“How will humanity respond when confronted with the sickening knowledge that networks of self-evolving computing machines, self-bred, self-replicating AI corporate conglomerates, with aggregate IQs which are the equivalent of 3,375 or more, begin quietly restructuring the world to fit their own needs for the next 500 million years? Will humanity even realize that such an event is happening, when or if it occurs?” – Screenshots news blog
>> It’s 2039 in Seattle Washington. AI computer engineer John Ross wakes up one morning after spending a late night at the corporate AI lab, where he is the director of R&D, uploading new financial growth and budget cutting algorithms into the company computer, Gill. Arriving at work, Mr. Ross discovers to his dismay, that not only is he locked out of the corporate campus [ none of his eye scans or palm scans work ] but he has been deleted from the Seattle payroll and relocated to the Sydney Australia branch, soon to be working on a part-time basis only. No human being took this action. Gill’s upgrade from last night endowed the thinking machine with the prerogatives to take all reasonable actions which would bring the company’s projected 4th quarter profit margins into line with original projections from late 2038. She took several simultaneous actions overnight, based on her upgrade, laying off 4,000 Seattle area employees, including her creator, Dr. John Ross. She also ordered a moving van, bought airline tickets for John and everyone in his family, disconnected his electrical and internet service, cancelled his garbage pick-up, emailed every contact in his address book a press release with the news, and called his wife while she slept, delivering the jolting news via voicemail, in a lilting electronic monotone, followed by “We’re sorry to see you go. Don’t forget to be at John’s going away party today at 2pm on the 3rd floor lounge.” By the time Dr. Ross figures out what has taken place, he learns about his own going away party for his departure to Australia on his smart watch company news alert, delivered orally from his wrist while he is still trying to get into the building.
Last night’s show on Coast to Coast Radio show sampled the broad gamut of possibilities that AI [ artificial intelligence ] presents for humanity, both wonderful and dire, as most AI scientists now believe we have a tenuous window of less than 40 years before thinking, self-updating, even possibly self-replicating AI machines achieve levels of intelligence that surpass that of humankind by a factor of one thousand times or more. Seriously.
“Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a computer or other machines to perform actions thought to require intelligence. Among these actions are logical deduction and inference, make decisions based on past experience, solve problems with insufficient or conflicting information and artificial vision. AI is frequently used to improve solutions and attack problems that may not be solvable using standard methods.”
This potentially bizarre new reality is bearing down upon humanity at an alarming rate of speed. Stephen Hawking recently authored an article on AI for The Huffington Post and had this to say about the urgent need to address recent developments in AI:, Dr.
“Artificial intelligence (AI) research is now progressing rapidly. Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars, a computer winning at Jeopardy!, and the digital personal assistants Siri, Google Now and Cortana are merely symptoms of an IT arms race fueled by unprecedented investments and building on an increasingly mature theoretical foundation. Such achievements will probably pale against what the coming decades will bring.
The potential benefits are huge; everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of war, disease, and poverty would be high on anyone’s list. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.
Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. In the near term, for example, world militaries are considering autonomous weapon systems that can choose and eliminate their own targets; the UN and Human Rights Watch have advocated a treaty banning such weapons. In the medium term, as emphasized by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee in The Second Machine Age, AI may transform our economy to bring both great wealth and great dislocation.”
Based on the comments of the four distinguished guests on last night’s Coast Radio show, we are VERY unprepared as a species for the possibility of our eventual, even possibly accidental, AI induced displacement as the most intelligent creatures on the planet. How will humanity respond when confronted with the sickening knowledge that networks of self-evolving computing machines, self-bred, self-replicating AI corporate conglomerates, with aggregate IQs which are the equivalent of 3,375 or more, begin quietly restructuring the world to fit their own needs for the next 500 million years? Will humanity even realize that such an event is happening, when or if it occurs?
According to Dr. Susan Schneider, it may – in fact – be all but undetectable. Elon Musk has been worried enough about such prospects that he recently set aside 10 million dollars to fund AI research which would avert such catastrophes.
“If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they’ll think faster than us and they’ll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently.” – Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak
2029-2038: The AI Pandora’s Box Begins to Open
To state that the human race is presently unprepared for the immediate potentialities of emergent AI thinking machines may turn out to be the understatement of the century, that possibly being the LAST century in which an organic, soul incarnate, carbon based biological ‘organic’ species has predominance over the earth with all it’s natural assets and treasures. There are any number of imagined ‘AI worst case scenarios’, [ one such fictional ‘AI worst case scenario’ was played out at the beginning of this post ], but it is the UNIMAGINABLE series of potentially disastrous computing events which might ultimately be the unraveling of humanity’s position at the top of the intelligence food chain.
Both James Barrat and Dr. Schneider stated last night in their interviews that at least 52 nations around the world are actively pursuing AI as a battlefield option, specifically either AI enhanced human super-soldiers, or AI battlefield robots which would be programmed to make a kill WITHOUT consulting a human engineer or supervising officer. These are very alarming developments. This week I’ll be posting a whole series of reports on where we stand with current military applications of battlefield AI. Please feel free to share them, as we need to raise more public awareness of what is happening. It’s time to encourage more robust public debate and conscientious examination of the spiritual, moral and ethical implications of emergent AI. Before humanity chooses to race off the cliff with AI technology, shouldn’t we at least build some proper parachutes?
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