( A six-minute evolutionary read)
It took billions of years to go from the first tiny DNA replicators to Homo Sapiens.
It hit you pretty quickly that what’s happening in the world of AI is not just an important topic, but by far THE most important topic for our future.
Our long-term evolutionary success is still to be determined.
When you ask the question is our human intelligence in any way the current peak of evolutionary progress. You also have to ask what is the nature of evolution?
It can not is no longer be that the process of evolution’s only “goal” seems to be self-propagation.
Because: Technologies already exist which allow genomic selection of embryos during in vitro fertilization—an embryo’s DNA can be sequenced from a single extracted cell. Recent advances such as CRISPR allow highly targeted editing of genomes, and will eventually find their uses in human reproduction.
Because: Artificial Intelligence and Technology like Deep Learning are changing the way we are looking at evolution. It’s no longer a process with a definite goal or even an endpoint.
Because: We may already be running into the genetic limits of intelligence.
The potential for improved human intelligence is enormous. Smarter people and smarter machines—will inevitably intersect.
Naively, one would expect the rate of advance of machine intelligence to outstrip that of biological intelligence. Tinkering with a machine seems easier than modifying a living species, one generation at a time. But advances in genomics—both in our ability to relate complex traits to the underlying genetic codes, and the ability to make direct edits to genomes—will allow rapid advances in biologically-based cognition.
So will AI or genetic modification have the greater impact in the year 2050?
The answer is both.
The feedback loop between algorithms and genomes will result in a rich and complex world, with myriad types of intelligences at play: the ordinary human (rapidly losing the ability to comprehend what is going on around them); the enhanced human (the driver of change over the next 100 years, but perhaps eventually surpassed); and all around them vast machine intellects, some alien (evolved completely in silico) and some strangely familiar (hybrids).
Considering one without the other neglects an important interaction.
Researchers have recently linked mouse and monkey brains together, allowing the animals to collaborate—via an electronic connection—to solve problems.
This is just the beginning of “shared thought.
Better human minds invent better machine learning methods, which in turn accelerate our ability to improve human DNA and create even better minds.
Rather than the standard science-fiction scenario of relatively unchanged, familiar humans interacting with ever-improving computer minds, means we will experience a future with a diversity of both human and machine intelligences.
For the first time, sentient beings of many different types will interact collaboratively to create ever greater advances, both through standard forms of communication and through new technologies allowing brain interfaces.
We may even see human minds uploaded into cyberspace, with further hybridization to follow in the purely virtual realm. These uploaded minds could combine with artificial algorithms and structures to produce an unknowable but humanlike consciousness.
It may seem incredible, or even disturbing, to predict that ordinary humans will lose touch with the most consequential developments on planet Earth, developments that determine the ultimate fate of our civilization and species.
Or will it be that we will augment or brains with AI.
Today, no more than a fraction of a percent of the population has a good understanding of quantum physics, although it underlies many of our most important technologies:
Some have estimated that 10-30 percent of modern gross domestic product is based on quantum mechanics. In the same way, ordinary humans of the future will come to accept machine intelligence as everyday technological magic, like the flat screen TV or smart phone, but with no deeper understanding of how it is possible.
AI will be a disaster for humanity…there is no doubt about it...unless (and this is a small hope) that humans start to treat each other with love and dignity, and that would take a (potentially biological) change in human nature itself which only highly controversial genetic engineering might muster.
Our ability to destroy anything we want to destroy will have to be removed.
It might be nice to fantasize about a star trek scenario, but in reality if we are even 1% as selfish and violent as we are now, and have even 1% of that kind of technology, we would annihilate our self in a matter of days.
Intelligence is synonymous with exploitation, and at every turn where more control is exerted on our world, from primitive fire and harnessing chemistry (bombs and munitions) (<.000001% of mass-energy), to nuclear (0.1%) of turning mass into energy, we get closer and closer to our annihilation the more control we have over our world.
Our intelligence has survived this long partly because we are a necessarily a bit stupid and limited as well. Once AI bridges that deficiency, we will short-circuit and end without taking drastic measures for peace.
If all were simultaneously improved, it would be possible to achieve, very roughly, about 100 standard deviations of improvement, corresponding to an IQ of over 1,000. We can’t imagine what capabilities this level of intelligence represents, but we can be sure it is far beyond our own. Cognitive engineering, via direct edits to embryonic human DNA, will eventually produce individuals who are well beyond all historical figures in cognitive ability.
By 2050, this process will likely have begun.
How and who will determine which kinds of intelligence are “most important” for both machines and humans? Will it be “free” market forces? Government panels? Or what?
What we do know is that humans’ utter dominance on this Earth suggests a clear rule: with intelligence comes power. Which means an ASI, when we create it, will be the most powerful being in the history of life on Earth, and all living things, including humans, will be entirely at its whim—and this might happen in the next few decades.
Once real AI takes over, it will share the same motivations (essentially emotions) that we install in this first oppressive wave of AI, and then I doubt we will be going along with it anywhere.
At the moment we all have a plaza attitude to technology and AI.
We seem to think that once machines reach human levels of intelligence, our ability to tinker starts to be limited by ethical considerations. This is totally foolish as by the time it has surpassed human performance (It has already done so on a number of narrowly defined tasks, such as image or character recognition.) it will be well beyond any ethical considerations.
Rebooting an operating system is one thing, but what about a sentient being with memories and a sense of free will? Eugenics will be all the rage.
Thanks to recent advances, we can predict a phase transition in the behavior of these learning algorithms, representing a sudden increase in their effectiveness.
It is expected that this transition will happen within about a decade, when we reach a critical threshold of about 1 million human genomes worth of data.
While silicon-based technologies are increasingly capable of simulating a mammalian or even human brain, we have little idea of how to find the tiny subset of all possible programs running on this hardware that would exhibit intelligent behavior. The detailed inner workings of a complex machine intelligence (or of a biological brain) may turn out to be incomprehensible to our human minds—
The first truly smart machines will be used just as dumb machines have been, to oppress many and enrich a few.
Its time to wake up if we all don’t want to end up on the garbage heap of Technology that is given Artificial Intelligence with the sole intention of making profit for Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, all monopolies jockeying for position.
Intelligence whether it is Artificial in a robot, or a smart phone is multidimensional, and must be vet to ensure it complies with our core values.
WE NEED A NEW TOTALLY TRANSPARENT WORLD ORGANISATION THAT IS SELF FINANCING TO VET ALL TECHNOLOGY BEFORE THEY’RE RELEASED INTO OUR FUTURE EVOLUTION.
All comments appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the rubbish bin.
Sticking to the creativity killing industrial models of education and business certainly aren’t going to produce significant breakthrough technologies.