The Coming Wave

By Mustafa Suleyman

For better or worse, AI is going to change the world, and it will happen much sooner than we think. AI and other technological advancements have the potential to cause monumental shifts in the way we live our lives. The author frequently reiterates the importance of containing these revolutionary technologies. He is not a techno-pessimist per se—he is simply very realistic about the dangers of a future where such powerful technology is in the hands of laypeople.

Imagine a world where DNA synthesis is affordable for the average citizen and we all have access to super-intelligences at will. It would only take one deranged psychopath, willing to cause tremendous damage, to kill millions, if not billions, by creating a deadly virus in their basement.

We worry about nuclear armageddon, as we rightly should. However, such weapons are incredibly difficult to manufacture. Consider the engineering required to create a nuclear missile: extracting, processing, and enriching uranium is insanely difficult. In contrast, someone with several thousand dollars can purchase a DNA synthesiser. With enough drive and willingness to cause harm, they could theoretically kill billions by creating a deadly pathogen.

I am a techno-optimist at heart. I see the benefits that AI and other advanced technologies can bring to our society in the future. However, this book makes it very clear that without proper regulation and containment, these technologies could cause serious harm to our societies.