Hopes and Fears for Intelligent Machines in Fiction and Reality
This paper categorises some of the fundamental hopes and fears expressed in imaginings of AI, based on a survey of 300 fictional and nonfictional works. The categories are structured into four dichotomies, each comprising a hope and a parallel fear, mediated by the notion of control. These are: the hope for much longer lives (‘immortality’) and the fear of losing one’s identity (‘inhumanity’); the hope for a life free of work (‘ease’), and the fear of becoming redundant (‘obsolescence’); the hope that AI can fulfil one’s desires (‘gratification’), alongside the fear that humans will become redundant to each other (‘alienation’); and the hope that AI offers power over others (‘dominance’), and the fear that it will turn against us (‘uprising’). This paper further argues that these perceptions of AI’s possibilities, which may be quite detached from the reality of the technology, can influence how it is developed, deployed and regulated.