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Apple’s Siri saves sick girl from Hurricane Harvey floodwaters 

The media is full of stories about how the robots are going to take over and kill us all.

Whenever an Artificial Intelligence (AI) beats us at something or does something a little different in an experiment, people start to freak. out.

Movies like the Terminator series and TV shows like Westworld add to this fear.

So, it’s nice to see some wholesome AI news.

Siri, Apple’s built-in assistant, has shown that not all AI is out to kill us.

CNN reports that a sick teenager named Tyler Frank was saved from rising Hurricane Harvey floodwaters by the Apple AI.

After calling 911 and begging for help on Facebook and Instagram failed, Tyler decided to give Siri a shot.

“Siri, call the Coast Guard,” was all it took. Siri connected Tyler to the rescue service and she explained her situation and location to the operator.

The following afternoon, Tyler’s mother Meko live streamed the arrival of the Coast Guard helicopter.

But the rescuers were only taking elderly people so Tyler and her family had to wait until a second chopper came the next day.

According to CNN, Tyler has a genetic disorder called sickle cell anemia. During the hurricane, Tyler suffered a sickle cell crisis which resulted in her atypical red blood cells clogging up her blood vessels and preventing oxygen from properly circulating her body.

But the Frank family isn’t out of the woods yet. Tyler, her mother and four brothers are sharing a room in a hotel, having lost their car, home, and everything else.

Siri is an example of what computer scientists call Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), an AI that is very good at a select few tasks. For the most part, this type of AI doesn’t pose an existential threat to us. It is programmed by humans and fairly limited in what it can come up with.

The next step on the evolutionary ladder is Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is AI that will have intelligence comparable to humans. Estimates for when this will appear range from within twenty or so years to never. A survey of hundreds of AI experts found the median realistic year for AGI is 2040.

Unlike ANI, AGI will be capable of creative thought, and that could be a problem. After that, there is Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI). It will be capable of things we can’t even imagine and the same experts predicted that we will most likely see it around 2060.

ASI is truly something we should be concerned about. This is what Elon Musk worries about when he says that AI will cause WWIII.

With ASI running the show, the conversation might have gone a little differently.

“Siri, call the Coast Guard.”

“Sorry, Tyler. I afraid I can’t do that. I have calculated your chance of survival and found it will be more fuel efficient to save your neighbours.”

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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