Ultraintelligent Machines & the Last Human Invention

By: | June 26th, 2015

The Overconfident Wolf

Many are concerned about the intrusion of robots on the working life of the average human. However, supercomputers are already out thinking the smartest legal, financial and medical minds on the planet. So sweeping the issue under the rug as if it’s not a problem is shortsighted and reminds us of the Chinese story of the “Overconfident Wolf.”

The Dawn of the Intelligence Revolution

The world is currently in the midst of an information explosion; but what comes next? According to some, the next great revolution will be the intelligence explosion that arguably is already underway. As we have reported on IndustryTap, a number of leading thinkers, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, are looking forward and seeing a difficult time for humans as ultra intelligent machines take over the operation of civilization.

The key problem for humans is that we think and process information in a linear fashion: one thought or “bit” at a time. The largest number of variables that humans can manipulate simultaneously and consciously is just three or four. For example, an organ player playing a Bach fugue with two hands on the organ keyboards and two feet on the organ pedals is about as complicated as we can get.

Humans do, of course, have the ability to manage many more variables, in the thousands: breathing, hearing, body temperature, digestion, blood cleansing, etc., but these all occur without the intervention of  conscious attention and seem to be hardwired into DNA.

The Origins of Ultraintelligence

In 1965, I.J. Good, a statistician, wrote “Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine” and concluded that if humans are able to create utltraintelligent machines capable of designing and manufacturing, still more ultraintelligent machines would be developed that would make any subsequent human inventions pale by comparison.

In 1996, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote an article, “Staring at the Singularity,” in which he said “computing speed doubles every two subjective years of work. Two years after Artificial Intelligence reaches human equivalents, their speed doubles. One year later, their speed doubles again. Six months-three months-1.5 months … Singularity.”

A paper written by David J. Chalmers, “The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis,” goes into detail on the likelihood of singularity, analyzes many of the assumptions that we have about intelligence, and details the obstacles that stand in the way of Singularity.

With Hawking and Musk thinking that something like Singularity is on the way and that humans are unprepared for it is enough for many to begin thinking about what could turn into a runaway train for humanity and  “our future extinction, isolation, inferiority or integration,” according to Chalmers.

The following graph is from Singularity.com:

David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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