torsdag 26 juli 2012

Incognito Supercomputers and the Singularity

Thanks to rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and computer processing ability, machines are now evolving faster than humans. At some point within the next decade, according to proponents of the Singularity, machines will become so intelligent that they will start making decisions for us in ways that we could never imagine or understand. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that humans will be able to recognize that day and adjust things accordingly so that we’re still in charge here on Earth. (Isn’t that what the Turing Test was for?) As the line between human intelligence and machine intelligence continues to blur, though, it is no longer so obvious that we will we be able to recognize that day when our machines are smarter than us. The supercomputers will be in control and incognito.

Being relegated to the #2 intelligent species on the planet by unrecognizable supercomputers could be a downright scary proposition. At least that’s the provocative thesis that some – like Jaan Tallinn (a founding engineer of Skype and Kazaa) – have put forth. As Tallinn explains it, all of these rapid gains in computer intelligence have a drawback: computers may decide that they are smarter than humans and start to make decisions for us in ways that threaten our future existence – in much the same way that humans have been making decisions for other species on Earth with all of our relentless industrialization. For example, computers could decide to start terraforming the Earth in order to protect future generations of humans – or they could decide that what’s good for our brains (eternal smiles and everlasting happiness) is just not possible with our bodies as currently configured.

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