Suggested Reading: "Our Final Invention: Is AI the Defining Issue for Humanity?"


Once, during a round of late night philosophy, I asked someone 'what if humans grand purpose on Earth is to make something better than us, something that can live in almost any environment?' Now that question is being asked seriously by some people much smarter than I am.

Seth Baum at Scientific American looks at a book that asks if artificial intelligence will be humans last great invention.
"The central idea is haltingly simple. Intelligence could be the key trait that sets humans apart from other species. We’re certainly not the strongest beasts in the jungle, but thanks to our smarts (and our capable hands) we came out on top. Now, our dominance is threatened by creatures of our own creation. Computer scientists may now be in the process of building AI with greater-than-human intelligence (“superintelligence”). Such AI could become so powerful that it would either solve all our problems or kill us all, depending on how it’s designed."

Read the rest here.

Basically, if our defining characteristic is intelligence, what happens if we make something smarter than we are and capable (when combined with robotics, nanotechnology and 3D printing) capable of doing everything we can do and many things we cannot.

Personally I am something of an optimist on the issue. I believe that intelligence is only half of the secret to our success. The other half of human brilliance lies in curiosity and imagination and, without making computers fully sentient, we cannot teach them to be curious. We can teach them to mimic creativity, to write and create original music, but really we're just feeding them algorithms.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and other technologies are going to dramatically reshape society. There won't be anymore jobs. If there is work that needs to be done people will employ computers and robots, not humans. Technology will be able to follow instructions precisely, do whatever needs to be done quickly and efficiently, work 24 hours/day without complaint, without a paycheck and without sick days. Humans simply can't compete with that. So we will, out of necessity, have to rework the economic system to allow for this change.

However, I think that a symbiotic relationship where humans ask the questions and machines provide the answers, where we have ideas and they make them a reality is possible.

p.s. as an added bonus here, via io9, is a sneak peek at the new Quantum AI lab started by Google and NASA:

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