Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Making minds that won't destroy us

Editor's note: Michael Vassar gives a credible argument in this essay that artificial minds are possible, are coming, and should be designed to care about human wellbeing from the start, because we will have only one chance to get it right.

Forbes - The AI Report - Machine Minds: Let's get artificial intelligence right the first time.

June 22, 2009, by Michael Vassar

Are you in a city? If so, may I ask you to look around? Almost everything you see was created deliberately. Human minds built theories and implemented plans. Due to these plans, rocks were gathered, shaped and rearranged. You call some of these rocks your house. The main things that weren't created deliberately are the minds themselves.

Animals to which humans are indifferent often lose their habitats and go extinct. If an indifferent superintelligence is created, especially if it is created as software and can therefore reproduce very rapidly, humans will be similarly endangered.

Humans are primarily natural, not designed. Human culture shapes personal development, but on an absolute scale culture permits only a very narrow range of possibilities. A human can be raised to be an Inca, a teacher or a psychoanalyst. More careful upbringing and good luck can produce a Mozart, an Einstein or a Julius Caesar, but never a dolphin, a raven or an elephant. Michael Phelps is astounding for a human, but a dolphin can cross an Olympic pool in seconds.

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