Getty Images; Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME
Ideas
September 15, 2015 1:58 PM EDT

I wish I could feel more excitement than dread when I consider the extraordinary AI innovation we will see in the next few decades. I certainly hope this technology helps us to better understand how the human brain works. I hope it remedies disease, poverty, loneliness, and gives us deeper insight into the nature of the Universe. Yet, when I weigh the promise of coming breakthroughs against their historical precedents, our habits as a species aren’t very reassuring.

Nuclear proliferation and anthropogenic climate change have been clear, existential threats for much of the past century, but we haven’t responded to this knowledge by dismantling mankind’s vast, poorly maintained missile stockpiles or making any meaningful efforts to rein in emissions or slow our destruction of crucial ecosystems. Caution and restraint haven’t been hallmarks of our behavior even when we know we may have opened Pandora’s Box. We’ve hardly needed AI that matches or exceeds our intelligence to endanger our survival.

In a time of widespread armed conflict and cooling relations between the world’s major powers, we should do everything we can to halt the proliferation of weaponized AI, and to prevent whatever we devise from hurting us before it can enlighten us.

Osment is an actor

Contact us at letters@time.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories

EDIT POST