Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why You Should Stop Worrying and Learn to Love AI

dr. strangelove

Anyone who has an interest in technology news should be able to see that artificial general intelligence (AGI) is inevitable. The forces that are driving technology toward that conclusion are enormously powerful; I am referring now to military and commercial interests. Just as the fundamental equations behind biological evolution through natural selection have resulted in human consciousness and intelligence, so the insatiable appetites of industry and combat for a better mousetrap must lead us down the garden path to conscious machines.

One has only to skim the science and technology news on a regular basis to conclude that, barring the near term ending of the world as we know it, a machine that harbors within its circuitry a mind, cannot be very far down the road. Take these excerpts for example:
Researchers at the University of Arizona in Tucson have now begun work on a set of computer algorithms that may be able to make sense of mountains of intelligence data that would overwhelm human analysts. Known as the Asymmetric Threat Response and Analysis Project, or ATRAP, the effort is aimed at dispassionately sifting through everything from fingerprints to cultural influences to establish useful links and connections. Full article.

By studying the famous honeybee waggle dance that communicates the location of top-notch nectar, researchers have designed a more efficient server system that also benefits Web surfers by cutting down on frustrating delays in accessing newly popular sites. Initial tests by collaborators at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the United Kingdom’s University of Oxford showed that the bee-like way of homing in on sweet spots improved a Web-hosting company’s revenue by up to 20 percent. Full article.
There is nothing in these articles that will cause anyone to enjoy a spike in their endorphin levels, but they simply demonstrate the relentless drive of the military and commercial forces of our society to make machines smarter and to get them to do more of our rudimentary thinking for us. No use crying about it, about how terrible this might be, because it will continue, and it will lead inexorably to conscious machines. So my advice is, stop worrying about whether or not we will soon be faced with AGI, and instead focus your energy on making sure when they arrive, they will like us.

There are researchers and organizations that understand the inevitability of AGI and that are working hard to figure out how to make it friendly. Either that or how to make humans and AGIs one and the same thing. Unfortunately, these guys are working with very limited resources, because most people have no clue about what is going on or where we are headed. If you would like to climb out from among the head-in-the-sand crowd, check out the following links:

Accelerating Future

Singularity Institute

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