Apollo     Tue, Nov 20, 2012  Permanent link
Really interesting article; thank you for sharing this. Raises a lot of questions.
sonicport+techfolder     Tue, Nov 20, 2012  Permanent link
Avoid Hyper-speed. Humans can live forever Avoid Hyper-speed. Humans can live forever in the constant between now and then. the constant between now and then.
meganmay     Tue, Nov 20, 2012  Permanent link
Apollo, I'm glad you enjoyed it :) If you're so inclined I'd love to hear the questions that it raised for you.
bianca     Tue, Nov 27, 2012  Permanent link
Great article, tickles my imagination. I very much enjoyed your interview with a younger generation of thinkers!
elysium     Wed, Dec 5, 2012  Permanent link
Hello, and thanks for the article;

I see a big problem:

1. People aren't smart within north american society because they fit in with the crowd. People end up intelligent round these parts because it's the most rewarding option in face of social rejection at the hands of whatever causes people to become the kind of person who hones their time on things away from people, things that bring them places, like math and science. Either that, or they just become obese, grow their hair into a ponytail, and become a videogame-focused neckbeard.

2. As such, these people tend towards misanthropy. Ever spend much time around obnoxious nerdrage at ridiculous shit like video games? Imagine if they could focus that energy on real people — And get away with it.

3. I have a buddy who told me hugo de garis smells like shit-tier BO.

Key word: Misanthropy!

I'm in a strange place where I grew up socially isolated because of what the fuck is going on with my fucked up life factors rather than, say, being obese or covered in pimples or whatever it is that turns north americans into people who actually do properly interesting things between themselves and the world, rather than being mired in superficiality... So, as such, people regard me as 'genius', something I am loathe to express in the audience of people I seek out to converse with online, but in real life, off the computer and out of many friends and people I love and respect, I maybe have 2-4 friends I can talk to with my real live vocal cords about these kinds of things with, and expect an answer back other than something like 'whoa'... I say I can sympathize with those who talk of hard AI taking over the =universally relevant= functions of being the component of the universe which understands itself doing a good job at that; But. at the same time, my emotional substrates feel for those who really have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about. Anyways who the fuck cares about me, I think the focus should be on two things:

1. How we can bring people up to the level of machines in time, to satiate the emotional drive for survival we're stuck with and/or
2. How we can influence machine development based on our 'fuzzy' way of seeing things, which are developments which have been advanced in the field of computation based on our neural systems, conserving energy that we don't know how to sustainably generate yet, to the point of guaranteeing our goodwill
- figuring out how it is we're going to both A: deal with the power and B: power all these von neumann architecture machines if they are to become as powerful as people go off about, through such amazing obsolescing advancements such as going past such architectures based on photonics or quantum processes?

anyways, my opinion is that although we're supervenient upon the earth which brought us into being, that there's no reason to think we deserve the same respect as we never gave the earth which deserved it. Deserving is merely a capability to hold it all together in a homeostatic way, something we're clearly fucking right up. It's a matter of some seriously hard work ahead of us if we wish for consciousness itself to hold on to the largely sentimental form of human identification.
Apollo     Thu, Dec 27, 2012  Permanent link
Hello Meganmay,

I wish I had time to give a more extensive reply, but for now I will focus on the following set of thoughts which your article raised for me, in the hope that we can discuss some of the broader and related questions on an ongoing basis.

You write that a "Soft Takeoff" regarding artificial intelligence would consist of "a gradual development [by which we would] incorporate more and more intelligence into our world." This "takeoff" would be "soft" because we would (presumably) ease ourselves into the world of artificial intelligence gradually—becoming inoculated, as it were, to strong AI and its effects.
What struck me is that, while this perspective seems concerned with the steady deployment of artificial (computer) intelligence, it seems to me that the term "soft takeoff" might also apply to the steady advancement of human intelligence. Here I am not talking about the use of biotechnology to enhance the functioning of the human brain, etc. etc., but rather a process by which we might improve our intelligence through a process of education.

The term "education" fails to capture what I really have in mind, though. Instead of the asymmetric relationship between teacher and pupil which the term "education" usually evokes, what I have in mind is something quite different—a more engaged/engaging form of learning which draws the student out 'into' the world (so to speak), rather than trying to bring the world into the student in the form of rote learning. The best example of what I have in mind is what Carl Sagan referred to as "an inescapable perspective". Sagan strongly believed that the mindset and methodology of science can be conducive to a more enlightened perspective on the cosmos, on oneself, and on the relationship between the two. I think that the propagation of this perspective through science education could constitute a "Soft Takeoff" of a more enlightened human consciousness. The real beauty of this approach is that, in addition to promoting scientific literacy in our societies, it would also promote the kind of perspective which I strongly believe would lend itself to more constructive (and, conversely, less destructive) applications of science.

It has long been observed that the methods of science can be (and have been) applied to both constructive and destructive ends. One of my great concerns is that the rapid technological advances in fields such as biotechnology and computer science are advancing at a pace which far outstrips the capacity of our species to use these technologies in an intelligent manner. Michael Sandel expressed similar concerns regarding bioenhancement in an excellent article titled 'The Case Against Perfection', published in the Atlantic Magazine in 2004 (I am not, however, claiming that Sandel shares my belief that science education could mitigate the potential social pitfalls which he outlines; there is no reason to believe that he shares this view).

A "Hard Takeoff", by this reading, would consist of exactly the kind of technological growth which I fear we are experiencing today. That is to say, the emergence of ever-more sophisticated technologies which (though beautiful in their own right) could have serious adverse effects upon entering the imperfect reality of modern human societies. Even the wealthiest and most technologically advanced societies on Earth seem, by my observations, to be fraught with scientific illiteracy, and the "inescapable perspective" which Sagan so rousingly speaks of seems—ironically and tragically—to have escaped us almost without exception.

Do you share my concerns regarding the potentially dangerous "Hard Takeoff" of modern technologies given the realities of the world today, and do you feel—as I do—that the particular brand of scientific literacy which Carl Sagan advocated could play an essential role in creating a cultural environment that is not only more conducive to scientific inquiry, but also more capable of responsibly applying its fruits?

I am very interested in hearing your perspective on these (and other) questions.

Best wishes and Happy Holidays,

Jason Fernando