Technology is giving life the potential to flourish like never before, or to self-destruct – The Future of Life Institute.
I stumbled upon this organization while reading Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by author Max Tegmark. Their mission is to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges. They are a charity and outreach organization working to ensure that tomorrow’s most powerful technologies are beneficial for humanity – and the list of members is a whose who of the science and technology community.
In their view, technology is to thank for all the ways in which today is better than the stone age, and technology is likely to keep improving at an accelerating pace. From their website: with less powerful technologies such as fire, we learned to minimize risks largely by learning from mistakes. With more powerful technologies such as nuclear weapons, synthetic biology and future strong artificial intelligence, planning ahead is a better strategy than learning from mistakes.
They support research and other efforts aimed at proactively avoiding problems with a current focus on artificial intelligence. The book referenced above looks at the advance of AI and how it will impact life, exploring a broad spectrum of views on what will/should happen. Now, the organization is looking to expand the conversation to include as many voices as possible. Here is a look at the results of their Super Intelligence Survey. You can add your own voice by taking the survey here.
2 thoughts on “Find out where you Stand on Artificial Intelligence”
The authors write…
“….with less powerful technologies such as fire, we learned to minimize risks largely by learning from mistakes. With more powerful technologies such as nuclear weapons, synthetic biology and future strong artificial intelligence, planning ahead is a better strategy than learning from mistakes.”
Frank, none of the “experts” you reference in your articles really seem capable of thinking this through, even though the situation is remarkably simple. Like this…
1) We limit the powers available to children out of the recognition that their maturity and judgment is limited.
2) When it comes to adults we persist in the fantasy that we can somehow successfully manage any amount of power which emerges from an ever accelerating knowledge explosion. That is, we declare our maturity and judgment to be unlimited, an obviously absurd assumption.
Apparently the authors of The Future of Life Institute feel that planning ahead will somehow solve the problem. Apologies, but this is just more wishful thinking pipe dreams. Planning ahead will certainly help to a point, but sooner or later an ever accelerating knowledge explosion will produce too many powers of too great a scale for us to successfully manage.
Please remember, with powers capable of crashing civilization, it only takes 1) a single failure 2) a single time with 3) a single such power to reach the game over event. Powers of this scale require a perfect record of management sustained forever, and there is nothing in human history to suggest such a thing is possible.
This is not a pessimistic analysis, but a realistic one. Just as is true with kids, our ability to manage power is limited, and thus the powers available to us has to be as well. There is no clever trick which allows us to step out of that equation. There are no catchy trendy slogans which can wallpaper over our limitations as a species. And the more we look for a technical fix (such as AI) the faster we race towards the cliff.
If you’ll permit a link, here’s an ongoing forum discussion on this topic. I’d like to invite yourself and any expert you can find to join the conversation and challenge all of the above with great enthusiasm.
Challenges are most welcome, no offense will be taken, so tell your experts to roll up their sleeves and try to rip the thesis on that page to shreds. And if they can’t, let’s just admit it so we can proceed with a much needed cultural conversation based on reality instead of fantasy.
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