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Climate Change & Artificial Intelligence


Artificial Intelligence is gaining tremendous momentum, a development that has caused some experts like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak to warn that AI development should at least be paused. We’re going to explore that today on the Lean to the Left podcast with Tom Riley, a retired NASA instrument engineer and prolific author who believes AI offers tremendous potential for the world. In fact, he says climate change & artificial intelligence are a good fit.


In an open letter released in April, more than 1,000 tech experts called for AI-labs to “immediately pause for at least six months.” The signatories include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk, among a who’s who of brainiacs who worry that the world is “in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one — not even their creators — can understand, predict or reliably control.”


The letter came from the Future of life Institute, a non-profit determined to steer us away from “extreme large-scale risks.” One researcher, Eliezer Yudkowsky, who has been warning about AI for two decades, says we should “shut it all down.”


Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist and author who died in 2018, put it even more directly, saying: “The development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”


That sounds pretty serious. Sounds like there is more to worry about that whether students are cheating on their term papers by using an AI-app to write those papers for them.


Riley has worked on instruments for the Space Shuttle and NASA satellites, puts all this into perspective.


Here are some questions we discussed with Tom:

1. In a note to me, you said AI was like “dancing on a landslide.” Do these warnings that I just mentioned concern you? Should the rest of us regular people be concerned about the implications of AI?


2. Does AI mean that people will be losing their jobs to AI?


3. What about privacy violations…and deepfakes…like the fake pics of Donald Trump being arrested that received thousands of hits on social media?


4. But what about the good it can do? Like addressing the climate crisis, for example? You wrote a great book, “A Climate of Revenge.”


5. Tell us about your Climate Crisis Stories? There are two books, right? Plus, you have versions on YouTube, right?


6. Is there a movie in the works? Or a Climate Crisis TV series?


7. There still are a lot of climate change deniers out there. What do you think the response to this project would be?


8. Can you give us a taste of the plot? Is the AI character a robot?


9. There are a lot of Misconceptions about our climate crisis. For example, “Greenhouse.” Is that a good explanation?


10. If the major problems are coming on slowly, is this then a real crisis?

11. Q: What other big problems are now clear, and where does AI come into play?


12. How can people find out more about you and your work, including your books?


Listen to the podcast:



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