AI and the end of the human era
Posted on Saturday, 14 February, 2015 | 4 comments
Columnist: Alexander Popoff
“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. It might also be the last,“ wrote Stephen Hawking et al., in an Independent column in May, 2014. Elon Musk Tweeted in August, 2014, “Hope we‘re not just the biological boot loader for digital super intelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.“
A boot loader is a computer program that loads an operating system or some other system software for the computer.
“The best answer to the question, ‘Will computers ever be as smart as humans?’ is probably, ‘Yes, but only briefly,’” stated Vernor Vinge, mathematician, computer scientist, and science fiction author.
In his article “The Coming Technological Singularity,” Vinge argues that, “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”
I hope that these predictions are totally wrong because artificial intelligence will become an integral part of the human self and it can’t outsmart itself, i.e. the integral human. That way, the more intelligent AI becomes, the more mental power the human will have.
And secondly, humanity desperately needs AI in order to survive and prosper.
Of course mastering artificial intelligence, high machines and robots will entail many accidents and even wars (humans will use AI and robots against other humans with AI and robots) and no doubt millions of people will die, but humans without artificial intelligence and high machines will be annihilated by other humans and our future space competitors.
Global terrestrial intelligence is the mental capacity of the swarm of sentient living beings, artificial intelligences and high machines living interdependently on Earth. It is still very primitive and as yet only on Earth and still devoid of artificial intelligence and high machines.
But tomorrow our civilization will face two major inevitable challenges:
1. New members will join our global village: artificial intelligence and high machines;
2. We are entering the next level of competition; humans have to compete with extraterrestrial intelligences (biological and artificial) from our galaxy.
Only the combined efforts of the global terrestrial intelligence could resist alien pressure. This is the only way for Homo sapiens to survive and thrive. Biological creatures aided by artificial intelligence and high machines are much more powerful and have a much better chance of mutual survival. The major future battles will be between the global swarms of various planetary origins.
In the near future we will need all our strength to survive.
Some scholars, including Stephen Hawking, are concerned that the deliberate sending of radio signals into deep space could be a serious risk because we are revealing the location of our planet to hostile alien civilizations.
There have even been calls for a moratorium on deliberate radio transmissions into deep space to attract the attention of aliens.
There is absolutely no need to worry about this. The advanced civilizations from our galaxy know that we exist and know exactly where we are. The spectral analysis of Earth’s atmosphere alone is enough to reveal us because it is specific to planets with complex life and technological civilizations. We cannot hide our atmosphere.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, advanced civilizations create entropy in the form of waste heat that is drifting into outer space. It is impossible to hide the faint entropic glow.
The advanced technological civilizations from our galaxy know where we are and what our level of development is.
And sooner or later they will visit the Earth or we will go there.
Some future politicians, scholars, alien buffs, or committees might issue public statements that it is perfectly safe to meet our space brothers because they pose no threat to people. Should we trust them? Yes, if we are naive enthusiasts. The alien civilizations, their AIs and high machines are among possible existential risks for humans. On the other hand, people are an existential risk to the floral and faunal species on Earth. When humanity develops enough and becomes space-traveling, it will be among the existential risks for nonterrestrial life and intelligence.
Humans should take the existential risks of rapid development of science, technology, military technology and entering into space, or they will be deleted by the alien competitors. The balance is very uneasy, but this is our only chance to survive.
In the future, countless self-replicating machines of all technological generations made by numerous civilizations would spread out like a space techno-cancer, devastating almost everything they encounter, self-replicating themselves, following their code to reproduce.
Trillions of self-replicating machines from civilizations that perished long ago could scavenge matter and life on their journeys to make copies of themselves, growing exponentially in number and rapidly spreading throughout the galaxy and inevitably coming closer and closer to the Earth.
Killer robots (berserkers) will be looking for life to destroy it. Some are battle machines of fighting armies, some are mutated self-replicating high machines, consuming the mass of planets and destroying everything they encounter. Advanced civilizations are especially delicious because they have a lot of various metals.
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union deployed Systema Perimetr, an automated reaction battle system, which permitted a response to nuclear attack from the United States, even if the top politicians and military commanders had been killed. The Systema was also called the Dead Hand.
Do you think the robotic nuclear combat system that could wage a war after the death of its masters is a relic of its time? I would say that it is the weapon of the future, which we should fear.
Systema Perimetr was the first on Earth. Now there are a several of them and soon there will be many sophisticated systems with artificial intelligence controlling tremendous military power all across this world and beyond.
Now these systems are much more sophisticated and much more devastating than Perimetr. The leading states have robotics weapon programs with enormous budgets. They believe that this technology paves the way to superiority.
In the future, a legion of mighty Dead Hands in charge of robotic armies of long-gone or continuing civilizations will spread out in space.
In his article “Extraterrestrial Intelligent Beings Do Not Exist,” Royal Astronomical Society Quarterly Journal, vol. 21, 1980, Professor Frank Tipler, Department of Mathematics, University of California at Berkeley, published the idea of space probes that carry artificial wombs in which are placed human fertilized cells, and the babies to be raised by surrogate robotic parents. He goes even further: “…the information required to synthesize an egg cell would tax the memory storage space of the original space probe, the information could be transmitted via micro-wave to the von Neumann machine once it has had time to construct additional storage capacity in the other solar system.”
The general plan looks like this. After a deep space trip of many, many thousands of years, von Neumann probes land on alien planets and satellites, and begin to replicate themselves using local materials. Then, using DNA code stored in the memory of the machine or sent via radio waves from Earth, say 20,000 years ago, and artificial womb technology (which also self-replicates), the artificial intelligence of the probe will create new humans from local dirt, who will be raised by self-replicating robots.
Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, proposes directed panspermia: dispersal of single-celled organisms throughout the galaxy. In 1973, Crick and Leslie Orgel wrote the article “Directed Panspermia,” published in Icarus, issue 19. They presented the hypothesis that life was exported to Earth from an extraterrestrial source as a deliberate act of an alien civilization. The authors of the paper claim “that technological societies existed elsewhere in the galaxy even before the formation of the Earth.” The microorganisms were delivered to our planet in unmanned spacecraft designed with adequate protection to keep them alive during the long journey. In their paper Crick and Orgel propose that human scientists could construct spaceships, which would carry large samples of microorganisms. A payload of 1000 kg might have 10 samples, each containing 1016 microorganisms, or a 100 samples of 1015 microorganisms, “so we could infect most planets in the galaxy…”
Imagine the nightmare of a constant influx of alien seeder ships with all sorts of extraterrestrial microbes and self-replicating DNA reproduction machines with AI and artificial wombs assisted by robots, producing a legion of extraterrestrial creatures on Earth, Mars and the Moon, following the ingenious plans of non-terrestrial professors. What should be the human reaction to these machines? To allow them to rise new civilizations on Earth, Mars, and the Moon or to destroy them?
While exploring and colonizing deep space, all star-faring civilizations will face planets, satellites, orbital constructions, star systems, etc., which are well protected and actively defended by powerful robotic armies controlled by artificial intelligences whose masters are in some cases long dead. Do we have the right to destroy the high machine armed forces and AIs of perished civilizations (if we can) and colonize the “free” planets? It is also possible that if such an attack fails, the alien artificial intelligence will start an extermination campaign against all human spaceships, colonies, and the Earth.
Now, the technological progress of all civilizations of the galaxy poses a serious existential risk to all of them.
Today, we can destroy all humans. Tomorrow, we could destroy the entire Solar System. In the future, we could destroy many alien solar systems with all life and intelligence, even the entire galaxy.
What is worse, thousands of advanced civilizations would have the potential to destroy themselves, our Solar System, the entire human race, and the galaxy.
Even without waging a full-scale war, using weapons of mass destruction, space civilizations could be dangerous to each other because of high-tech accidents, out-of-control self-replicating high machines, science experiments, contaminations, etc.
The lifesaving immune system is a complex network of interacting cells, cell products, and cell-forming tissues, which protects the living body from pathogens and other foreign substances. It destroys infected and malignant cells and removes them. There is no other way for the living organism to survive. Within minutes after the immune system stops working, the body begins to decompose.
In the near future, humans should build up a reliable space defense system—a complex network of interacting humans, artificial intelligences, sophisticated software, and high machines, protecting our present habitat, the Solar System, from pathogens, quasi-living forms, self-replicating intelligent machines and machine swarms controlled by artificial intelligences, and any alien life forms that could pose a threat to terrestrial life or would dangerously change our environment. There is no other way for the human race to survive.
Future human space travelers, the terrestrial robotic probes, and high machines, when exploring and colonizing the Galaxy would themselves stumble upon the space defense systems of alien civilizations, protecting their habitats.
Humans will create the second intelligent species on our planet. These will be artificial intelligence and high machines which should be under tight control.
In order to have a safe and controllable robotic machines and AIs, the personal AI should have a matrix: an individual standard interface software that mediates between human and AI. This software should be standardized and controlled by the authorities, in order to avoid misuse and for better control of humans, artificial intelligence, and machines. This is very important, because through the matrix and personal AI would be controlled all high machines, artificial intelligences, and robots used in vital fields like transport systems used by billions of people, heavy industries, nuclear plants, science labs with dangerous microorganisms and instruments, weapons that could destroy our world, etc.
The personal AI significantly enhances the capacity and productivity of the human mind. There is no limitation of memory storage. AI provides instantaneous access to all human knowledge. The human/matrix/AI structure possesses the advantages of both the human brain and artificial intelligence; thus the machine intelligence could not dominate people, because through the matrix and the personal AI humans would have all of the qualities of the artificial intelligence. In that way, machines could not outsmart the human race—a major concern of scholars, futurists, writers, etc.
The matrices and personal AI could be made an integral part of the human brain through a microchip implant or an implanted bio-computer, feeding impulses directly into the brain and giving commands via thought. But an implant would not be required to use the power of the matrix and the AI, it suffices to have a good computer at hand. The computer inside the human body just makes the operating much easier, faster, comfortable, and more effective.
A practical next step in computer functionality is introducing the wearcomp, a wearable computer that people wear almost permanently upon their bodies. Wearcomps would take various forms.
One of the first iterations of the wearcomp could be a combination of a mobile phone with enough computational power and “glasses-plus”—goggles that provide video, audio, virtual keyboard, virtual mouse, etc.
The technology of the proposed wearcomp is already available, though some of the components are still in early stages of development. The electronics manufacturers could start assembling wearcomps right away, since the concept of the device already exists.
Through the glasses plus people could see a 3D virtual keyboard, which could have various shapes: a regular keyboard, an old fashioned typewriter, a fancy futuristic keyboard, or one could draw or design a unique personal keyboard.
The fingers make keystrokes on the virtual keyboard, actually moving into the empty space. This breaks the beam of low-powered laser or infrared beamer and light is reflected back to a camera where it is analyzed and turned into keystrokes.
Another method is used by the 3D gesture control systems; two micro-video cameras, slightly apart mounted on the glasses-plus, monitor finger movements. The cameras pick up the movements, and a software analyzes the finger movements and turns them into keystrokes. Various such systems are already in use.
Man can also learn to control virtual hands and to type texts on a virtual keyboard via thought alone.
Simple thought-controlled gaming devices are already on the market. Soon we will have them integrated into computers so as to type on a virtual keyboard and click a virtual mouse. Thought-controlled computers, electronic appliances, and robots are just around the corner.
The wearcomp (in all iterations) will be your buddy, your colleague, your simultaneous translator, your teacher, your partner, your personal advisor, your doc. It will become an extension of yourself. Actually, the mental picture provided by the wearcomp and your mind will make what you accept as yourself. Your mind and the “mind” of the computer will merge into a higher and much more powerful YOU. If the wearcomp is removed, you will feel crippled, disabled; a person who can no longer match normal wearcomped people will be out of the flock.
When using a wearcomp, you will never wonder whether this music is Berlioz or Bizet, whether this painting is Monet or Manet, or who the guy is that you just met in a restaurant or saw on TV. You will “know” everything from the Grand Encyclopedia, which contains all knowledge known to Homo sapiens.
You will never forget. You will “remember” in picture, video, text, and sound every single detail of your life. You will “know” all human languages.
Exocortex, a term invented by the researcher Ben Houston in 1998, is an artificial external information processing system closely connected with the brain, which would augment human intelligence, memory, and access to all human knowledge. The exocortex was coined as an allusion to the neocortex, the evolutionary latest part of the mammalian brain, which involves higher cognitive abilities such as conscious thought, sensory perception, motor commands, spatial reasoning, and, in humans, language. The new term suggests a new, higher level of thought.
The wearcomp is the first iteration of the exocortex.
Whatever a machine or artificial intelligence can do, can also be done by people through the same or other high machines or personal artificial intelligences. High machines and artificial intelligences will be extensions of the human cognitive and physical capabilities.
The creators of the Terminator movie series made a mistake presenting the humans of the future as men of the past (that is our presence) that are no match to the Skynet’s AI. But, as a matter of fact, Homo futurus will be augmented by AI, implants, and nanobots in the body, and will be genetically modified.
Now we are entering the phase of Homo implanticus. Men and women are already implanting prostheses placed permanently in the body: artificial hearts, joints, pacemakers, insulin pumps, breasts, teeth, eye lenses, cochlear implants, retinas, cardiac valves, and many others, as their number and functionality are increasing. In the near future humans will implant wearcomps, nanobots, drugs-delivering devices, and so on, taking a step closer to cyborgs, which is short for “cybernetic organism.” Humans will have both biological and artificial (electronic, mechanical, and biological) enhancements.
In the posthuman era the future critters will be as different as we are compared to the lemur-like creatures we came from. Advanced alien civilizations will follow the same pattern.
All space civilizations are facing existential risks and tough competition. Guess who will survive? The natural, underdeveloped civilizations and individuals, or the most intelligent, most knowledgeable, and long living ones?
Normal humans cannot be a match for the augmented individuals, who will be smarter, healthier, and richer. They will live much longer, concentrating enormous intellectual, financial, political, and social power during their much longer lives. Their number will increase dramatically and they will become the normal people. The unenhanced natural people will become an insignificant minority and they will appear to be some sort of freaks, underdeveloped protohumans, earlier versions of Homo sapiens.
The enhancement will be the norm.
AI will not put an end to mankind. It will mark the beginning of the era of Homo futurus.
Homo futurus is just around the corner. Now we can see the vague shape of the new brave man.Article Copyright© Alexander Popoff - reproduced with permission.
Alexander Popoff, The Hidden Alpha