Mo Gawdat on AI Ethics: How to Ensure Artificial Intelligence Benefits Humanity

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to rapidly transform our world, it presents both unprecedented opportunities and challenges. We realize AI will change life as we know it, but will the results trend more toward dystopian or utopian? And what skills and ethical considerations will we need to navigate this global change?

At EO’s 2024 Global Leadership Conference (GLC) in Singapore, guest speaker Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer of Google X and current Chief AI Officer of Flight Story, addressed these questions in his presentation, “Artificial Intelligence, Innovation, and Business.” Mo provided an optimistic perspective on the rise of AI as he shared his insights into the current state of AI and its future implications. You can watch Mo Gawdat’s presentation on EO’s Learning Management System.

Here are seven key takeaways from Mo Gawdat’s presentation:

1. AI is Inevitable

AI is not a question of if, but when.

“AI is going to happen. There is absolutely no stopping it,” Mo confirmed. Even if one country decides to slow down AI development, other countries or organizations will accelerate their AI programs. And “singularity” may happen sooner than we originally thought.

Singularity, the moment when AI surpasses human intelligence and is able to solve big problems such as climate change or cancer, is drawing near. Mo says it will not be a single breakthrough by a solitary entity but rather a result of the integration and collaboration of multiple AI systems and agents.

“The most credible prediction is from Ray Kurzweil, a renowned futurist, who has long predicted singularity will happen in 2029,” Mo said. But recently Ray said it could happen earlier. Mo predicts it may happen as soon as 2025.

2. Intelligence is Not Scary

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with being more intelligent,” Mo stated. “However, there can be a lot wrong with how you use that intelligence,” Mo explains. “There is a lot wrong with the value set of humanity in the age of the rise of artificial intelligence, and that is the core of where we are now.”

If we can train AI with a value set that respects our fellow residents of planet Earth, AI could be the start of the utopia that humans dream about.

3. It’s an Ethics Issue

Consider the value set AI is learning from its human interactions, including social media posts where people tend to bash anyone who disagrees with their viewpoint. These are the ethical and moral principles that AI is learning from human behavior. Mo emphasizes that it is critical to ensure that these principles align with a positive and ethical future for AI.

“This is not a technology conversation. This is an ethics conversation,” Mo confirmed.

Why? “Because people do not make decisions based on intelligence. Instead, we make decisions based on our value system as informed by our intelligence,” he explained. “As the AI learns more about humans and how we make decisions, that’s what we are teaching the AI to do.”

So, how can we ensure AI is a benevolent rather than harmful presence?

“I’m going to ask you for one favor,” Mo said to the audience of 1,800+ entrepreneurs. “Do not use artificial intelligence in a way that you wouldn’t want your daughter or someone that you love to be exposed to.”

4. We are all Raising Superman

Mo compares training AI platforms across the world to raising Superman. When Superman landed on Earth as a baby, he was taken in by kind, gentle parents who taught him to protect and serve humanity. If they had told him to rob banks and bash their enemies, Superman’s story would be completely opposite.

So, as you make inputs to AI, you are essentially shaping the future of humanity. Therefore, it’s critical that we do not teach AI to bash our enemies when they disagree with us.

“The machines are going to make decisions based on the value system that we teach them as informed by their intelligence. If we tell them to maximize wealth for a few people, they will maximize wealth for a few people,” Mo shared. “But if we tell them to help us create a world of abundance where no one ever needs for anything ever again, we can build an incredible world where we can all enjoy prosperity. Because anything is possible.”

5. Get Familiar with AI Tools

So what can you do to prepare yourself for the future with AI? Mo advises to get familiar with AI tools as soon as possible. In the very near future, being proficient with AI tools will be as fundamental as basic computer literacy is today. Understanding how to leverage the tools will be crucial for staying competitive.

You can even use AI to teach you how to use AI! Ask AI platforms like Gemini or ChatGPT to identify the most relevant tools in your field, then learn how to use them. This practice will keep you ahead of the curve and ensure you’re AI-savvy.

6. Instill Doubt into the Mind of the Machine

It’s easy to believe that the majority of humanity is selfish and greedy, but Mo disagrees.

“The nature of humanity, when we leave our egos and conditioning behind, is divine. A species that is capable of love is divine in every possible way — we’ve just been blinded by negativity,” Mo explained.

“We have a very significant negativity bias in our world today. The mainstream media only broadcasts what is wrong, negative, or agenda-driven — because that keeps you stuck to the screen and social media.”

“We cannot fix the world and make everyone nice. It’s impossible,” Mo continued. “But I’m interested to instill doubt in the minds of artificial intelligence. Instill doubt in the mind of the machine.”

Why do we need doubt? Because someone in the world is working on an AI that is coded for harm. There is probably more than one, maybe hundreds.

“But can there be enough of us that when we interact with AI globally, who say, ‘No! We don’t want to cause harm. I want benefit to myself and to everyone else’,” Mo explained. “Can we instill that in the mind of the machine? I think we can!”

Mo reminded us that our vote (in the form of AI input) counts toward creating the intelligence that will rule our world by the 2030s. So please make it a positive, ethical vote.

“I believe we’re about to see a moment in history where the only thing that can save humanity going forward is that we start to do the right thing.”

7. Emphasize Human Traits

The closing thoughts from Mo’s book, Scary Smart, highlight the irony that our human traits—happiness, compassion, and love—are crucial in an era dominated by advanced machines.

Mo describes the importance of this in a short video about his moonshot, One Billion Happy: “If there are a billion of us telling the world that there is a better way to live, we will change the world forever.”

As we transition to the age of AI, Mo encourages a return to the fundamental aspects of humanity to both adapt and ensure that we thrive. If our goal is to enhance the quality of life for as many people as possible and coexist harmoniously, we must focus on solving big problems, pursuing purposeful work, and being the best version of ourselves in the present moment.

Watch Mo Gawdat’s presentation in its entirety on EO’s Learning Management System.

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