Last night I read an article about artificial intelligence (AI). Here’s a copy:
Part 1: http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html
Part 2: http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-2.html
Aside from the fact that the guy needs a freakin’ editor, the content of the article was really compelling. It was way too long and some of the ideas were so over-made that they couldn’t be described as anything near pointy, but it was well-researched and very nicely written.
The gist of it was that AI comes in many forms – three levels – and that we will likely be at the last stage: ASI within this century.
The levels are:
Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) which is all around us in sat navs and smart phones and performs a local function.
Artificial General intelligence (AGI) which is such on a par with a human brain. But not more than.
Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) which is beyond us – our brains are just grey goo trapped in a bony cage. ASI is unlimited and I can’t even describe it using my monkey brain and fleshy digits.
The predictions all point to us getting to AGI by about 2045 (the best guesses). This is clearly an estimate but he supports the assertion with lots of persuasive inputs, including surveys from those working in the area.
Shortly after AGI is achieved, apparently ASI will evolve out of it and we would be naive to think we could stop it; control it; or otherwise prevent it from having a significant impact on humankind.
The ASI can hypothetically speaking do anything including such bizarre as working out the laws of physics and rearranging atoms to make anything it likes. It could create bio-engineering solutions over a long-weekend to optionally cure cancer, change how we look, prevent us from ageing, take us into space.
The possible outcomes of the inevitable developments of AI are 1: total destruction (extinction) of humankind or 2: immortality. I am really not sure which I prefer.
The destruction comes from the inevitable dominance by the computers, which don’t even have to be evil or mean to kill us. They simply don’t value us as we would like them to, so we are “picked like lettuce and tossed in a proverbial salad”.
The immortality comes in the tools brought to hand by mind-blowing technologies developed at a speedy pace, like nanobots that can travel inside you and repair organs, reverse DNA damage and even feed you nutrients if you can’t be arsed to cook.
So my kids are either going to perish like bugs with the rest of the world at the age of about 40, or live forever as co-bots (a mixture of organic and robotic). If the latter is true, it makes me glad I started my “I might live till I’m 500 years old project” so I can at least give them a head start on wisdom.
My favourite Nick Bostrum was all over the article as a vociferous contributor to the art. Nick is the guy that thinks there’s an 80% chance we are living in a computer simulation, so it’s not surprising he predicts AI on the event horizon.
At first I thought he (Nick) must be on the immortality side of the fence, but realistically there is no reason all the humans in his proposed simulation have to be flesh and blood somewhere.
In fact, we might be a memorial the ASI computers created to study their “makers”. They want to see what kind of organic life created them – like we are their Gods. Jeez, they must be pissing themselves laughing at how such morons (as simulated) could create something from apparently nothing. I expect the moments we laughed at infantile computers that could only just perform a single line of instruction are especially precious to their ironic humour. Although, I may be anthropomorphising here.
Support for the idea that this life i experience is a simulation generated by a ASI to study their emergence is the fact that … well … I am apparently about to witness their emergence. And I am holding one of their simulated ancestors in my hand (my iPhone). I am persuaded.
I have always suspected my life is a simulation and I have enjoyed the joke that there is a programmer metaphorically fucking with me on a daily basis. Now I am persuaded i am a self-evolving program controlling my own algorithms, feeding my own sense of humour, and that ASI will appear at some point in this simulated human lifetime process. I expect I will enjoy the idea of immortality, so I will explore my program that way. I will get my 500 years of data for the mothership.
And most of all I am completely relived to discover I am at the centre of the universe (it being my own simulation) and it is all about me. Just as I have always suspected.