Given my recent almost obsessive interest in the coming Artificial Intelligence revolution I don’t know how I missed hearing about the recent Singularity Conference in Palo Alto, let alone missed hearing about the Singularity Institute.
Thankfully they’ve recorded all the talks so I’ll participate virtually when those go online.
I’ve been wondering why there has been so little fuss about the implications of a robust AI entity, since it seems fairly obvious to me that it will quickly dwarf our feeble human intellectual capacity and therefore usher in a new and very promising era of efficiency, hindered only by the human tendency to be skeptical of key innovations. My working assumption based on talking with (mostly highly educated) folks is that AI “detractors” fall into two basic groups – the first is by far the largest and composed of those that are basically ignorant about how technology has affected human development over the past few thousand years. They simply have not spent much time reflecting on how technology has been the key driver of humanity, especially over the past century as the industrial revolution and globalization have been the dominant forces shaping our economic, political, and societal landscapes. The second group are those that are more familiar than I with programming and technology, are generally very accepting of how technology is revolutionizing the world, yet remain skeptical of the implications of the coming conscious computing and robust AI revolution. I’m still puzzling over this but think it may be related to a failure to understand the limitations of human biology and neuroscience. Even a brilliant computer programmer can be a prisoner to the notion that the human brain and human intellect somehow remain “outside” of normal mechanistic explanations. Programmers, especially those with religious leanings, may find it hard to accept the insignificance of our human intellects until the machines are already making this abundantly, and sometimes painfully, obvious.
The good news is that unlike previous sea change technologies a massively smart AI will be able to lobby for and explain why the innovations it will bring to the table are in the best interests of humanity, and presumably will quickly gain the wisdom needed to “outwit” those who will immediately and irrationally argue against human interaction with machine intelligences.