Editorial: Being Human

2 October 2017 Amy Hetherington

Editorial: Being Human

If our cinematic future is to be believed, we are all doomed. Actually, some weeks the news headlines don’t do much to assuage those fears; especially in those moments when celluloid sci-fi and reality seem to merge into one.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk and Russia’s President Putin seem an unlikely duo out to save the world. Yet in recent weeks the pair have been crusading to prevent a potential artificial intelligence (AI) apocalypse. They both urge that international cooperation and governance are key to ensure AI aids human survival – rather than destruction.

Their real-world warnings are back-dropped by the return of Ridley Scott’s cult film Blade Runner, a neon-lit dystopia where acid rain falls from polluted skies and Harrison Ford is hunting synthetic humans. The long-awaited sequel again makes us question what it is to be human. What happens when the machines become more human than us humans? Plus…Ryan Gosling.

As we bunker down for the AI revolution, we’ve called in the experts. After all, we already have AI living in our pockets (hello Siri!); and these automated personalities are already being hit on!

Dr Kate Devlin explores the question that dominates any discussion about AI – sex robots. Professor Toby Walsh pinpoints 2062 as the average date many in the field expect machines to be as smart as humans.

The biggest takeaway for me has been that AI helps us to define what it means to be human: social connection and interaction; community and belonging. And a letter from reader Jill Andrews (right) brought that home. In a world where so many more of our transactions are played out online, human connection remains an integral part of what makes The Big Issue so special.

Amy Hetherington, Editor

This article first appeared in Edition #546 of The Big Issue. Get a copy from your vendor today!