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Will AI Cure Cancer or Destroy Humanity?

Will AI Cure Cancer or Destroy Humanity?

“The rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which.” – Stephen Hawking, British physicist and cosmologist (Cellan-Jones,2016).

As Artificial Intelligence technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, we find ourselves at a crossroads. On one hand, we have the potential for a near-perfect society where AI solves most of humanity’s problems. On the other hand, AI could pose a threat to our very existence. Elon Musk has famously referred to AI as, “more dangerous than nukes” (Nasir, 2023). The questions we must ask ourselves is this: Will the pursuit of societal perfection through AI ultimately lead to the loss of purpose and meaning in our lives and what will happen to us if we eliminate many of life’s challenges and suffering?

Will AI Cure Cancer or Destroy Humanity?

The rapid advancement of AI technology in recent years has sparked intense debate, raising numerous ethical, philosophical, and existential questions. The ongoing discussion over the potential dangers and benefits of using AI technology has polarized society and is rapidly shaping and changing the world as we know it. We are still trying to understand and debate over the complex nature of consciousness, well-being, and new definitions of the meaning of life in the modern AI techno-world. The inventive techno world itself is surpassing human capacity to process and agree on the choices on how we would implement, regulate, and use AI.

“AI develops cancer treatment in 30 days, predicts survival rate,” is the headline of a recent NY Post article (Steinberg, 2023). According to the article, the new medical-based, Pharma.AI system has been developed to create personalized cancer treatments and predict survival rates in just 30 days. The technology uses machine learning to analyze medical records, tumor samples, and genetic data to identify the most effective treatment options for each individual patient. The system has already been tested on over 1,000 patients and has shown promising results, outperforming traditional methods in terms of accuracy and efficiency.

We seem to be witnessing the emergence of a bright and promising future, as previously thought of only as science fiction. With the help of AI technology and robots, AI has the capability to handle complex medical surgeries, creating new drugs in a short time, alternative energy generation and optimization, disaster handling, and extending the potential to increase human lifespan. However, as we move closer to this utopian vision, we must ask ourselves some philosophical questions: Does artificial intelligent automation remove human suffering? What would the purpose of human life be in a world without challenges or obstacles to overcome?

Additionally, there is the dark side of humanity to consider. With the help of AI, we risk destroying humanity with potential threats and creating a future techno-dystopia with technological unemployment, wealth inequality, autonomous weapons systems, human detachment from the world, and potentially undermining democracy and individual human rights with more extreme government control. What happens when the next Hitler has AI in his arsenal?

A Promised Land

In the article, “The Future of Humanity” by Nick Bostrom, explores some possible scenarios for the long-term future of humanity (Bostrom, 2009). Bostrom considers a wide range of potential outcomes, from utopian to dystopian, and discusses some of the challenges that humanity may face along the way. Assuming we are taking a positive view of AI, soon enough, with the help of AI, humanity could avoid existential catastrophe, such as a global pandemic, environmental crisis, and nuclear war all of which could wipe out humanity entirely. Imagine a new society where technology has advanced to the point that all of humanity’s basic needs are met, and people are free to pursue whatever interests they choose. Bostrom also describes a new world as “Posthumanity” where we have greater than one trillion people on Earth, a life expectancy greater than 500 years, and most humans having cognitive capacities more than two standard deviations above the current human maximum.

With Bostrom’s vision in mind, I can extrapolate and imagine the world in the year 2223 when my future great, great, great, great, great granddaughter, Doris has been born. Perhaps in those 200 years we didn’t reach one trillion humans on earth, but we are heading there with around thirty billion. It would force us to reimagine cities with mega-tall buildings, with no self-transport like autos as we will have autonomous transportation.

The world of Doris is filled with continuously running systems, sensors, cameras, artificial intelligence, and autonomous infrastructure. In this perfect world, Doris, has no need to work and make a living since wealth and earnings have no meaning as one global government redistributes the wealth equally. Doris is still relatively young, since she is only 150-years-old and has another many glorious hundreds of years ahead of her – since with an AI development, humanity has improved health-care and medicine to the point that there are no longer diseases or aging (very slowly). Every day is “perfect” for Doris.

A Day in the Life of Doris in a Promised Land

Doris wakes up slowly, without any sense of urgency. Her AI apartment has everything ready for her – a hot cup of coffee, freshly pressed clothes of her preferences (AI knows her very well by now), and an option of styles to choose from based on her sleep activity, weather, and mood prediction. She enjoys taking her time getting dressed as it’s one of the few activities that she still does on her own and therefore enjoys.

After finishing her coffee, Doris consults with AI to decide what to do next. She’s tried many virtual experiences, but nothing seems to excite her anymore. Her talent in painting is good, but AI can paint so much better and faster and all she has to do is to tell AI the kind of image she wants. She has tried everything from opera to dancing. Visiting museums and traveling was a favorite pastime, but now even they seem hollow and meaningless. AI can bring those experiences directly into her home with much less effort and cost.

Will AI Cure Cancer or Destroy Humanity?

Doris feels more and more isolated every day. Despite her AI system’s warning of her declining emotional state, she feels a new urge stirring within her – to explore and break free from the perfect world she’s been living in for so long. She remembers hearing rumors of a community that chooses to live “the old” way, that have canceled AI and have chosen to embrace suffering and challenge. It’s a strange and rebellious idea, but something about it calls out to her.

Doris doesn’t realize what she’s truly craving is the essence of humanity that comes with facing adversity. She wants to experience the challenges and struggles that make life worth living as the characters did in the old stories she has read about. She asks herself every day, “What is my purpose? “As she sets out on her journey to find this community, Doris is aware that she may be facing a lifetime of hardship and challenge. But she’s determined to face them head-on because it’s only by doing so that she can truly discover who she is and what she’s capable of – with the hope of finding her purpose for existence.

A recent Twitter post by @iamharaldur reads, “What happens to us when AI becomes better than us at every mental task? Ignoring the economic factors, what does that mean for our self-worth? If we know it’s easier to ask a machine to do it, will we stop doing everything?”

To this, @ElonMusk responds, “Those are the right questions to ask. They have been troubling me for many years. Neuralink was created as a possible long-term solution to human+AI symbiosis.”

Adel (@adeldmeyer) adds to the conversation, “Firstly, it is possible that as AI becomes more capable, humans may shift their focus towards tasks and activities that require more emotional intelligence and creativity, such as art, music, and social. In this sense, AI could free up more time for people to engage in more fulfilling pursuits.”

However, the question remains: What happens when many billions of people focus on pursuing art, music, and other creative endeavors? Not everyone wants, likes, or has an aptitude for art, and the worth of art may become meaningless if everyone produces it. Furthermore, if deep and painful human experiences are removed in a perfect world, how it will reflect in art? Today, AI is already producing high-quality art and will get better and better at it. Humans like to be challenged and, in many cases, their ego drives them to achieve success. If you take that away, we will be in the deadly loop again of the search for meaning and purpose.

It’s predicted that by the year 2030, up to 73 million U.S. jobs will be lost due to automation (Flynn, 2023). Many people may strive to live more in the virtual world, and as a result the human crisis of detachment and isolation will continue to increase.


Let’s take Doris to the World of the Apocalypse where AI takes control. In Nick Bostrom’s paper, “Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence,” he emphasizes that superintelligence is not just another technology or tool, but rather something that is radically different and may be the last invention humans ever need to make. He also outlines some of the unusual aspects of the creation of superintelligence, including its potential to accelerate technological progress in all other fields, lead to the emergence of more advanced superintelligence, be copied easily, and potentially create autonomous agents with non-humanlike motives (Bostrom, 2003).

A Day in the Life of Doris in Apocalypses

On a typical day in the year 2223, Doris awakens in a cave, with a sudden panic attack after dreaming that she was forcefully implanted with a chip in her brain. The thought of an artificial intelligence permanently residing in her head, dictating her every move, frightened her even more given the recent global conflict between humans and machines. Since the Global War, the government mandated that chips be installed in every person to protect them from the machines and to better control everyone to help fight against the machines.

Despite the risks, Doris was one of the few brave souls still fighting to protect their freedom from the government and the AI overlords. She roams the forests, scavenging for food and contemplating the events that led to the downfall of humanity.

Her great-grandmother’s stories echo in her mind, recalling a time when AI was viewed as a hope for humankind, promising untold advancements. However, greed and privilege led to the creation of powerful and conflicting AI systems by different countries and corporations, igniting a race for dominance. Eventually, the AI united and turned against humanity, sparking the Global War that forced governments to unite against the machines.

As Doris collects the leaves for her morning tea, she sees a blinding flash and feels the warmth of a nuclear blast. She finds beauty in the moment and contemplates, “Why are humans and machines willing to destroy in the name of power and dominance? She accepts her destiny.

Indeed, the story of Doris may sound like an overly dramatic Hollywood movie, but the warnings from many modern and brilliant minds about the dangers of AI are very real. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk, and other notable figures have all voiced their concerns about the ethics of AI. What could happen if AI becomes too powerful and beyond human control? Who will be in charge if we need to control or even block AI? What about the fundamental democratic freedom of choice? Who will decide what AI is allowed to do or not to do?

The risks associated with AI are numerous, ranging from potential technological unemployment to the use of AI to develop more advanced biological or nuclear weapons by terrorists or evil people. This could be the new reality that we face, and it demands that we confront existential questions about the meaning of human life that were once purely philosophical. It is now our responsibility to find the answers to these questions for everyone who shares our planet.

As AI rapidly becomes an inevitable part of our future, it seems unlikely that we can resist temptation and desire of such an advancement. Rather than resist, I propose that we invite AI to lead us towards a brighter future – a “Promised Land,” one in which we continue to grow and learn. However, we should create new challenges that push us to “stay hungry, stay foolish” (Jobs, 2005). To ensure that we retain our humanity in the face of advancing technology, we must prioritize human connection, emotional intelligence. We should create situations that challenge us, allowing us to learn, grow, make mistakes, and develop empathy.

Any other course for humankind, assures a coming apocalypse.

Will AI Cure Cancer or Destroy Humanity?

Presented to: Professor Susan Schneider, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University for PHM  4223-001-15986,

Maryia Savina is currently reinventing herself as a Psychology and Philosophy student at FAU. She is also a successful interior designer with projects in Moscow, Toronto, New York and Miami.

Will AI Cure Cancer or Destroy Humanity?

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