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Are We Building Gods or Terminators?

July 01, 2012

Hugo de Garis is the past director of the Artificial Brain Lab (ABL) at Xiamen University in China who is best known for his doomsday book The Artilect War. This video discusses how and why he got interested in artificial intelligence; Moore’s Law and the laws of physics; the hardware and software requirements for artificial intelligence; why cutting edge experts are often missing the writing on the wall; emerging intelligence and other approaches to AI; Dr. Henry Markram’s Blue Brain Project; the stakes in building AI and his concepts of Artilects, Cosmists and Terrans; cosmology, the Fermi Paradox and the Drake equation; the advance of robotics and the political, ethical, legal and existential implications thereof; species dominance as the major issue of the 21st century; the technological singularity and our chances of surviving it in the context of fast and slow take-off.


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Posted by Intomorrow  on  06/30  at  05:26 PM

In the past, cosmists were 'Defense'; we can't necessarily assume people with the mentality of Columbus, Cortez, Pizarro will not be pioneers in the future. Now, war in space is from Hollywood, though bad guys in space are not out of the question; protection rackets-- including the military-- can be super-bad guys when they want to be.
But bad guys in space is a minor concern, the real worry is a legitimate one: of Mansons living to age 100+ so they can kill more of us; of Dahmers living to age 100+ to eat more of us. It isn't something one would want to stay up at night thinking about.. yet it is a possibility; Mansons and Dahmers aren't SF such as the Terminator and Predator.

Posted by GamerFromJump  on  07/01  at  09:28 AM

"the real worry is a legitimate one: of Mansons living to age 100+ so they can kill more of us; of Dahmers living to age 100+ to eat more of us."

On the other hand, Mansons and Dahmers depend on the relative helplessness of their prey, of which they would be robbed with widespread transhuman empowerment. Sort of a ramped-up version of Sam Colt metaphorically making men equal. A villain being the Terminator is less of a worry when Joe Street gets to be Iron Man.

It would not be surprising if some sort of organization were created to deal with both misbehaving transhumans/artilects and those humans who would mistreat THs/AIs. Sort of a cross between the X-Men and the Men in Black.

Posted by Intomorrow  on  07/01  at  11:18 AM

That is encouraging, Gamer. So perhaps the militarisation of space is the only thing left for me to fret about because it is undeniable: nations don't trust each other (naturally) so they will continue espionage from space, build killer robots to potentially attack satellites, and so forth.
But no war, though the conquistidor mentality remains; they talk peace and prepare for war by spending trillions.

Posted by GamerFromJump  on  07/01  at  11:31 AM

It'd be kinda funny is the militarization of space didn't happen, because the nations are broke and can't afford to outbid Google for the Chinese and Indian guys that can build super-whammy-dyne stuff.

Posted by Intomorrow  on  07/01  at  01:01 PM

No, they are absolutely determined to tax and spend on the military, even if all social programs had to eventually be gutted-- at least in the country I'm familiar with. It's a mirror-image of reality: they say the military is to defend the Constitution yet it is actually the opposite: to defend power and wealth (wealth = power). The Constitution is an abstraction; wealth and power are real. Their families are flesh 'n blood-- not paper as the Constitution is; their families' positions must be maintained via the military. Where is power without 'Defense'? However I'm optimistic concerning peace; war isn't likely albeit neither is the Age of Aquarius, as I attempted to tell Giulio.. if we take optimism to its extreme we are as absentminded professors living in some mythical golden age (Age of Pericles; Renaissance; 1960s)-- though in our case it would be in a golden age in the future, not the past. Space militarization continues, war diminishes but spending on war preparation does not. "Negotiate for peace but prepare for war" isn't merely their slogan, it is their practice; after all, it has been that way for nearly 6,000 years of recorded history.

What can we do about it? Lobotomize militarists?: now there's an idea whose time has come. Count me in on that one.

Posted by Taiwanlight  on  07/08  at  02:16 AM

There is an enormous black swan in this whole scenario which to my knowledge has never been mentioned before. If other aliens have already transcended, cyborgized, artilected, whatever term you want to coin, then they may be observing us and readying themselves for the time when we reach the Singularity. It is a little surprising we made it through the Cold War, don't you think? (and the following decades were also blood-curdling)

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