Artificial Intelligence; “Intelligence exhibited by an artificial (non-natural, man-made) entity; The branch of computer science dealing with the reproduction or mimicking of human-level thought in computers; The essential quality of a machine which thinks in a manner similar to or on the same general level as a human being”.

(Editor’s Note: Past this point we’re getting into some pretty thick schtuff! I hope you’re prepared to read it!)

Before going on with my thoughts,  lets have a look at the lovely readings that had to be done.

Singularity:

The Coming Technological Singularity:
"How to Survive in the Post-Human Era"

Interesting title on this one, especially love the subtitle, really gives a ‘foreshadowing’ context to the entire piece. Lets jump right in, shall we?

Anyways, this healthy paper (funnily enough, written nearly twenty years ago now), examines the idea of ‘being’ and the coming of an age where ‘technology & humanity are one’, an age where ‘progress & development is guided by a greater than human intelligence’. That being said, there are many ways that a singularity may or may not happen, this is when the article  evaluates each of these possibilities, which come under the following headings.

Singularity not occurring:

One possibility is that a singularity may not happen, and referring to the paper at hand it was suggested that while one could in theory run hardware and software that could run a ‘thinking machine’, yet at the same time there is the possibility that humanity just reaches the pinnacle of its technological advancements  without having to create ‘intellectual’ devices. This means that there can be no further point of advancement and thus no progress will be made.

However, given that the technology that we have, the article says  if the singularity can happen it will, and despite whether or not the governments were to create laws in the prevention of creating machines that can ‘think’, it is fair to say that it just merely assures that some individual is going to create the machine anyways!

Additionally, by preventing a singularity, humanity would be creating a post-human era that would just be non-existent of life. Furthermore, we would just be leaving a bunch of analog devices behind, therefore by trying to prevent a singularity we’re in essence preventing any room for a legacy or survival, an idea which we just cannot comprehend at the moment.

Alternate paths to a Singularity:

However, one item to consider is that a singularity doesn’t need to be pure AI, moreover that IA (Intelligence Amplification) is how a singularity would occur. This means that rather then creating our own beings, we enhance ourselves as humans. This idea is based on the premise that we’ve spent so long looking into understanding and figuring ourselves out that we’ll eventually reach a point where we learn how to improve on it. Biologically, we’ve figured out how to cure certain diseases or genetic issues, so what’s exactly there to stop us from improving ourselves?

Of course, there are applications to this, including:

– Human/Computer Team Automation- Implies improvement to the development approach required by machines.

– Develop Human/Computer symbiosis in art- Implies human/graphic precision.

– Develop neural interfaces that allow WAN computer and network access without a human required to be tied to one spot.

These are just a few examples of what can be done if a singularity occurs, it implies that we as beings survive, but arise to something better then the flesh

Strong Superhumanity:

This takes the assumption that we can tailor the singularity, that we could gain our most ‘extravagant hopes’. In other words, that humans become their own successors and that our successors would be tampered by our knowledge, our foundation. Thus it would lead to a golden age where we can attain immortality or live long enough to see the universe survive.

Alas, immortality, though something considered some to revel about, the philosophical issues seem to be more intimidating as a mind would stays in the same capacity can’t live forever, give it a few thousands years and it would just fall back into a repeating cycle, and with that being said, there are limits to how much the mind can grow, and when it grows great enough, how can it relate back to the original mind? The case put forward here is that while we could possibly achieve the dream of moving forward, does it prove to be in our best benefit?

Interestingly enough, I take the standpoint that humanity, for its best interests should focus on IA,  as this would truly merge the best of minds and perhaps even some of our better qualities and enhance them for the better (or the worst, goodness knows what we are capable of!)

Are You Living In A Computer Simulation?

Interestingly enough, the title suggests, the paper examines the possibilities of the post-human era, but focuses on the main argument we’re currently living in a a computer simulation (ala the first Matrix Movie). For the sake of the essay, we’ll focus on the idea of simulations.

Now, the idea of having an individual in a simulation and having everything around them being reconstructed digitally or ‘artificially’ is entirely possible, borrowing a bit from Inception, there could very well be multiple individuals in this simulation, who can share and experience similar emotions, thoughts and experiences. Additionally, continuing with this ‘multiple-individuals’ idea there is an entire possibility in which the amount of people could be from just two individuals to more then six billion people individuals that can be real.

However, continuing from our theme of ‘Inception’, it also implies that the brain can accept and have the processing power to run this ‘artifical world’, and it would have to be very powerful for us to stay tethered for so long! Otherwise the cracks in our ‘artificial’ reality could be very well noticeable. On the other hand, Bostrom refers to the idea that if the mind and brain  are held under the right technologies it is possible to have the mental states experience a wide variety of different physical experiences, then this implies that our mind can easily reside under a simulation. Similar to the Sims, or any other computer game, our lives are being controlled by computer devices and that we’re just investing our lives into an ‘artificial’ experience that seems real.

Yet, we could be the true reality and it is down to our species to create the software to recreate worlds just from our imaginations (the world of a dream anyone?), although the possibility stands that we may not be around to be running this equipment, we’ll be the ones who create it and thus simulations can be ‘brought to life’. Although, in relation to other possiblities, the post-human stage may not be reached or that post-humans will not focus on creating simulations. With that point expressed by Nick Bostrom, he finishes with that “Unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.”

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Now to my personal thoughts, using these questions to guide the opinion!

1. Both the ideas described in the articles are outlandish and will never happen, or have never happened?

Nope. To be honest, in the mentioned ‘Singularity’ article, I couldn’t help thinking that the way technology and humans are just waiting for that first step to be connected, we’re already using embedded technologies in all the different parts of our lives, whether its artificial organs or even computers that can act based on our nerve movements or thoughts, the idea of technology arriving to replace us isn’t so far fetched.

As much as I hate to say it, I can’t help agreeing also with the idea of the post-human age,  as while humanity has still get more to give, like the logistic function our functions as far as resources goes will be limited and we’ll reach a point where we can’t advanced beyond our current position, thus an age will evolve where both humanity and technology come together as one and goes beyond anything we were capable of. Although, we’re still a bit far out from that stage at the moment, but we’ll get there at some point (well, depends on whether we live long enough to let it happen!)

2. The singularity is something that we should all strive for as humans have been built to always want to progress.

I think that ‘strive’ is a bit of a strong word,  as we have ‘fated’ ourselves into moving towards a singularity, although based on the trends technology is going for it isn’t a half bad idea. As ridiculous as Sci-Fi appears, it isn’t out of the impossible for us to have integrated neural implants or bio-mechanical enhancements which could very well advance us forward in relation to our progression, followed by Bio-Nano technological enhancements. Consider Deus Ex as something which could very well map the direction we’re taking.

3. Our worlds are already full of small simulations, so the natural progression to immerse ourselves in one is a logical step – as Max Frisch suggested‘Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn’t have to experience it.’

I would think that simulations are simulations for a reason. While they can ‘re-create’ a situation, it is still based on the idea of a mathematical input which guesses the most ‘likely’ probable event, and as shown in the present not all simulations get it right! So, by immersing ourselves in a simulation it just stunts the inevitable! Natural Progression through the use of a simulation immersion it just keeps the way things are, and leading back to that idea of ‘immortality’, our minds will not grow and thus we’ll just be living a loop for however long we live in that simulation.

4. What is artificial intelligence – and will this naturally lead to the singularity or is there another way?

Though the definition for AI is “Intelligence exhibited by an artificial (non-natural, man-made) entity; The branch of computer science dealing with the reproduction or mimicking of human-level thought in computers; The essential quality of a machine which thinks in a manner similar to or on the same general level as a human being”, and I would say that it leads us in the direction of having an age without humanity’s involvement, as the AI’s would be the ones who are thinking and improving themselves (investing time in their selves to perhaps advance forward? Finding something more powerful then an AI?), and while this would lead to the ‘unpredictable’ nature of technology. Simply put,  I would put my money on AI leading to the technological singularity, as it is looking into creating intelligence which is completely digital and non-physical in any manner.

Finishing Thoughts

My brain, (Its only Human after all!), is more or less a deadweight after examining these two papers, however, lets wrap up these thoughts with these simple points:

1. I think that technology and humanity will transfuse into one, creating a bio-mechanical race (suppose you could call it our post-human descendents).

2. We very well have the technology to bring worlds to life at some point, although by living in them we are merely living in a ‘limbo’ state (Got another Inception reference in there!)

3. While I hate to admit it, our race only  has an upper limit held on our brains, and alas we will not be able to progress further without binding together with technology.

Hope you got a kick outta this, and I’m out!

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