I recently offered a former colleague, the founder of an artificial intelligence start-up, some unsolicited advice. Congratulating him on the birth of his first child, as the father of two teenage boys I confidently said: “Babies aren’t like the robots you’re used to raising. They enter this world with a certain nature, and that’s essentially who they remain throughout life.” The words were scarcely out of my mouth when Mary Poppins deftly piloted her umbrella to a firm landing inside my head and took me to task. Underestimating the power of nurture calls into question the power of good or bad parents (and nannies) to change the course of their children’s lives. Upbringing can help determine whether you end up with a brat or a brainiac. As we look towards a future with AI, what you end up with will depend on what we teach them, as Ms Poppins would insist is the case with our children. You could as easily end up with AS (artificial stupidity) as you could with AI. No personality, no ...

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