictions may seem to come out of a science fiction movie, the future of AI is truly unpredictable as we are currently experiencing the infancy of the technology. Who knows what the future holds? Here are some predictions he makes for how AI can maximize humanity: 

  • Every child will have an AI tutor that is infinitely patient, compassionate, knowledgeable, and helpful. 
  • Every person will have an AI assistant/coach/mentor/trainer/advisor/therapist that is infinitely patient, compassionate, knowledgeable, and helpful.  
  • Every scientist will have an AI assistant/collaborator/partner that will greatly expand their scope of scientific research and achievement.  
  • Every artist, every engineer, every businessperson, every doctor, every caregiver will have the same in their worlds. 
  • Every leader of people – CEO, government official, nonprofit president, athletic coach, teacher – will have the same. The magnification effects of better decisions by leaders across the people they lead are enormous, so this intelligence augmentation may be the most important of all. 
  • Productivity growth throughout the economy will accelerate dramatically, driving economic growth, creation of new industries, creation of new jobs, and wage growth, and resulting in a new era of heightened material prosperity across the planet. 
  • Scientific breakthroughs, new technologies, and medicines will dramatically expand, as AI helps us further decode the laws of nature and harvest them for our benefit. 

He claims, “Anything that people do with their natural intelligence today can be done much better with AI, and we will be able to take on new challenges that have been impossible to tackle without AI, from curing all diseases to achieving interstellar travel.”  

One important note to go along with Andreessen’s predictions is that, like in his definition of AI, we must remember that AI does not contain lived, human experiences. In the current state, it is a prediction model. It doesn’t “know” anything, understand, or contain humanity. To be “infinitely patient, compassionate, knowledgeable, and helpful” is vague and not realistic at the moment.  

In addition, “better decisions” is also up for debate. Because AI only understands what it is programmed to understand, would it be decided based on what it predicts the programmer would decide? Would this really be a “better” decision, or just take accountability away from humans should a decision turn sour? These are all theoretical situations that are important to think through while AI is booming and what the future holds. 

But what do you think, could AI provide these improvements to humanity? Do you agree with everything Andreessen predicts? The original article can be found here, where Andreessen dives deeper into debunking AI myths and risks while proposing what should be done in the near future to further develop AI.