‘We Are the Biological Boot-Loader for Digital Super-Intelligence’

March 27th, 2017

While centered around Elon Musk, this piece also takes a broader look at where AI is headed, and some of the personalities involved. Everyone has heard of AI, but superintelligence is where the crazy comes out. If you don’t know what superintelligence is, and you like stuff that straddles the line between sci-fi and fantasy, read on.

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom goes deeply into the the types of mistakes that might be made with AI that could cause humans to lose control of it.* In short, if humans manage to create a superintelligence, it will almost certainly (much more likely than might) wipe us out. It might not be so much because it has any particular hatred for us, or anything like that. We could simply become irrelevant to it.

Can you tell by my italicizing of the weasel words above that this whole superintelligence thing is mostly about a bunch of whiteboard speculation at this point?

Ok, good.

Now, are you aware of running over insects as you speed along an open highway in your car?

For a superintelligence, exterminating all of humanity could be like that.

Have a nice day.

Via: Vanity Fair:

Musk believes that it is better to try to get super-A.I. first and distribute the technology to the world than to allow the algorithms to be concealed and concentrated in the hands of tech or government elites—even when the tech elites happen to be his own friends, people such as Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. “I’ve had many conversations with Larry about A.I. and robotics—many, many,” Musk told me. “And some of them have gotten quite heated. You know, I think it’s not just Larry, but there are many futurists who feel a certain inevitability or fatalism about robots, where we’d have some sort of peripheral role. The phrase used is ‘We are the biological boot-loader for digital super-intelligence.’ ” (A boot loader is the small program that launches the operating system when you first turn on your computer.) “Matter can’t organize itself into a chip,” Musk explained. “But it can organize itself into a biological entity that gets increasingly sophisticated and ultimately can create the chip.”

Musk has no intention of being a boot loader. Page and Brin see themselves as forces for good, but Musk says the issue goes far beyond the motivations of a handful of Silicon Valley executives.

“It’s great when the emperor is Marcus Aurelius,” he says. “It’s not so great when the emperor is Caligula.”

* Note: Read the 1-Star reviews of this before purchasing, because they’re quite valid. In addition to the topic mentioned on the cover, I think this book provides a glimpse inside the mind of someone who is well into the Autism Spectrum. I used to have to work with people like that, so it wasn’t too unusual for me. It’s at various times maddening, hilarious, tedious and insightful, but, understandably, not everyone’s cup of tea.

One Response to “‘We Are the Biological Boot-Loader for Digital Super-Intelligence’”

  1. Dennis Says:

    Caught my attention:

    Without oversight, Musk believes, A.I. could be an existential threat: “We are summoning the demon.”

    Some A.I. engineers found Musk’s theatricality so absurdly amusing that they began echoing it. When they would return to the lab after a break, they’d say, “O.K., let’s get back to work summoning.”

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