Ray at his logical Best
Written in 2001, and still mostly accurate.
A great read, with some very pertinent facts and interesting projections.
And of course there are a few areas of significant disagreement.
“An AI system must analyze and understand whether the behavior that a human is requesting is likely to be judged as “normal” or “reasonable” by most people.”
Normality is vastly over rated. All simple paradigms are believed by most people at some time, before they are found to be inadequate, and a new paradigm takes over.
Constraining AI to normality seems to me to be a dead end.
I’m certainly not normal.
I have no desire to be normal.
I have no wish to be discriminated against by any AI for my lack of normality.
“There is no need for high interest rates to counter an inflation that doesn’t exist.”
There is no need for exchange based interactions.
As automation reaches a certain point, we can produce most things universally, and there is no need of exchange, no need for money.
“Moreover, we are certain to rethink social security when we have centenarians who look and act like 30 year-olds (but who will think much faster than 30 year-olds circa the year 2000).”
We need to rethink social security to a whole new level, and provide adequate resources for anyone to do whatever they responsibly choose to do, not forcing people into poverty just because they don’t want to do anything that those few who have most of the money want them to do.
” And in the same way that biological self-replication gone awry (i.e., cancer) results in biological destruction, a defect in the mechanism curtailing nanobot self-replication would endanger all physical entities, biological or otherwise.”
Cancer is only cancer when replication is unrestrained within a cooperative.
Replication outside of a cooperative leads to competitive survival issues.
It is crucial to humanity as a whole that we make our systems as a whole cooperative at the highest levels possible, and support all lower levels to survive (though not to be allowed unrestrained growth (which is the definition of cancer when it occurs within a cooperative).
“People often go through three stages in examining the impact of future technology: awe and wonderment at its potential to overcome age old problems, then a sense of dread at a new set of grave dangers that accompany these new technologies, followed, finally and hopefully, by the realization that the only viable and responsible path is to set a careful course that can realize the promise while managing the peril.”
I fully align with this statement. And when one does examine the various sorts of systemic environments possible, a competitive market based economic system seems to deliver very high risk.
It seems to be much more secure long term to allow markets to function within a cooperative environment that demands respect for the life and liberty of all individuals.
“In a competitive environment, it is an economic imperative to go down these roads. Relinquishing technological advancement would be economic suicide for individuals, companies, and nations.”
This is just one more powerful example of why allowing competitive environments at the highest levels is such a high risk strategic approach.
It seems clear to me that it is far safer to take a cooperative approach at the highest levels (and not simply confine cooperating to within corporations and nations).
” We consider death as giving meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time could become meaningless if there were too much of it.”
I don’t buy this argument. Anyone who has seriously investigated the concept of infinity and has spent a bit of effort acquainting themselves with cosmology, must be able to conceive of time-frames of many billions of years.
When I think how much my thinking has changed in the last 50 years, it is utterly unimaginable how much my enhanced thinking might change in a thousand, let alone a billion, years.
I strongly suspect that I would adapt very quickly to the idea of living a very long time (I did in fact do so, 41 years ago).
“Evolution, in my view, represents the purpose of life. That is, the purpose of life–and of our lives–is to evolve.”
Purpose is not something given by existence, it is something we as individuals can choose.
In the absence of choice, the void will be filled by various cultural stories.
I reserve the right to choose my own purpose, at any time.
“What does it mean to evolve? Evolution moves toward greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and more of other abstract and subtle attributes such as love. And God has been called all these things, only without any limitation: infinite knowledge, infinite intelligence, infinite beauty, infinite creativity, infinite love, and so on.”
Evolution only moves to greater complexity in the sense that it is essentially a random walk through possibility space, and given that we started from simplicity, that random walk will in some instances explore new and more complex possibilities (and sometimes it will walk back in the direction of greater simplicity).
So there is no evidence of any directionality in evolution as such, in anything other than this most trivial of senses above.
“In making this statement, it is important to emphasize that terms like evolution, destiny, and spiritual quest are observations about the end result, not the basis for these predictions. I am not saying that technology will evolve to human levels and beyond simply because it is our destiny and because of the satisfaction of a spiritual quest. Rather my projections result from a methodology based on the dynamics underlying the (double) exponential growth of technological processes. The primary force driving technology is economic imperative. We are moving toward machines with human level intelligence (and beyond) as the result of millions of small advances, each with their own particular economic justification.”
Not necessarily so.
Economic imperative does not drive technology. It exploits technology, it limits the rate of technological expansion (through many mechanisms, such as IP laws).
Be honest with yourself Ray – those of us who love inventing do so for the love of it.
And sure it is great when it pays off.
And few of us do it for the pay.
We do it because we want to make a difference, and we need the money to be able to make a difference in today’s world.
“We will continue to build more powerful computational mechanisms because it creates enormous value. We will reverse-engineer the human brain not simply because it is our destiny, but because there is valuable information to be found there that will provide insights in building more intelligent (and more valuable) machines. We would have to repeal capitalism and every visage of economic competition to stop this progression.”
We would need to change the context of our understanding.
We would need to see markets and market value (money) in a new context.
We would need to see that it is more powerful to view evolution from the systems complexity viewpoint, as being an exploration of new levels of cooperation, rather than simply taking the competitive view of evolution on its own.
We would need to realise that all economic value is derived from scarcity, as is evidenced from the fact that air has no value in a market, even though it is arguably the single most important commodity for any human being.
Once one sees this clearly, the meta incentives of markets can clearly be seen as being counter to the needs of the vast majority of humanity.
The thing that most clearly distinguishes humanity from other organisms is our ability to cooperate at ever higher levels.
Economic competition threatens the survival and freedom of the majority of humanity.
It is really difficult to find work that pays higher than mere subsistence at present, only a very tiny percentage of people manage it.
And that can only get worse if markets are left to their own tendencies. 1.5m^2 of solar cells can gather sufficient energy to perform the mechanical work of a human being. That is a capital cost of less than a month’s salary, and falling rapidly.
Human beings are being replaced at every level by automation, and the rate of that replacement is faster than most people are currently capable of retraining.
The competitive market model of wealth distribution has some serious flaws with growing impacts on growing numbers of people.
We should be living in an age where people experience abundance and security as never before, yet most people I meet and talk too are very concerned, anxious and insecure. That is a serious systems failure.
“It will continue to be the human-machine civilization taking the next step in evolution.”
If one views evolution simply as “competition”, “nature red in tooth and claw”, “survival of the fittest”, then that view of evolution delivers extinction at worst, or mere subsistence at best, for the bulk of humanity.
If one views evolution in a much deeper systems perspective, as an exploration of the possible systemic landscapes, then something else altogether is possible.
There are certainly major differences between linear vs exponential views of evolution.
There are even greater differences available from the sort of systemic landscape one selects and promotes.
If one is serious about long term survival (whether “one” is biological or non-biological) then one must look seriously at the sorts of systemic landscapes that are probable and possible.
Long term survival requires landscapes that contain low risk profiles as options.
That seems to require that we focus on cooperative systems, and the required sorts of attendant strategies to prevent such systems being overrun by cheats.
It seems to be very much the case that our existing economic and political systems could be characterised as having been taken over by cheating strategies.
Largely agree with the section “Why Intelligence is More Powerful than Physics”
Except for the last statement – “What kind of Universe will that be? Well, just wait and see.”
I don’t want to wait and see what will happen if we continue to promote economic strategies which “cheat” on the cooperative.
What I want is for a great many people to start to seriously think about the sort of systemic landscapes they would like to spend the rest of eternity in.
I am certainly very interested in staying around, and expanding my abilities, as and when I choose, for the rest of eternity. I have had that as a possibility for 41 years, and I have spent most of that time thinking about the sorts of strategic issues we might face, and the likely outcomes thereof.
So for me, it is not a matter of “just wait an see” so much as “what are you willing to create?”
And I am doing my best to stick around.
I strongly advise everyone to up their Vitamin C dose. If you can’t make your diet at least 80% fresh raw fruits and vegetable, then supplement with a minimum 2g per day. I’m supplementing about 20g/day, but then I was told 5 years ago I could be dead in 6 weeks with cancer. I seem to have been tumour free for 4.5 years. You need enough B vitamins to be able to use all that vit C, and if you are fighting viral infections it seems that zinc is often the limiting factor, so a little zinc supplementation can often help if a virus seems to be making an impression.
And there is a lot of variation in our personal biochemistries – one size definitely does not fit all, and way over 99% of people would benefit from more vit C (though they may need other things to see the benefits, usually Bs and zinc).