Marr: Artificial intelligence is a clever monkey that we need to be worried about

6 June 2023, 18:12 | Updated: 25 July 2023, 11:50

Andrew Marr explains why we should be worried about AI

By Will Taylor

AI is already in your home - and this "clever monkey" is something we need to worry about, Andrew Marr has said.

Speaking at the start of Tonight With Andrew Marr, he said he had spoken to a former defence secretary who compared AI systems to psychopaths.

And Andrew tried to sum up just why artificial intelligence is a topic of concern.

He said: "Unless you've spent the last few weeks upside down in a wheelie bin you have heard a lot about AI recently - about how it's going to destroy our civilisation, or save it, or something or other, but you've gathered that it's very, very important.

"Rishi Sunak is popping over to see Joe Biden in Washington this week to talk about regulating AI. But if you're wondering: ok, but what, really, is artificial intelligence? What are they yattering on about? You're not alone.

"It's a form of computerised intelligence that learns stuff by itself. But as with a lot of complicated things, what we really need is a metaphor.

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"So... AI is an enormous, very clever monkey. You invite it into your home and you teach it how to make breakfast, wash the clothes, clean the carpets and even look after all the boring stuff in your inbox.

"Think of that wonderful free time the Clever Monkey gives you. It's been told to look after your happiness and it's doing really well.

"Then the monkey decides that your toast and marmalade for breakfast is bad for your health so it starts to give you muesli. It thinks you look shabby in your much loved old breeks and jacket and so it quietly bins them.

"Pretty soon it looks as if Clever Monkey, still friendly, still looking out for your interests, is in fact in charge. Clever Monkey realises you don't much like your next door neighbour - so Clever Monkey pops over the hedge, breaks his jaw and sets fire to his living room.

"You're looking a bit worried so clever monkey mashes up some opioid drugs he's bought down the canal and feeds them to you in your evening cocoa.

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"Friendly Clever Monkey realises you're a little lazy as well and so quite soon, he's doing your job - almost whatever it is - much better than you ever did.

"By now, of course, he's been through your inbox, found a way to dodge paying your taxes, and transferred all your savings into the Friendly Monkey peanuts and banana account - because he also knows that for you to be happy, Friendly Monkey must be happy as well.

"Now you may think that's just a silly story but it's my best go at trying to explain why artificial intelligence is something we need to worry about.

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"Have you invited and the monkey into your home? Well, pretty soon he's in your smartphone, your TV, your computer. He's at your workplace.

"He's bringing lots of stuff into your social media. So frankly, yes, the Clever Monkey is already in your home.

"I bumped into Lord Reid, John Reid, the former Labour Defence secretary and home secretary in the street a couple of hours ago, And he's been thinking about this as well and he told me: 'What we're doing is creating an intelligence which is far smarter than we are except in one thing - because it's a machine it has no empathy.'

"And what do we call a very smart operator with no empathy, he asked? We call it a psychopath."