Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DOOM? OR PROGRESS?


Where is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)  heading?

Some time ago, Stephen Hawking said, "The development of full Artificial Intelligence would spell the end of the human race."

Elon Musk, who has pioneered digital money, private spaceflight, and electric cars, has said, "We should be very careful about Artificial Intelligence ... probably we are summoning the demon."

Raymond Kurzweil, perhaps one of the world's foremost authorities on this subject, has published books about "Singularity." Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, a philanthropist, philosopher, and one of the wisest, wealthy persons in the world, said "Kurzweil is the best person I know at predicting the future of Artificial Intelligence."

I read about "Singularlity" in Time magazine, in February 2011 -- the definition of the word befuddles me -- "region of infinite mass density at which space and time are infinitely distorted by gravitational forces and which is held to be the final state of matter falling into a black hole." It was a six page cover story that explained what I'm trying to boil down here, in order to convey what "Singularity" might mean for you and me.

Kurzweil's research reveals that the speed at which computers are gaining power and intelligence means that Artificial Intelligence will soon be able to handle advanced mathematics and science, appreciate art, compose music, drive cars, write books, as well as make ethical decisions. Kurzweil states, loud and clear, and supported by facts, "What we are today -- our "species" will not fit in with what the world will be in 2045."

Throw up your hands and stop reading this if this seems preposterous. It's being analyzed  at Singularity University in Silicon Valley, which was founded by Google, and is currently sponsored and run by NASA. Why are Google and NASA involved? Because once we create an ultra intelligent machine, it will design better machines -- therefore, the first ultra intelligent machine is the last invention man ever needs to make.

Scary? Oh yes, for you and me perhaps, but not for our grandchildren's children.
Another major name in A. I. and Singularity, is Aubrey de Grey, British biologist, one of the world's best-known life-extension researchers. He's working on regenerative medicine, and runs SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence.)

He views aging as a process of accumulating damage, and says the idea that death is an immutable fact of life "is childish, ridiculous. The human body is a machine that has many functions, and it accumulates various types of damage as a side effect of the normal function of the machine. Damage can be repaired periodically." Dr. de Grey says that medicine consists of working on what looks inevitable until you figure out how to make it not inevitable.

Both de Grey and Kurzweil tell us that many people who are alive today will wind up being "functionally immortal."

Kurzeil says, optimistically, that by "Advancing the diagnosis of diseases, developing cures, helping the disabled, developing clean energy, cleaning up the environment, as well as providing highest quality education, we have the chance, in the decades ahead, of addressing the grand challenges of humanity. Artificial Intelligence can be the pivotal technology in achieving this. We have the moral imperative to realize the promises of A.I., while controlling the peril.

"Hmmm," I said back in 2011. 


Hmmm I think, whenever I consider this. I won't be around in 2049 but T.S. Elliot's words are echoing.  "This is the way the world ends...."  Also Eliot said:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started,
And know the place for the first time.”

― T.S. EliotFour Quartets ----



4 comments:

Carola said...

I don't think we should be scared of artificial intelligence. What's dooming humans is climate change, and we need every tool we have to combat it.

Stan said...

Great article Em...sure gives one pause. I'll be way gone, but my great great grand kids will be around for this if the world lasts that long...thanks

Marcus Dandaneau said...

It is my belief that our species is temporary, an earth surface feature of indeterminate origin and destiny, though much has been wondered about its' presence. I think it is our job to set the spirits in the bottles free and to open seals and watch the wheels in the sky and balls of fire as they go on by. God doesn't like to be alone, is my guess? I have pet rocks. sez Dustspeck

A.S. Washington said...

The thought that this provokes is so immeasurable for me that I can not give it the full attention that it requires in this comment section without writing an entire post myself. Thus I'll attempt at being less of a fanatical typist when my brain is firing rapidly like this.

From the immortality standpoint, I love the idea of Artificial Intelligence helping to change the way our bodies age and then die. I have this idea in my head that it will/would be great to live forever. That comes from two wants. One, I want my life to have meant something to someone other than my small circle. I want my name, my legacy to live on. Something people admire and/or aspire to. Along with perhaps a family, I want to leave behind something that says I am here. That's apart of being a writer I guess. The other is, I never want to stop seeing the great movies, television, and reading the good books that will be written.

Conversely, if Artificial Intelligence spells the doom of humanity, how ironic would it be for us to create a thing, lifeforms, being that would destroy us. It makes me think of movies like iRobot or Resident Evil. While these movies and these concepts are often called Science Fiction and Fantasy, many things I saw in Science Fiction movies are reality today and normal, almost thoughtless parts of our lives. I point to the movie Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenneger. In that film, he spoke face to face with a man on the telephone. How awesome would that be to be able to see who you're talking to over the phone. But that was at a payphone kiosk and on a computer. Hell, we do that stuff in the palm of our hands. Computer face to face talk seems so outdated, even today.

Splendid article Em really. I'll stop there with my comment. I could go on and on about this topic forever. I even did a little research on how some species of jelly fish are effectively immortal, by way of their genetic functioning. I wondered how it might be possible for humans to duplicate the same thing. Yup, my wishes of immortality working. All I had from it was an idea for a book I'm dying to write.

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