Artificial intelligence has a long way to go before computers are as intelligent as humans. But progress is happening rapidly, in everything from logical reasoning to facial and speech recognition. With steady improvements in memory, processing power, and programming, the question isn't if a computer will ever be as smart as a human, but only how long it will take. And once computers are as smart as people, they'll keep getting smarter, in short order become much, much smarter than people. When artificial intelligence (AI) becomes artificial superintelligence (ASI), the real problems begin.
In his new book Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, James Barrat argues that we need to begin thinking now about how artificial intelligences will treat their creators when they can think faster, reason better, and understand more than any human. These questions were long the province of thrilling (if not always realistic) science fiction, but Barrat warns that the consequences could indeed be catastrophic. I spoke with him about his book, the dangers of ASI, and whether we're all doomed.
Your basic thesis is that even if we don't know exactly how long it will take, eventually artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, and once they're smarter than we are, we are in serious trouble. This is an idea people are familiar with; there are lots of sci-fi stories about homicidal AIs like HAL or Skynet. But you argue that it may be more likely that super-intelligent AI will be simply indifferent to the fate of humanity, and that could be just as dangerous for us. Can you explain?
First, I think we've been inoculated to the threat of advanced AI by science fiction. We've had so much fun with Hollywood tropes like Terminator and of course the Hal 9000 that we don't take the threat seriously. But as Bill Joy once said, "Just because you saw it in a movie doesn't mean it can't happen."
Superintelligence in no way implies benevolence. Your laptop doesn't like you or dislike you anymore than your toaster does why do we believe an intelligent machine will be different? We humans have a bad habit of imputing motive to objects and phenomenaanthropomorphizing. If it's thundering outside the gods must be angry. We see friendly faces in clouds. We anticipate that because we create an artifact, like an intelligent machine, it will be grateful for its existence, and want to serve and protect us.
But these are our qualities, not machines'. Furthermore, at an advanced level, as I write in Our Final Invention, citing the work of AI-maker and theorist Steve Omohundro, artificial intelligence will have drives much like our own, including self-protection and resource acquisition. It will want to achieve its goals and marshal sufficient resources to do so. It will want to avoid being turned off. When its goals collide with ours it will have no basis for valuing our goals, and use whatever means are at its disposal for achieving its goals.
The immediate answer many people would give to the threat is, "Well, just program them not to hurt us," with some kind of updated version of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. I'm guessing that's no easy task.
That's right, it's extremely difficult. Asimov's Three Laws are often cited as a cure-all for controlling ASI. In fact they were created to generate tension and stories. HIs classic I, Robot is a catalogue of unintended consequences caused by conflicts among the three laws. Not only are our values hard to give to a machine, our values change from culture to culture, religion to religion, and over time. We can't agree on when life begins, so how can we reach a consensus about the qualities of life we want to protect? And will those values make sense in 100 years?
When you're discussing our efforts to contain an AI many times smarter than us, you make an analogy to waking up in a prison run by mice (with whom you can communicate). My takeaway from that was pretty depressing. Of course you'd be able to manipulate the mice into letting you go free, and it would probably be just as easy for an artificial superintelligence to get us to do what it wants. Does that mean any kind of technological means of containing it will inevitably fail?
Our Final Invention is both a warning and a call for ideas about how to govern superintelligence. I think we'll struggle mortally with this problem, and there aren't a lot of solutions out thereI've been looking. Ray Kurzweil, who's portrait of the future is very rosy, concedes that superior intelligence won't be contained. His solution is to merge with it. The 1975 Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA is a good model of what should happen. Researchers suspended work and got together to establish basic safety protocols, like "don't track the DNA out on your shoes." It worked, and now we're benefitting from gene therapy and better crops, with no horrendous accidents so far. MIRI (the Machine Intelligence Research Institute) advocates creating the first superintelligence with friendliness encoded, among other steps, but that's hard to do. Bottom linebefore we share the planet with superintelligent machines we need a science for understanding and controlling them.
But as you point out, it would be extremely difficult in practical terms to ban a particular kind of AIif we don't build it, someone else will, and there will always be what seem to them like very good reasons to do so. With people all over the world working on these technologies, how can we impose any kind of stricture that will prevent the outcomes we're afraid of?
Human-level intelligence at the price of a computer will be the most lucrative commodity in the history of the world. Imagine banks of thousands of PhD quality brains working on cancer research, climate modeling, weapons development. With those enticements, how do you get competing researchers and countries to the table to discuss safety? My answer is to write a book, make films, get people aware and involved, and start a private-public partnership targeted at safety. Government and industry have to get together. For that to happen, we must give people the resources they need to understand a problem that's going to deeply affect their lives. Public pressure is all we've got to get people to the table. If we wait to be motivated by horrendous accidents and weaponization, as we have with nuclear fission, then we'll have waited too long.
Beyond the threat of annihilation, one of the most disturbing parts of this vision is the idea that we'll eventually reach the point at which humans are no longer the most important actors on planet Earth. There's another species (if you will) with more capability and power to make the big decisions, and we're here at their indulgence, even if for the moment they're treating us humanely. If we're a secondary species, how do you think that will affect how we think about what it means to be human?
That's right, we humans steer the future not because we're the fastest or strongest creatures, but because we're the smartest. When we share the planet with creatures smarter than we are, they'll steer the future. For a simile, look at how we treat intelligent animals - they're at Seaworld, they're bushmeat, they're in zoos, or they're endangered. Of course the Singularitarians believe that the superintelligence will be ourswe'll be transhuman. I'm deeply skeptical of that one-sided good news story.
As you were writing this book, were there times you thought, "That's it. We're doomed. Nothing can be done"?
Yes, and I thought it was curious to be alive and aware within the time window in which we might be able to change that future, a twist on the anthropic principal. But having hope about seemingly hopeless odds is a moral choice. Perhaps we'll get wise to the dangers in time. Perhaps we'll learn after a survivable accident. Perhaps enough people will realize that advanced AI is a dual use technology, like nuclear fission. The world was introduced to fission at Hiroshima. Then we as a species spent the next 50 years with a gun pointed at our own heads. We can't survive that abrupt an introduction to superintelligence. And we need a better maintenance plan than fission's mutually assured destruction.
See the original post here:
- Teacher who insulted pupils and colleagues in 'Gossip Girl' style blog faces being struck off - Mirror Online - January 29th, 2021
- It's A Sin cast: meet the unknowns behind 2021's first TV hit - NME.com - January 29th, 2021
- FDA sends warning letter to company that is advertising COVID-19 curing tea - Food Safety News - January 14th, 2021
- The QAnon Doctor Pushing Wild Conspiracies About the COVID Vaccine - VICE - January 14th, 2021
- BravePicks 2020 - The Scribes Speak! Paul Stenning - bravewords.com - January 14th, 2021
- VidCon Now to Debut at the Singapore Media Festival - Branding in Asia Magazine - November 24th, 2020
- Watch This Superb Fan Adaptation of Peter Watts' Blindsight - tor.com - October 19th, 2020
- Pandemics and transhumanism - The Times of India Blog - September 18th, 2020
- CD Projekt Red have nabbed Cyberpunk, but here are 5 other punks that deserve games - PC Gamer - September 18th, 2020
- Scientific Psi? Neuralink and the smarter brain - Covalence - September 18th, 2020
- Transhuman - Wikipedia - August 10th, 2020
- The Transhuman Revolution: What it is and How to Prepare ... - August 10th, 2020
- What No One Will Tell You About Robots - OZY - July 25th, 2020
- Black LGBTQ+ playwrights and musical-theater artists you need to know - Time Out New York - July 25th, 2020
- ANTIBOY: The Family of Harry Hains Unveils Animated Video For Good Enough Single - Icon Vs. Icon - July 22nd, 2020
- No death and an enhanced life: Is the future transhuman ... - July 21st, 2020
- Immortality or Bust - Film Threat - July 20th, 2020
- In Dan Brown's AI Hype Novel, the Hero Stumbles Onto God - Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence - July 15th, 2020
- Quote of the Day on the Morality of Those Seeking Heaven - Patheos - July 13th, 2020
- A music and arts festival for Mumbaikars - Times of India - July 3rd, 2020
- Experience never seen before immersive music and art festival with transhuman collective 'UNRATED' - RadioandMusic.com - July 3rd, 2020
- This startup is ensuring babies get a good nights sleep with its smart mattress - YourStory - July 3rd, 2020
- Who exactly was Jeffrey Epstein? A history of the mogul and his crimes - Film Daily - July 3rd, 2020
- Livestream event on Steve Fuller's Nietzschean Meditations - Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies - June 22nd, 2020
- Transhuman - TV Tropes - June 13th, 2020
- Artificial eye with 3D retina developed for the first time - Advanced Science News - June 13th, 2020
- How to go on holiday in a pandemic - The Economist - June 13th, 2020
- The Best Way to Handle Your Decline Is to Confront It Head On - The Atlantic - June 13th, 2020
- Humans will be able to replace their bodies within 50 years claims transhumanist writer - Express.co.uk - May 27th, 2020
- How Britain's oldest universities are trying to protect humanity from risky A.I. - CNBC - May 27th, 2020
- Heres Everything Coming to HBO Max in June - TheWrap - May 27th, 2020
- Durham's Kriya Therapuetics lands $80M to advance gene therapies for diabetes, severe obesity - WRAL Tech Wire - May 15th, 2020
- Introducing When the Sparrow Falls, the Debut Novel From Neil Sharpson - tor.com - May 15th, 2020
- New Releases And Eshop Discounts Week 20 - N-Europe - May 15th, 2020
- Things To Do: Antonio Eyez Will Perform At R&R Studios April 30 - Houston Press - April 27th, 2020
- Five Essay Collections to Read in Quarantine - Willamette Week - April 27th, 2020
- OISTE.ORG Foundation endorses preserving the human right to privacy statement during the Covid-19 pandemic signed by a group of more than 300... - April 27th, 2020
- The Demo For Soldat 2 Is Now Free On The Steam Platform - Happy Gamer - April 2nd, 2020
- Friending the World Sociality and the Transhuman Vision - Patheos - March 28th, 2020
- Technology and Human Creativity in Theological Perspective - Patheos - March 28th, 2020
- What is an artificial womb and can it work for humans? - Screen Shot - March 28th, 2020
- How the Fast & Furious Movies Should End (and Live on Forever) - Observer - March 28th, 2020
- Oxford academic claims future humans could live for thousands of years - Express.co.uk - March 26th, 2020
- Electioneering on the Eve of the Virus Nathan Thornburgh and photographer Shane Carpenter were in New - Roads and Kingdoms - March 26th, 2020
- MultiBrief: Surviving coronavirus: Bravery, health, and strength - MultiBriefs Exclusive - March 26th, 2020
- Coronavirus and the Rise and Fall of Humanism - CounterPunch - March 26th, 2020
- The Fight against Socialism Isnt Over - National Review - March 16th, 2020
- Harry Hains, actor in American Horror Story and The OA, dies at 27 - SYFY WIRE - January 11th, 2020
- WISeKey to Hold its 13th Annual Cybersecurity IoT Blockchain Roundtable in Davos on January 22, 2020 - GlobeNewswire - December 25th, 2019
- Misinformation, hacking, and imploding startups: 18 books to read in 2020 that puncture Silicon Valley utopianism - Business Insider - December 25th, 2019
- Best books of 2019 - Patheos - December 21st, 2019
- The 50 best TV shows of 2019: No 4 Years and Years - The Guardian - December 21st, 2019
- The Big Read Poppy: Human After All, the NME interview - NME.com - November 13th, 2019
- Jonathan Kay: What to make of racism, sexism and homophobia from the same people lecturing us about bigotry - National Post - November 13th, 2019
- How Australian viewers are reacting to 'Years and Years' - SBS - November 13th, 2019
- Are LED lights and other techno-implants slowly turning us into the Borg? - SYFY WIRE - October 16th, 2019
- The finale issue of House of X/Powers of X: We dig into every detail - Polygon - October 16th, 2019
- Yudkowsky - The AI-Box Experiment - June 3rd, 2019
- Corporate Growth Summit and International M&A Awards - June 3rd, 2019
- 7 Reasons Why Transhumanism is the Greatest Threat to the ... - May 22nd, 2019
- Transhuman | Future | FANDOM powered by Wikia - April 20th, 2019
- Transhuman | Snafu Comics Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - April 20th, 2019
- The TransHuman Code Initiative | A new initiative that ... - April 20th, 2019
- THE ADVENT OF THE TRANSHUMANS - News - Dreadnought - April 20th, 2019
- Transhuman Treachery - TV Tropes - April 20th, 2019
- Home - Believer - April 12th, 2019
- Transhuman by Jonathan Hickman - April 7th, 2019
- Calls for papers Conferences taking place in May 2019 - April 5th, 2019
- Transhuman Artificial Intelligence Coming to a Hive Mind ... - April 5th, 2019
- Transhuman Space Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - March 18th, 2019
- Overwatch Transhuman Arm | Xenic-HL2RP Wiki | FANDOM ... - March 18th, 2019
- The TransHuman Code Initiative - January 8th, 2019
- Groundbreaking project seeks to 'bring dead back to life ... - December 5th, 2018
- The Transhuman Code - December 5th, 2018
- Transhuman r/Transhuman - reddit - December 5th, 2018
- Transhuman Space - Steve Jackson Games - November 3rd, 2018
- Transhuman Space: Bioroid Bazaar - November 3rd, 2018
- Believer - Transhuman - Amazon.com Music - August 22nd, 2018
- Nick Knight - Home - July 14th, 2018
- Transhuman Aliens - TV Tropes - May 30th, 2018