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WHEN a powerful new technology comes around, people often split into two camps: those captivated by its benefits and those worried by the trouble it could unleash. This has happened with everything from knitting machines in the 16th century to artificial intelligence today.

It is, of course, a false dichotomy. As physicist and artificial intelligence researcher Max Tegmark put it in this magazine: “Are you the kind of person who thinks fire can kill people or the sort of person who thinks that fire can keep people warm in the winter? Both things are true, obviously.” (18 July 2020)

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