Max Tegmark, till höger, menar att Sverige kan ta ledningen i frågan om AI, moral och etik. Här på Sime i samtal med Ola Ahlvarsson, moderator för teknikkonferensen Sime.
Sweden can take a lead in ethics for Artificial Intelligence, Max Tegmark, to the right, claims. To the left, Ola Ahlvarsson, driver of the tech conference Sime.

Tegmark: Sweden can take a lead in ethics for AI

Professor Max Tegmark, well-known for his thoughts on artificial intelligence, claims that Sweden can take a leading role in ethics for AI and morality.

All seats occupied and people standing all over, in double or triple rows up to the walls. Professor Max Tegmark is in town and the tech conference Sime in Stockholm is crowded with people eager to listen to the well-known Swedish-American physicist, cosmologist and author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Max Tegmark left his native Sweden in 1990. Today he is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute. Sitting relaxed in one of the armchairs on stage at Sime he stresses that Sweden can take a lead in the growing field of ethics for Artificial Intelligence.

Sweden can take a lead

“I think Sweden has an amazing and unique tradition. We are the country that are the pioneer of technology for good. We said, let’s use all this technology we have after World War Two to build a state that really makes a society better for everyone.”

“Let’s do this now with AI. Sweden could be the country that defines Welfare 3.0. Sweden could be a moral leader identifying all the great stuff that we can do,” says Max Tegmark.

He stresses that it is time to raise the ambition level and use AI to revolutionize education, manufacturing, health care, and take welfare to the next level.

“How can we use AI to create a society which really truly flourishes in all senses of the word? I’d really like to see Sweden lead the way here,” he says.

He underscores that AI and technology can be used for better or for worse.

“AI is not evil. Technology is not evil. But technology is also not good. It’s neutral. It’s like fire. Is it good or is it evil? Are you for fire or are you against fire?”

A narrow intelligence

Today machines has a very narrow intelligence, Max Tegmark explains.

“They can be very good at multiplying numbers or remember big databases or do more sophisticated things like diagnosis of prostate cancer. But it is all very narrow things.”

This will change over time, Max Tegmark stresses. There will come a future when we have a higher level of Artificial Intelligence or even a superintelligence that is way beyond what we have seen today.

“I don’t think it matters for planning if it happens sooner or later, but it will happen. And we have to start preparing,” says Max Tegmark and points out several questions we as humans have to deal with.

“How do we teach the machines right from wrong? How do we make machines understand our goals? How do we make sure that they are not buggy and hackable, but trustworthy? Some of these questions are so hard so we have to start that research now.”

“There is so much more opportunities on this planet with AI. Why should we have people that are starving? Or incurable cancer? There is nothing like incurable, it is just that we have not been smart enough to figure out how we could cure it yet. Or climate change, undoubtedly technology can help us with solutions, says Max Tegmark, before he ends the talk and hurries away to another session at the conference.


Text by: Mikael Hansson

Photographer: Mikael Hansson

Published: 15 November, 2018



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Mikael Hansson

Mikael Hansson

15 November, 2018