<snip> Why do you think it is unlikely to arise in machine intelligence?
Let's revisit what I wrote. --------------------------------------------- "When it's all functioning properly, and the neural network (ie. machine/sim/AI) makes its 40Hz scan or sweep of all relevant afferent and efferent neuronal activities, and blah blah blah blah.........
Then, without fail, consciousness just happens.
I personally don't believe we will, as humans, be able to accomplish this before we are destroyed either from within or without." ---------------------------------------------
In my defense, give my earlier post (the one with Bart Simpson at the bottom , where I expressed how pleased I was with the approach and methodologies used by Henry Markram and his team at Blue Brain) another quick read.
I think you'll see we have no disagreement.
I think we ARE likely to see a form of self-awareness and consciousness arise in machine intelligence IF we can accomplish it before something disastrous befalls us as a species and as custodians of our dear planet.
Best to you,
« Last Edit: 2008-03-08 17:14:51 by Walter Watts »
« Reply #16 on: 2008-03-08 20:57:15 »
[Hermit] <snip>once we instantiate spirothetic systems<snip>
well ... spirothetic sent me down a road of investigation, recursive within CoV as well out in cyberspace.
Again my sincere thanks to [blunderov] and [hermit] for launching and unfolding this topic.
I have discovered that Vernor Vinge is note worthy within the context of CoV, but the attached Chestnut seems to be appropriate here and reiterates Hermit's time lines.
My hat is off to the Virians of CoV.
[Hermit]PSs... PS1 All these years and I didn't know HAL+1 = IBM .... neat. PS2 Speaking of AI :-) I did get a Sinclair ZX81 kit from an add in Siam in 1982 and played in the 2K Ram. I'm always loathed to admit contact or to have consorted with the evil empire of HAL+1 (even though I did)... after DEC and OpenVMS , peace and tranquility came over my soul ...
The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era
Vernor Vinge Department of Mathematical Sciences San Diego State University
(c) 1993 by Vernor Vinge (Verbatim copying/translation and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.)
The original version of this article was presented at the VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, March 30-31, 1993. A slightly changed version appeared in the Winter 1993 issue of _Whole Earth Review_.
Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.
Is such progress avoidable? If not to be avoided, can events be guided so that we may survive? These questions are investigated. Some possible answers (and some further dangers) are presented.
_What is The Singularity?_
The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. I argue in this paper that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough (and this is another reason for having confidence that the event will occur): o There may be developed computers that are "awake" and superhumanly intelligent. (To date, there has been much controversy as to whether we can create human equivalence in a machine. But if the answer is "yes, we can", then there is little doubt that beings more intelligent can be constructed shortly thereafter.) o Large computer networks (and their associated users) may "wake up" as a superhumanly intelligent entity. o Computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent. o Biological science may provide means to improve natural human intellect.
The first three possibilities depend in large part on improvements in computer hardware. Progress in computer hardware has followed an amazingly steady curve in the last few decades . Based largely on this trend, I believe that the creation of greater than human intelligence will occur during the next thirty years. (Charles Platt  has pointed out that AI enthusiasts have been making claims like this for the last thirty years. Just so I'm not guilty of a relative-time ambiguity, let me more specific: I'll be surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030.)
What are the consequences of this event? When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities -- on a still-shorter time scale. The best analogy that I see is with the evolutionary past: Animals can adapt to problems and make inventions, but often no faster than natural selection can do its work -- the world acts as its own simulator in the case of natural selection. We humans have the ability to internalize the world and conduct "what if's" in our heads; we can solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection. Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher speeds, we are entering a regime as radically different from our human past as we humans are from the lower animals.
From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that before were thought might only happen in "a million years" (if ever) will likely happen in the next century. (In , Greg Bear paints a picture of the major changes happening in a matter of hours.)
I think it's fair to call this event a singularity ("the Singularity" for the purposes of this paper). It is a point where our old models must be discarded and a new reality rules. As we move closer to this point, it will loom vaster and vaster over human affairs till the notion becomes a commonplace. Yet when it finally happens it may still be a great surprise and a greater unknown. In the 1950s there were very few who saw it: Stan Ulam  paraphrased John von Neumann as saying:
One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.
Von Neumann even uses the term singularity, though it appears he is thinking of normal progress, not the creation of superhuman intellect. (For me, the superhumanity is the essence of the Singularity. Without that we would get a glut of technical riches, never properly absorbed (see ).)
In the 1960s there was recognition of some of the implications of superhuman intelligence. I. J. Good wrote :
Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an "intelligence explosion," and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the _last_ invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control. ... It is more probable than not that, within the twentieth century, an ultraintelligent machine will be built and that it will be the last invention that man need make.
Good has captured the essence of the runaway, but does not pursue its most disturbing consequences. Any intelligent machine of the sort he describes would not be humankind's "tool" -- any more than humans are the tools of rabbits or robins or chimpanzees.
Through the '60s and '70s and '80s, recognition of the cataclysm spread    . Perhaps it was the science-fiction writers who felt the first concrete impact. After all, the "hard" science-fiction writers are the ones who try to write specific stories about all that technology may do for us. More and more, these writers felt an opaque wall across the future. Once, they could put such fantasies millions of years in the future . Now they saw that their most diligent extrapolations resulted in the unknowable ... soon. Once, galactic empires might have seemed a Post-Human domain. Now, sadly, even interplanetary ones are.
What about the '90s and the '00s and the '10s, as we slide toward the edge? How will the approach of the Singularity spread across the human world view? For a while yet, the general critics of machine sapience will have good press. After all, till we have hardware as powerful as a human brain it is probably foolish to think we'll be able to create human equivalent (or greater) intelligence. (There is the far-fetched possibility that we could make a human equivalent out of less powerful hardware, if we were willing to give up speed, if we were willing to settle for an artificial being who was literally slow . But it's much more likely that devising the software will be a tricky process, involving lots of false starts and experimentation. If so, then the arrival of self-aware machines will not happen till after the development of hardware that is substantially more powerful than humans' natural equipment.)
But as time passes, we should see more symptoms. The dilemma felt by science fiction writers will be perceived in other creative endeavors. (I have heard thoughtful comic book writers worry about how to have spectacular effects when everything visible can be produced by the technologically commonplace.) We will see automation replacing higher and higher level jobs. We have tools right now (symbolic math programs, cad/cam) that release us from most low-level drudgery. Or put another way: The work that is truly productive is the domain of a steadily smaller and more elite fraction of humanity. In the coming of the Singularity, we are seeing the predictions of _true_ technological unemployment finally come true.
Another symptom of progress toward the Singularity: ideas themselves should spread ever faster, and even the most radical will quickly become commonplace. When I began writing science fiction in the middle '60s, it seemed very easy to find ideas that took decades to percolate into the cultural consciousness; now the lead time seems more like eighteen months. (Of course, this could just be me losing my imagination as I get old, but I see the effect in others too.) Like the shock in a compressible flow, the Singularity moves closer as we accelerate through the critical speed.
And what of the arrival of the Singularity itself? What can be said of its actual appearance? Since it involves an intellectual runaway, it will probably occur faster than any technical revolution seen so far. The precipitating event will likely be unexpected -- perhaps even to the researchers involved. ("But all our previous models were catatonic! We were just tweaking some parameters....") If networking is widespread enough (into ubiquitous embedded systems), it may seem as if our artifacts as a whole had suddenly wakened.
And what happens a month or two (or a day or two) after that? I have only analogies to point to: The rise of humankind. We will be in the Post-Human era. And for all my rampant technological optimism, sometimes I think I'd be more comfortable if I were regarding these transcendental events from one thousand years remove ... instead of twenty.
_Can the Singularity be Avoided?_
Well, maybe it won't happen at all: Sometimes I try to imagine the symptoms that we should expect to see if the Singularity is not to develop. There are the widely respected arguments of Penrose  and Searle  against the practicality of machine sapience. In August of 1992, Thinking Machines Corporation held a workshop to investigate the question "How We Will Build a Machine that Thinks" . As you might guess from the workshop's title, the participants were not especially supportive of the arguments against machine intelligence. In fact, there was general agreement that minds can exist on nonbiological substrates and that algorithms are of central importance to the existence of minds. However, there was much debate about the raw hardware power that is present in organic brains. A minority felt that the largest 1992 computers were within three orders of magnitude of the power of the human brain. The majority of the participants agreed with Moravec's estimate  that we are ten to forty years away from hardware parity. And yet there was another minority who pointed to  , and conjectured that the computational competence of single neurons may be far higher than generally believed. If so, our present computer hardware might be as much as _ten_ orders of magnitude short of the equipment we carry around in our heads. If this is true (or for that matter, if the Penrose or Searle critique is valid), we might never see a Singularity. Instead, in the early '00s we would find our hardware performance curves beginning to level off -- this because of our inability to automate the design work needed to support further hardware improvements. We'd end up with some _very_ powerful hardware, but without the ability to push it further. Commercial digital signal processing might be awesome, giving an analog appearance even to digital operations, but nothing would ever "wake up" and there would never be the intellectual runaway which is the essence of the Singularity. It would likely be seen as a golden age ... and it would also be an end of progress. This is very like the future predicted by Gunther Stent. In fact, on page 137 of , Stent explicitly cites the development of transhuman intelligence as a sufficient condition to break his projections.
But if the technological Singularity can happen, it will. Even if all the governments of the world were to understand the "threat" and be in deadly fear of it, progress toward the goal would continue. In fiction, there have been stories of laws passed forbidding the construction of "a machine in the likeness of the human mind" . In fact, the competitive advantage -- economic, military, even artistic -- of every advance in automation is so compelling that passing laws, or having customs, that forbid such things merely assures that someone else will get them first.
Eric Drexler  has provided spectacular insights about how far technical improvement may go. He agrees that superhuman intelligences will be available in the near future -- and that such entities pose a threat to the human status quo. But Drexler argues that we can confine such transhuman devices so that their results can be examined and used safely. This is I. J. Good's ultraintelligent machine, with a dose of caution. I argue that confinement is intrinsically impractical. For the case of physical confinement: Imagine yourself locked in your home with only limited data access to the outside, to your masters. If those masters thought at a rate -- say -- one million times slower than you, there is little doubt that over a period of years (your time) you could come up with "helpful advice" that would incidentally set you free. (I call this "fast thinking" form of superintelligence "weak superhumanity". Such a "weakly superhuman" entity would probably burn out in a few weeks of outside time. "Strong superhumanity" would be more than cranking up the clock speed on a human-equivalent mind. It's hard to say precisely what "strong superhumanity" would be like, but the difference appears to be profound. Imagine running a dog mind at very high speed. Would a thousand years of doggy living add up to any human insight? (Now if the dog mind were cleverly rewired and _then_ run at high speed, we might see something different....) Many speculations about superintelligence seem to be based on the weakly superhuman model. I believe that our best guesses about the post-Singularity world can be obtained by thinking on the nature of strong superhumanity. I will return to this point later in the paper.)
Another approach to confinement is to build _rules_ into the mind of the created superhuman entity (for example, Asimov's Laws ). I think that any rules strict enough to be effective would also produce a device whose ability was clearly inferior to the unfettered versions (and so human competition would favor the development of the those more dangerous models). Still, the Asimov dream is a wonderful one: Imagine a willing slave, who has 1000 times your capabilities in every way. Imagine a creature who could satisfy your every safe wish (whatever that means) and still have 99.9% of its time free for other activities. There would be a new universe we never really understood, but filled with benevolent gods (though one of _my_ wishes might be to become one of them).
If the Singularity can not be prevented or confined, just how bad could the Post-Human era be? Well ... pretty bad. The physical extinction of the human race is one possibility. (Or as Eric Drexler put it of nanotechnology: Given all that such technology can do, perhaps governments would simply decide that they no longer need citizens!). Yet physical extinction may not be the scariest possibility. Again, analogies: Think of the different ways we relate to animals. Some of the crude physical abuses are implausible, yet.... In a Post-Human world there would still be plenty of niches where human equivalent automation would be desirable: embedded systems in autonomous devices, self-aware daemons in the lower functioning of larger sentients. (A strongly superhuman intelligence would likely be a Society of Mind  with some very competent components.) Some of these human equivalents might be used for nothing more than digital signal processing. They would be more like whales than humans. Others might be very human-like, yet with a one-sidedness, a _dedication_ that would put them in a mental hospital in our era. Though none of these creatures might be flesh-and-blood humans, they might be the closest things in the new enviroment to what we call human now. (I. J. Good had something to say about this, though at this late date the advice may be moot: Good  proposed a "Meta-Golden Rule", which might be paraphrased as "Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors." It's a wonderful, paradoxical idea (and most of my friends don't believe it) since the game-theoretic payoff is so hard to articulate. Yet if we were able to follow it, in some sense that might say something about the plausibility of such kindness in this universe.)
I have argued above that we cannot prevent the Singularity, that its coming is an inevitable consequence of the humans' natural competitiveness and the possibilities inherent in technology. And yet ... we are the initiators. Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things. We have the freedom to establish initial conditions, make things happen in ways that are less inimical than others. Of course (as with starting avalanches), it may not be clear what the right guiding nudge really is:
_Other Paths to the Singularity: Intelligence Amplification_
When people speak of creating superhumanly intelligent beings, they are usually imagining an AI project. But as I noted at the beginning of this paper, there are other paths to superhumanity. Computer networks and human-computer interfaces seem more mundane than AI, and yet they could lead to the Singularity. I call this contrasting approach Intelligence Amplification (IA). IA is something that is proceeding very naturally, in most cases not even recognized by its developers for what it is. But every time our ability to access information and to communicate it to others is improved, in some sense we have achieved an increase over natural intelligence. Even now, the team of a PhD human and good computer workstation (even an off-net workstation!) could probably max any written intelligence test in existence.
And it's very likely that IA is a much easier road to the achievement of superhumanity than pure AI. In humans, the hardest development problems have already been solved. Building up from within ourselves ought to be easier than figuring out first what we really are and then building machines that are all of that. And there is at least conjectural precedent for this approach. Cairns-Smith  has speculated that biological life may have begun as an adjunct to still more primitive life based on crystalline growth. Lynn Margulis (in  and elsewhere) has made strong arguments that mutualism is a great driving force in evolution.
Note that I am not proposing that AI research be ignored or less funded. What goes on with AI will often have applications in IA, and vice versa. I am suggesting that we recognize that in network and interface research there is something as profound (and potential wild) as Artificial Intelligence. With that insight, we may see projects that are not as directly applicable as conventional interface and network design work, but which serve to advance us toward the Singularity along the IA path.
Here are some possible projects that take on special significance, given the IA point of view: o Human/computer team automation: Take problems that are normally considered for purely machine solution (like hill-climbing problems), and design programs and interfaces that take a advantage of humans' intuition and available computer hardware. Considering all the bizarreness of higher dimensional hill-climbing problems (and the neat algorithms that have been devised for their solution), there could be some very interesting displays and control tools provided to the human team member. o Develop human/computer symbiosis in art: Combine the graphic generation capability of modern machines and the esthetic sensibility of humans. Of course, there has been an enormous amount of research in designing computer aids for artists, as labor saving tools. I'm suggesting that we explicitly aim for a greater merging of competence, that we explicitly recognize the cooperative approach that is possible. Karl Sims  has done wonderful work in this direction. o Allow human/computer teams at chess tournaments. We already have programs that can play better than almost all humans. But how much work has been done on how this power could be used by a human, to get something even better? If such teams were allowed in at least some chess tournaments, it could have the positive effect on IA research that allowing computers in tournaments had for the corresponding niche in AI. o Develop interfaces that allow computer and network access without requiring the human to be tied to one spot, sitting in front of a computer. (This is an aspect of IA that fits so well with known economic advantages that lots of effort is already being spent on it.) o Develop more symmetrical decision support systems. A popular research/product area in recent years has been decision support systems. This is a form of IA, but may be too focussed on systems that are oracular. As much as the program giving the user information, there must be the idea of the user giving the program guidance. o Use local area nets to make human teams that really work (ie, are more effective than their component members). This is generally the area of "groupware", already a very popular commercial pursuit. The change in viewpoint here would be to regard the group activity as a combination organism. In one sense, this suggestion might be regarded as the goal of inventing a "Rules of Order" for such combination operations. For instance, group focus might be more easily maintained than in classical meetings. Expertise of individual human members could be isolated from ego issues such that the contribution of different members is focussed on the team project. And of course shared data bases could be used much more conveniently than in conventional committee operations. (Note that this suggestion is aimed at team operations rather than political meetings. In a political setting, the automation described above would simply enforce the power of the persons making the rules!) o Exploit the worldwide Internet as a combination human/machine tool. Of all the items on the list, progress in this is proceeding the fastest and may run us into the Singularity before anything else. The power and influence of even the present-day Internet is vastly underestimated. For instance, I think our contemporary computer systems would break under the weight of their own complexity if it weren't for the edge that the USENET "group mind" gives the system administration and support people! The very anarchy of the worldwide net development is evidence of its potential. As connectivity and bandwidth and archive size and computer speed all increase, we are seeing something like Lynn Margulis'  vision of the biosphere as data processor recapitulated, but at a million times greater speed and with millions of humanly intelligent agents (ourselves).
The above examples illustrate research that can be done within the context of contemporary computer science departments. There are other paradigms. For example, much of the work in Artificial Intelligence and neural nets would benefit from a closer connection with biological life. Instead of simply trying to model and understand biological life with computers, research could be directed toward the creation of composite systems that rely on biological life for guidance or for the providing features we don't understand well enough yet to implement in hardware. A long-time dream of science-fiction has been direct brain to computer interfaces  . In fact, there is concrete work that can be done (and is being done) in this area: o Limb prosthetics is a topic of direct commercial applicability. Nerve to silicon transducers can be made . This is an exciting, near-term step toward direct communication. o Direct links into brains seem feasible, if the bit rate is low: given human learning flexibility, the actual brain neuron targets might not have to be precisely selected. Even 100 bits per second would be of great use to stroke victims who would otherwise be confined to menu-driven interfaces. o Plugging in to the optic trunk has the potential for bandwidths of 1 Mbit/second or so. But for this, we need to know the fine-scale architecture of vision, and we need to place an enormous web of electrodes with exquisite precision. If we want our high bandwidth connection to be _in addition_ to what paths are already present in the brain, the problem becomes vastly more intractable. Just sticking a grid of high-bandwidth receivers into a brain certainly won't do it. But suppose that the high-bandwidth grid were present while the brain structure was actually setting up, as the embryo develops. That suggests: o Animal embryo experiments. I wouldn't expect any IA success in the first years of such research, but giving developing brains access to complex simulated neural structures might be very interesting to the people who study how the embryonic brain develops. In the long run, such experiments might produce animals with additional sense paths and interesting intellectual abilities.
Originally, I had hoped that this discussion of IA would yield some clearly safer approaches to the Singularity. (After all, IA allows our participation in a kind of transcendance.) Alas, looking back over these IA proposals, about all I am sure of is that they should be considered, that they may give us more options. But as for safety ... well, some of the suggestions are a little scarey on their face. One of my informal reviewers pointed out that IA for individual humans creates a rather sinister elite. We humans have millions of years of evolutionary baggage that makes us regard competition in a deadly light. Much of that deadliness may not be necessary in today's world, one where losers take on the winners' tricks and are coopted into the winners' enterprises. A creature that was built _de novo_ might possibly be a much more benign entity than one with a kernel based on fang and talon. And even the egalitarian view of an Internet that wakes up along with all mankind can be viewed as a nightmare .
The problem is not simply that the Singularity represents the passing of humankind from center stage, but that it contradicts our most deeply held notions of being. I think a closer look at the notion of strong superhumanity can show why that is.
_Strong Superhumanity and the Best We Can Ask for_
Suppose we could tailor the Singularity. Suppose we could attain our most extravagant hopes. What then would we ask for: That humans themselves would become their own successors, that whatever injustice occurs would be tempered by our knowledge of our roots. For those who remained unaltered, the goal would be benign treatment (perhaps even giving the stay-behinds the appearance of being masters of godlike slaves). It could be a golden age that also involved progress (overleaping Stent's barrier). Immortality (or at least a lifetime as long as we can make the universe survive  ) would be achievable.
But in this brightest and kindest world, the philosophical problems themselves become intimidating. A mind that stays at the same capacity cannot live forever; after a few thousand years it would look more like a repeating tape loop than a person. (The most chilling picture I have seen of this is in .) To live indefinitely long, the mind itself must grow ... and when it becomes great enough, and looks back ... what fellow-feeling can it have with the soul that it was originally? Certainly the later being would be everything the original was, but so much vastly more. And so even for the individual, the Cairns-Smith or Lynn Margulis notion of new life growing incrementally out of the old must still be valid.
This "problem" about immortality comes up in much more direct ways. The notion of ego and self-awareness has been the bedrock of the hardheaded rationalism of the last few centuries. Yet now the notion of self-awareness is under attack from the Artificial Intelligence people ("self-awareness and other delusions"). Intelligence Amplification undercuts our concept of ego from another direction. The post-Singularity world will involve extremely high-bandwidth networking. A central feature of strongly superhuman entities will likely be their ability to communicate at variable bandwidths, including ones far higher than speech or written messages. What happens when pieces of ego can be copied and merged, when the size of a selfawareness can grow or shrink to fit the nature of the problems under consideration? These are essential features of strong superhumanity and the Singularity. Thinking about them, one begins to feel how essentially strange and different the Post-Human era will be -- _no matter how cleverly and benignly it is brought to be_.
From one angle, the vision fits many of our happiest dreams: a time unending, where we can truly know one another and understand the deepest mysteries. From another angle, it's a lot like the worst- case scenario I imagined earlier in this paper.
Which is the valid viewpoint? In fact, I think the new era is simply too different to fit into the classical frame of good and evil. That frame is based on the idea of isolated, immutable minds connected by tenuous, low-bandwith links. But the post-Singularity world _does_ fit with the larger tradition of change and cooperation that started long ago (perhaps even before the rise of biological life). I think there _are_ notions of ethics that would apply in such an era. Research into IA and high-bandwidth communications should improve this understanding. I see just the glimmerings of this now . There is Good's Meta-Golden Rule; perhaps there are rules for distinguishing self from others on the basis of bandwidth of connection. And while mind and self will be vastly more labile than in the past, much of what we value (knowledge, memory, thought) need never be lost. I think Freeman Dyson has it right when he says : "God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension."
[I wish to thank John Carroll of San Diego State University and Howard Davidson of Sun Microsystems for discussing the draft version of this paper with me.]
_Annotated Sources [and an occasional plea for bibliographical help]_
 Alfve'n, Hannes, writing as Olof Johanneson, _The End of Man?_, Award Books, 1969 earlier published as "The Tale of the Big Computer", Coward-McCann, translated from a book copyright 1966 Albert Bonniers Forlag AB with English translation copyright 1966 by Victor Gollanz, Ltd.
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 Asimov, Isaac, "Runaround", _Astounding Science Fiction_, March 1942, p94. Reprinted in _Robot Visions_, Isaac Asimov, ROC, 1990. Asimov describes the development of his robotics stories in this book.
 Barrow, John D. and Frank J. Tipler, _The Anthropic Cosmological Principle_, Oxford University Press, 1986.
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 Cairns-Smith, A. G., _Seven Clues to the Origin of Life_, Cambridge University Press, 1985.
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 Good, I. J., [Help! I can't find the source of Good's Meta-Golden Rule, though I have the clear recollection of hearing about it sometime in the 1960s. Through the help of the net, I have found pointers to a number of related items. G. Harry Stine and Andrew Haley have written about metalaw as it might relate to extraterrestrials: G. Harry Stine, "How to Get along with Extraterrestrials ... or Your Neighbor", _Analog Science Fact- Science Fiction_, February, 1980, p39-47.]
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 Sims, Karl, "Interactive Evolution of Dynamical Systems", Thinking Machines Corporation, Technical Report Series (published in _Toward a Practice of Autonomous Systems: Proceedings of the First European Conference on Artificial Life_, Paris, MIT Press, December 1991.
 Stapledon, Olaf, _The Starmaker_, Berkley Books, 1961 (but from the date on forward, probably written before 1937).
 Stent, Gunther S., _The Coming of the Golden Age: A View of the End of Progress_, The Natural History Press, 1969.
 Swanwick Michael, _Vacuum Flowers_, serialized in _Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine_, December(?) 1986 - February 1987. Republished by Ace Books, 1988.
 Thearling, Kurt, "How We Will Build a Machine that Thinks", a workshop at Thinking Machines Corporation, August 24-26, 1992. Personal Communication.
 Ulam, S., Tribute to John von Neumann, _Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society_, vol 64, nr 3, part 2, May 1958, pp1-49.
 Vinge, Vernor, "Bookworm, Run!", _Analog_, March 1966, pp8-40. Reprinted in _True Names and Other Dangers_, Vernor Vinge, Baen Books, 1987.
 Vinge, Vernor, "True Names", _Binary Star Number 5_, Dell, 1981. Reprinted in _True Names and Other Dangers_, Vernor Vinge, Baen Books, 1987.
 Vinge, Vernor, First Word, _Omni_, January 1983, p10.
« Reply #17 on: 2008-03-09 03:01:32 »
Interesting and appropriate. Thank-you Fritz.
Who owned several Sinclair Radionics mini Amplifiers (gorgeous and very nice sound driving horn speakers in class A, but very prone to blowing the output stages), 3 black watches (beautiful until the membrane keyboard jammed on and ran the batteries down) and 2 Sinclair Calculators (wonderful bargains until the overloaded common collector display drivers burned out), so by the time the ZX computers were released I knew much better than to buy a computer from him - even though I really liked the Z80 processor (which undoubtedly has one of the cleanest instruction sets ever designed - and I still admire the alternate register set which allowed magnificent RTOS responses).
« Reply #18 on: 2008-03-10 22:29:50 »
[Hermit] I think Lucifer was addressing Fox, who made some silly comments about AI and neuroscience, both of which could be invalidated just by reading Science, never mind infield journals…
[Fox] I'm more or less constantly anticipating the efforts in the AI section. Optimistic estimations in Science, I think, are not likely to invalidate my perspective though. Or if so I’d be happy to be proven mistaken. But I'm still not aware of any proven step towards "real" artificial intelligence (what we're discussing, not AI in the context of IT methodology).
[Hermit] As to having to emulate practically every bit of everything, I'm almost certain that much of the human brain is not only unnecessary to create a human scale AI, but comprises evolutionary artifacts unneeded by and possibly even harmful to humans. A number of fairly brutally simplified simulations (high volume and performance emulators though) of the major brain sub systems seems from the literature to be likely sufficient to achieve a human class and scale of thinking.
[Fox] I think it is highly dependant on how you define "intelligence". It can range from adding numbers/algothrims, to survival in a natural environment. Adding numbers and playing chess have definitely been mastered by machines for instance. But human scale "intelligence", and self-awareness in a natural environment are a completely different story.
[Hermit] As for self-awareness, looking at animal studies (including humans), self-awareness appears to be an artifact that arises as a consequence of the level and complexity of thought to which the brain is put. Why do you think it is unlikely to arise in machine intelligence?
[Fox] I’m not sure if you were addressing me with you're post or not, or perhaps both me and Walter, but I’ll share my thoughts.
[Fox] Why do I think it is unlikely to arise in machine intelligence? Simply because complexity is not enough. There has to be a semanticall context for self-awareness. Do you expect a software program to suddenly awaken some day and recognize "hey, I'm a software program"? As tempting as this might be (despite my affection towards attractive cylons), this sounds absurd. Self-awareness is a semantical level of information processing. It cannot exist without context. It would not even have a language to communicate with us, and would probably take decades to train such a machine to fully adapt to one, or ours at least. What’s more is that current simulations and estimates seem not to account for the importance of Glial cells, which outnumber neurons by approximately 10:1 and which themselves are, presently, only understood in the broadest of outlines. And then we have unconscious problem solving which humans seem very prone to use in both reasoning and problem solving (such as commonsense) and are considered by some to be essential when faced with difficulties. Can we assume that machines will be at least as equally as capable in using and applying this method of thinking? As far as I know AI research has only been able to model step-by-step conscious deduction. Human scale of thinking?
[Fox] You surely know how powerful the neo cortex of a dolphin is. Yet, as far as I know, dolphins have shown no propensity to behave "intelligent" in a human sense, nor on a human scale (Douglas Adams aside). Perhaps we will be able to create artificial intelligence, or perhaps powerful and complex machines will (somehow) evolve themselves. But if so, it would be a very strange kind of intelligence, and not the romantic, anthropocentric vision that we have I think. I'm not even sure if we could actually recognize its "intelligence". And not only because of incompatible communication but also because of a completely different nature, and it's different context. We would have no common semantics.
[Lucifer] If you think there has been no progress in AI then I suggest you haven't been paying attention. Here's a note from someone who is actively working on AI (a former colleague from a2i2) >> http://www.vetta.org/?p=28
[Fox] If we are discussing the artificial construction of human intelligence, then, as far as I understand it there has been no significant progress in this direction whatsoever. Projects, such as the ASIMO series, Chatterbots (i.e. Jabberwacky) and CALO are all built with traditional computer programs and have nothing to do with real intelligence. They use some IT methodology like neural networks and expert systems don't they?
[Fox] If we are discussing AI as an IT methodology, there is of course some progress, even if it has slowed down since the 80s.
ps: I would just like to note here that I am not qualified in this field and that the above is the result of some (previous) research and a little experience. A lot of it by memory too. At worst it's probably just me trying to make heads and tails of this curious subject.
« Reply #19 on: 2008-03-11 21:02:07 »
[Fox] If we are discussing the artificial construction of human intelligence, then, as far as I understand it there has been no significant progress in this direction whatsoever. Projects, such as the ASIMO series, Chatterbots (i.e. Jabberwacky) and CALO are all built with traditional computer programs and have nothing to do with real intelligence. They use some IT methodology like neural networks and expert systems don't they?
[Lucifer] Well you can keep asserting there has been no progress in AGI or you can go take a look at http://www.agi-08.org/
« Reply #20 on: 2008-03-11 21:45:23 »
Timely and on the news stands:
Scientific American Reports: Special Edition on Robotics , Volume 18 Number 1, 2008 (April)
Including the article: The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine, by Ray Kurzweil
The readings seem to suggest to me, that I will be more respectful of my "Toaster" and no longer talk back to the "Microwave" when it burns the popcorn.
It all reads to me, that the singularity is much closer then the thread has suggested and that AI isn't dependent on the 'mother of all computers'.
The hair standing on the back of my neck questions is; Where will this AI gleen it's Morality ? Certainly not a new question or original I realize; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley laid it before the industrial age, but it belongs up on the list again as the bewitching hour, much to my surprise, nears.
PS Is SCIAM scanning CoV for editorial direction ? :-)
Runaway Artificial Intelligence? by J. Storrs Hall
Synthetic computer-based artificial intelligence will become available well before nanotechnology makes neuron-level brain scans possible in the 2020s -- it's already a short step to computer systems that make better decisions than corporate managers do, says J. Storrs Hall.
Originally published in The Futurist March-April 2006. Reprinted on KurzweilAI.net February 3, 2006.
« Reply #21 on: 2008-03-11 22:04:44 »
"it's already a short step to computer systems that make better decisions than corporate managers do"
Not that this is a particularly significant challenge :-) At least one active duty US "Officer of the Year" as selected by superiors and subordinates' personnel evaluation reports has been an AI. Of course, giving how well the military are doing these days that might have been even less of a challenge than outperforming corporate mismanagement.
PS Nice link thank-you Lucifer. Particularly some of the workshop papers.
Australian man killed by suicide robot The last best thing you'll ever build
By Austin Modine Published Friday 21st March 2008 01:59 GMT
An elderly Australian man apparently shot himself dead Tuesday, using an elaborate suicide robot of his own construction, according to media reports. The 81-year-old man who lived alone in Burleigh Heads left a note detailing his macabre machinations, as well as his grievances over his relatives demanding he be committed to a nursing home. The man reportedly had spent hours researching on the internet for a suitable way to do himself in before he came upon the plans for a complex murder machine, which he built and armed with a .22 caliber handgun. Local newspaper The Gold Coast Bulletin would not reveal the exact nature of the machine, but said it was loaded with four bullets and was capable of firing multiple shots once activated by remote control. After moving the robot to his driveway, he placed himself in front of the device and set the controls to up yours, Asimov. In his notes, the man said he chose the driveway because he knew tradesmen working next door would see his body. His grisly plan was executed perfectly. The man was soon found dead by the workers — alerted by the sound of gunfire.
Waiting for the Rapture One day a machine will blink into consciousness, but it’s just wishful thinking to believe that people could escape death by uploading their minds. By Glenn Zorpette
INTERACTIVE Mapping the Body Electric Human senses and body parts are increasingly augmented by a stunning array of high-tech devices. View our three-dimensional model to gauge progress toward the age of cyborgs.
Signs of the Singularity The writer who first postulated the singularity answers skeptics and tells us what to look for as the world slips closer to the edge. By Vernor Vinge
VIDEO How to Prepare for the Singularity Vernor Vinge on the run-up to the singularity and what technologists can do to engineer the best outcome for humans.
The Singularity: Who’s Who A guide the singularity true believers, atheists, and agnostics. By Paul Wallich
Two Paths to the Singularity MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld and technology futurist Ray Kurzweil both believe that we are on the event horizon of a technological singularity. By Tekla S. Perry
The Consciousness Conundrum How can we hope to create consciousness if we don't know anything about it? By John Horgan
Tech Luminaries Address the Singularity Candid assessments from leading voices such as Steven Pinker, Gordon Moore, Esther Dyson, and more
Can Machines Be Conscious? Yes, someday—and here’s one way to determine if they are. By Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi
VIDEO Teaching Machines to Watch Blade Runner Christof Koch explains how we can use visual illusions and scenes to explore the difference between our conscious and unconscious perception.
Plus: Do You Need a Quantum Computer to Achieve Machine Consciousness?
And: A Bit of Theory: Consciousness as Integrated Information
I, Rodney Brooks, Am a Robot As our machines become more like us, we will become more like them. By Rodney Brooks
VIDEO The Singularity: Neither Heaven nor Hell Rodney Brooks on why the evolution of superhuman intelligence will be a slow process.
Rupturing the Nanotech Rapture Tiny robots that can fix all our bodily flaws sound lovely, but they violate the laws of physics. By Richard A.L. Jones
SLIDE SHOW Born Bionic These robots are pushing the envelope of humanoid design—they can play the violin, unload a dishwasher, and climb stairs.
Reverse Engineering the Brain To David Adler, the human brain is just really advanced nanotechnology. By Sally Adee
VIDEO Tapping the Computing Power of the Unconscious Brain Neuroscientist Paul Sajda, of Columbia University, uses the human vision system for computerized image sorting [coming soon].
Economics of the Singularity Machines of merely human intellect could put humans out of work if they were cheap enough. By Robin Hanson
Teaching AI to Be Sociable Humans can already form social bonds with robots, but the real trick may be getting AI equally interested in us [coming soon]. By Jeremy Hsu
Singular Simplicity The argument for technological fabulism rests on baseless extrapolations. By Alfred Nordmann
Timeline: Age of Invention
Singularity Index A graphical guide to intelligent machines in pop culture.
Synopsis What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off? Academy Award®-winning writer-director Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo”) and the inventive storytellers and technical geniuses at Pixar Animation Studios (“The Incredibles,” “Cars,” “Ratatouille”) transport moviegoers to a galaxy not so very far away for a new computer-animated cosmic comedy about a determined robot named WALL•E. After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, WALL•E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. EVE comes to realize that WALL•E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet’s future, and races back to space to report her findings to the humans (who have been eagerly awaiting word that it is safe to return home). Meanwhile, WALL•E chases EVE across the galaxy and sets into motion one of the most exciting and imaginative comedy adventures ever brought to the big screen. Joining WALL•E on his fantastic journey across a universe of never-before-imagined visions of the future, is a hilarious cast of characters including a pet cockroach, and a heroic team of malfunctioning misfit robots
« Reply #26 on: 2008-06-19 10:48:29 »
Yet another milestone !
IBM wins supercomputing bakeoff; Playstation chips rule; Intel dominates HPC
Source: ZDNet Blogs Author: Larry Dignan Date: June 18th, 2008
Supercomputers are like muscle cars for IT: Few of us have one, but boy they are fun to look at. IBM on Tuesday touted that its supercomputer built for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos National Lab is the most powerful system in the world. It sustained 1.02 petaflops or a 1.02 quadrillian calculations per second. Confession: I can’t even wrap my little head around a term like quadrillian. But it’s all good fun. IBM’s supercomputer (right) was rated top dog by the Top 500 organization (statement) compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The group is the official scorekeeper of supercomputers (top 100 list). After IBM’s supercomputer, dubbed “Roadrunner,” the final four fastest systems were: • The IBM BlueGene/P (450.3 teraflop/s) at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory • The Sun SunBlade x6420 “Ranger” system (326 teraflop/s) at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas - Austin. • The upgraded Cray XT4 “Jaguar” (205 teraflop/s) at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. These bake-offs are a big deal for technology’s biggest players although these wins don’t exactly make or break quarters. It’s all about the bragging rights. Big Blue says [url=http://biz.yahoo.com/iw/080618/0408074.html][/url] in its statement: Built by IBM for the NNSA and housed at its Los Alamos National Laboratory, the petaflop-smashing system gets its world-leading power from 12,240 IBM PowerXCell 8i Cell Broadband Engine(TM) processors — derived from chips that power today’s most popular videogame consoles. 6,562 AMD Opteron Dual-Core processors perform basic compute functions, freeing the IBM PowerXCell 8i chips for the math-intensive calculations that are their specialty. This “hybrid” architecture, which optimizes the strength of multiple types of processors, is an IBM hallmark. The design is analogous to that of a hybrid car with similar benefits. For example, if the NNSA supercomputer were built with standard x86 chips alone, the system would have been significantly larger and would have required much more power. At least all those Cell processors are being used for more than gaming on the Playstation 3. The NNSA supercomputer keeps tabs on the United States nuclear stockpile. Among the key points about Roadrunner: • It’s made from commercial parts and gives AMD a nice win. Roadrunner connects 6,948 dual-core AMD Opteron chips (on IBM Model LS21 blade servers) as well as 12,960 Cell engines (on IBM Model QS22 blade servers). The Roadrunner system has 80 terabytes of memory, and is housed in 288 refrigerator-sized, IBM BladeCenter racks occupying 6,000 square feet. Its 10,000 connections — both Infiniband and Gigabit Ethernet — require 57 miles of fiber optic cable. Roadrunner weighs 500,000 pounds so it’s not exactly portable. • Roadrunner runs on a “tri-blade” configuration. IBM did a custom configuration where it combines two IBM QS22 blade servers and one IBM LS21 blade server. There are 3,456 tri-blades in Roadrunner. • Roadrunner will be shipped to Los Alamos on 21 tractor trailers later this summer. The machine was built in IBM’s Poughkeepsie plant. While Roadrunner gives AMD some attention a few nuggets from the Top 500 list put things into perspective. Among the notable items: • Intel continues to power an increasing number, with Intel processors now found in 75 percent of the TOP500 supercomputers, up from 70.8 percent in November’s list. • Quad-core processor based systems have taken over the top 500 list with 283 systems using them. Dual core systems power 203 systems and 11 systems have single cores. Three systems use IBM’s Sony Playstation 3 processor with nine cores. • The U.S. is the leading consumer of HPC systems with 257 of the 500 systems. • The European share (184 systems - up from 149 in November) is rising with Asia lagging (48 systems down from 58 systems). • The top industrial company is Total, the French oil company. • HP is giving IBM a run. Among the top 500 list, IBM held the lead with 210 systems (42 percent) over Hewlett Packard with 183 systems (36.6 percent). The catch: IBM had 232 systems (46.4 percent) six months ago, compared to HP with 166 systems (33.2 percent). • The top 500 list is tracking power consumption. IBM’s QS22 Cell processor blades are delivering up to 488 Mflop/s/Watt followed by IBM BlueGene/P systems (up to 376 Mflop/s/Watt). Intel quad core blade systems are catching up though: IBM’s BladeCenter HS21with low-power processors (up to 265 Mflop/s/Watt), SGI’s Altix ICE 8200EX Xeon quad-core nodes, (up to 240 Mflop/s/Watt) and Hewlett-Packard Cluster Platform 3000 BL2×220 with double density blades (up to 227 Mflop/s/Watt) round out the next power efficiency tier.
« Reply #27 on: 2008-06-19 12:27:21 »
Thanks for this.
Notice that this list only includes systems that enter benchmark numbers, excluding e.g. the NSA systems (which are huge, probably exceeding the DOE systems in capacity and throughput) and how quickly the giant Fujitsu systems used by Japan for meteorology have dropped down the list. What a pity that the transputer dead-ended (even though, to an extent, its architecture lives on in the IBM designs).
I find the use of non-metric numbers silly and annoying. I find "Peta" (1015) a great deal more meaningful than "quadrillion" as the use of metric multipliers lends itself to simple comparisons, e.g. Peta is 1'000 times greater than Terra (1012), visible on inspection as (1015) / (1012) so (through log10) 15 - 12 = 3 and therefore we know that the answer is (103) which is of course 10 * 10 * 10 or 1'000.
According to a CNN article, inventor, author and futurist Dr. Raymond Kurzweil, calculates that “humans will become more non-biological than biological” by the 2030s.
In his book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil predicts a “future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.” This Singularity, as Kurzweil calls it, will be “the culmination of the merger of our biological thinking and existence with our technology, resulting in a world that is still human but that transcends our biological roots.”
Kurzweil believes we are already in the early stages of this transition and that the pace of the transformation will accelerate exponentially. By 2020, Kurzweil believes we will witness “a second revolution in the area of nanotechnology.” By the 2030s, we will be “capable of uploading our minds onto the Internet, living in various virtual worlds and even avoiding aging and evading death.” By the 2040s, “non-biological intelligence will be billions of times better than the biological intelligence humans have today, possibly rendering our present brains as obsolete.”
While Kurzweil is an undoubted technology optimist, he acknowledges the “grave dangers” new technologies might pose for humankind. “Technology has always been a double-edge sword,” Kurzweil told CNN.
I haven’t read Kurzweil’s book, but I’m not sure I buy all his predictions. A few unforeseen catastrophes could derail his timeline. Furthermore, reviewers on Amazon write that Kurzweil offer detailed technical explanations for his assertions, but fails to examine how our social, political, and religious systems might influence his predictions. I’ll have to read Kurzweil’s book and see for myself.