Media discussion of 2016 ESPAI

The 2016 Expert Survey on Progress in AI was discussed in at least 20 media outlets, popular blogs, and industry-specific sites that we know of. Most of them were summaries of the survey findings. Commonly emphasized details included the difference between Asian and North American estimates, the 5% chance of catastrophically bad outcomes (usually described as low), and likely effects on the economy in the event of widespread automation.

List of media mentions

  1. Newsweek: A major general news outlet. Listed many shorter-term estimates from the survey, and discussed practical responses to inevitable automation, such as universal basic income.
  2. Yahoo: A major general news outlet. Cautiously reported the survey’s predictions, with the caveat that predictions about distant technology are often not very precise. Mentioned policy recommendations from Katja.
  3. BBC: A major British news channel. Described the current state of AI’s capabilities, including a detailed summary of modern clothes-folding robots. Discussed the survey’s predictions in this context. (Reposted by OECD Forum.)
  4. Daily Mail: A major British news outlet. Summarized the study, paying special attention to number of years estimated for AI to overtake humans on specific tasks. Considered the 5% chance of a catastrophically bad outcome to be relatively good news.
  5. MIT Technology Review: A technology review at MIT. Offered a critical review of the survey’s results, including the theory that ‘40 years’ can be a red flag in terms of estimates, because it can symbolize the approximate end of a surveyed person’s working life. (We do not find evidence to support this theory.) (Reposted by Business Insider.)
  6. Business Insider: The second article from about the AI survey from this major business news outlet. Summarized the study findings, including a graph showing estimated times that AI will overtake humans at a wide range of tasks.
  7. Daily Kos: A highly prominent American liberal group blog. Provided an in-depth summary of the survey, its political ramifications, and potential solutions to the problem of massively increased automation in the workforce.
  8. ZDNet: A business technology news website. Reported the study’s findings, with special emphasis into the case of Go, and the mitigating circumstances of AlphaGo’s win – AlphaGo had played many more games than any human opponent, while the survey question about Go included the assumption that the human and AI players would have played an equal number of practice games. Included a brief summary video.
  9. The Register: A British tech publication. Mentioned both predictions from the survey and the high variance between estimates, including specifically named researchers.
  10. Leading Britain’s Conversation: A blog by Nick Abbot, a presenter for a British radio station. Covered the study’s results in a humorous, informal tone.
  11. Tech Republic: A technology blog. Described the survey findings in detail, including a video. Included three takeaways at the end: that there is a 50% chance of AI exceeding human capability at all jobs within 45 years, that there is a 50% chance of AI automating all jobs within 122 years, and that global catastrophic risk is possible from AI and should be guarded against.
  12. Daily News and Analysis: An Indian news source. Addressed the practical needs for India to modernize its jobs and stay ahead of the curve as AI makes current jobs obsolete.
  13. CTV News: A Canadian news outlet. Listed estimates for AI to beat humans at a range of specific tasks, and briefly summarized the chances for AI’s overall impact to be good or bad.
  14. 2OceansVibe: A large solely owned South African media site. Described the study in detail, including a note on which sorts of jobs may not be automated even though they could be. (Reposted by Nigeria Today.)
  15. Tekniikan Maailma: A Finnish technology news source. Focused on the predicted 5% chance of a catastrophic outcome as good news, and went into detail on reasons why AI might not be too dangerous – including that any given current AI’s capacities are very specific. Also touched on possibilities for transhumanism involving AI.
  16. New Scientist: A significant science news site. Noted the high chance of major social impact, but considered the 5% chance of catastrophic outcomes less alarming. Focused somewhat on recent achievements of AI, as well as future projections. Included a brief summary video.
  17. Slate Star Codex: A popular blog which frequently posts about AI. Emphasized the high variance between surveyed opinions, and the fact that many prominent AI researchers now support AI safety research.
  18. Slator: A linguistics industry website. Mentioned the survey’s predictions with respect to language translation specifically.
  19. Fossbytes: A general technology blog. Reported the survey’s findings in brief.
  20. Tech XPlore: An outlet for science writing. A lengthy, technical summary of the survey, which gave special notice to the difference between Asian and North American responses.
  21. Nature World News: A general natural sciences website. Mentioned the survey’s results, as well as Elon Musk’s belief in a faster AI timeline.
  22. Axios: An online media outlet with a “Future of Work” section. Described the study in brief, with emphasis on the risks entailed by AI ascendance.
  23. Human Cusp: A blog focusing on possibilities for superintelligent AI. Touched on the special case of Go, and how AI in fact surpassed humans much faster than AI researchers predicted.


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