A few years back Bill Joy was sounding the alarm on nanotechnology. He sounded a lot like Elon Musk does today. Nanobots could be a run-away technology that would reduce the world to "grey goo". But nothing like that will ever happen. The world is already awash in nanobots. We call them bacteria. Given the right conditions, they grow at an exponential rate. But they don't consume the entire earth in a couple of days, because "the right conditions" can't be sustained. They run out of energy. They drown in their own waste.
AI will be the same. Yes, machines are better than us at some things, and that list is growing all the time. But biology is ferociously good at converting sunlight into pockets of low entropy. AI such as it exists today is terrible at dealing with the physical world, and only through a tremendous amount of effort are we able to keep it running. If the machines turn on us, we can just stop repairing them.
Solar panels can collect more energy than photosynthesis. Planes can fly faster than any bird. Guns are far more effective than any animal's weapons. Steam engines can run more efficiently than biological digestion. And we can get power from fuel sources biology doesn't touch, like fossil fuels or nuclear.
We conquered the macro world before we even invented electricity. Now we are just starting to conquer the micro world.
But AI is far more dangerous. It would take many many decades - perhaps centuries - of work to advance to that level. It's probably possible to build grey goo, it's just not easy or near. However AI could be much closer given the rapid rate of progress.
If you make an unfriendly AI, you can't just shut it off. It could spread it's source code through the internet. And it won't tell you that it's dangerous. It will pretend to be benevolent until it no longer needs you.
A gun isn't effective unless human loads it, aims it and pulls the trigger. All your other examples are the same. We do not have any machine that can build a copy of its self, even with infinite energy and raw materials just lying around nearby. Now consider what an "intelligent" machine looks like today: a datacenter with 100,000 servers, consuming a GW of power and constantly being repaired by humans. AI is nowhere near not needing us.
Never understood this reasoning.
We are not talking about machines vs. biologic life, this is a false dichotomy. We are talking about intelligence.
Intelligence is the ability to control the environment through the understanding of it. Any solvable problem can be solved with enough intelligence.
Repairing a machine is just a problem. The only limitations for intelligence are the laws of physic.
Maybe, but not necessarily, and even if they do "drown in their own waste" they might take a lot of others with them. When cyanobacteria appeared, the oxygen they produced killed off most other species on the planet at the time . The cyanobacteria themselves are still around and doing fine.