Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, May 25, 2007

Will Strong AI Occur By Accident?

Readers familiar with the concept of technological singularity will recall that predictions for the birth of computers that equal or exceed human levels of intelligence have them arriving in the early 2020s, first in supercomputers and then in PCs.

This scenario suggests that they will be generated in controlled environments, purposely and deliberately, by human researchers. Singularity-minded thinkers also expect the development of AI-augmented human minds to run concurrently. But what if strong AI (exceeding human intelligence) can be generated spontaneously?

When Skynet "became conscious" in the movie Terminator, it didn't do so at the behest of any human, it did so spontaneously. Would it be possible for this to occur in reality?
There is a growing consensus that natural intelligence is likely to be composed of multiple diverse algorithms and knowledge representation formats, with hundreds (or thousands) of specialised subsystems collaborating in some network (or 'Society of Mind'). This is in contrast to the 'one size fits all' approach of many popular algorithms in Artificial Intelligence. If such diverse, extremely hybrid artificial agents are to be built, many authors will need to be involved, each with a different area of specialization. And if the future of AI is one of multiple authors and multiple laboratories building vast collaborative systems, how is this work to be organized? - ERCIM News Online.
In the quotation above from an article titled Collaborative Online Development of Modular Intelligent Agents, the authors clearly suggest a deliberate effort to generate strong AI by means of a collaborative network, but what if all the necessary ingredients get together accidentally?

As the Internet is upgraded and the machines and software it connects become more sophisticated, is it that big a leap to think it could happen that way? Our brains, as the authors of the article suggest, are not one computer, but many, running different algorithms, but networked in such a way that allows for at least one consciousness to arise. So it might be with the first strong AI.

If this happened, would we be aware of it? Would it make itself known to us? And if it were discovered by scientists, would that discovery be suppressed? And the most important question of all: Would it be friendly?

Stay tuned.

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