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Henry Kissinger Warns That AI Will Fundamentally Alter Human Consciousness

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speaking to an audience in Washington, D.C., on November 5, 2019.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said hes not arguing against AI and that its something that might even save us, without elaborating on the details.

Credit: DVIDS

Speaking in Washington, D.C. yesterday, former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger said he's convinced of AI's potential to fundamentally alter human consciousness—including changes in our self-perception and to our strategic decision-making. He also slammed AI developers for insufficiently thinking through the implications of their creations.

Kissinger, now 96, was speaking to an audience attending the "Strength Through Innovation" conference being held at the Liaison Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference is being run by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which was set up by Congress to evaluate the future of AI in the U.S. as it pertains to national security.

Kissinger, who served under President Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War, is a controversial figure who many argue is an unconvicted war criminal. That he's speaking at conferences and not spending his later years in a cold jail cell is understandably offensive to some observers.

"I've become convinced that AI and the surrounding disciplines are going to bring a change in human consciousness, like the Enlightenment."

Moderator Nadia Schadlow, who in 2018 served in the Trump administration as the Assistant to the President and as Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, asked Kissinger about his take on powerful, militarized artificial intelligence and how it might affect global security and strategic decision-making.

"I don't look at it as a technical person," said Kissinger. "I am concerned with the historical, philosophical, strategic aspect of it, and I've become convinced that AI and the surrounding disciplines are going to bring a change in human consciousness, like the Enlightenment," he said, adding: "That's why I'm here." His invocation of the 18th-century European Enlightenment was a reference to the paradigmatic intellectual shift that occurred during this important historical period, in which science, rationalism, and humanism largely replaced religious and faith-based thinking.


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