IFSR Newsletter 1984 Vol. 4 No. 1 Spring
IIASA – International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: SHAPING A NEW SOCIETY? SCIENTISTS FORESEE DRAMATIC IMPACTS
Laxenburg, Austria – 17 August 1983 – A new “industrial revolution”, changing societies and profoundly affeCting traditional economic and cultural structures: this could be the result of a new discipline stemming from cybernetics and computer sciences, known as “Artificial Intelligence”.
Conscious planning for the future, however, could make “AI” one of the most beneficial inventions of man.
“Artificial intelligence will most likely trigger a series of events comparable to the industrial revolution”, said Professor Robert Trappl of Vienna University, organizer of a small three-day meeting of world renowned AI researchers held at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg near Vienna. “The introduction of the machine has, over the past 200 years, reduced the demand for physical strength. Now we are moving towards the automation of mental processes and this will have profound effects: it will enable machines to perform many of those human operations currently carried out by a majority of our labor force. It will probably create a huge change in employment and employment structures. If we want to fully benefit from AI’s potential and avoid repercussions, we need to start concious planning for the future now”, he said. Added Professor Margaret Boden of Sussex University: “In the long run, AI could turn out to be for the Western civilization what the mango-tree was for Polynesian society: a resource enabling man to concentrate on the cultural and philosophical aspects of life. The point of our meeting here at IIASA is to take stock of recent developments and to try to assess what will happen in the next ten years and what appears to be the most pressing necessities in the field of AI”.
As the researchers stressed at this meeting, one of the most immediate requirements would be increased activities in the field of Artificial Intelligence in Europe: “There is the danger that Europe will not keep up with developments in the US and Japan,” said Professor Nils Nilsson of the Artificial Intelligence Center at the SRI California.
“This would lead to a split within·the industrialized world, comparable only to the current North-South gap. Europe would probably never be able to catch up again”, added Professor Stefano Cerri, University of Pisa. In order to avoid such a development the researchers suggested extraordinarily strong efforts, especially in the field of education, for information technology, in Europe as well as in other parts of the world, with special emphasis on Artificial Intelligence. As was pointed out at the meeting, the next decade is likely to be decisive for the advance of AI, and new tools will leave the laboratories and enter the market. “A fast further advance may be predicted,” said Academician Tibor Vamos of the Computer and Automation Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. “As the applications proliferate, cheaper, strictly dedicated and limited recognition and inspection systems are expected to replace many monotonous, not really human workplaces in inspection, selection, simple evaluation, transfer, assembly and other industrial operations such as painting, welding, etc.”
The meeting on “Future and Impacts of Artificial Intelligence”, jointly organized by the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies and IIASA, and supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research, was convened to provide the basis for a major conference to take place in Vienna next year. The proceedings of the current meeting are expected to be published with North Holland, Amsterdam, Fall 1984. Editor: R. Trapp!.
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is a research organization supported by scientific institutions from both East and West, such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (USA) and the USSR Academy of Sciences. The Institute, based in Laxenburg, Austria (near Vienna), was founded in October 1972 to promote international collaboration by bringing together scientists from different disciplines, cultures, and nationalities to work on problems of concern to mankind.
IFSR Newsletter 1984 Vol. 4 No. 1 Spring