Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Intelligently Artificial - Shape of the Future

Sometimes you come across something intellectually refreshing and fulfilling. Palo Alto based Singularity Institute of Artificial Intelligence [SIAI] which is at the forefront of expanding our limits of ignorance about Intelligence has started its own blog. Look what SIAI has to say about its mission - "In the coming decades, humanity will likely create a powerful AI. SIAI exists to confront this urgent challenge, both the opportunity and the risk. SIAI is fostering research, education, and outreach to increase the likelihood that the vast promise of AI is realized for the benefit of everyone." Read this post on SIAI blog named '5-min Singularity Intro' -

Sometime in the next few decades, we’ll start developing technologies that improve on human intelligence. We’ll hack the brain, or interface the brain to computers, or finally crack the problem of Artificial Intelligence. Now, this is not just a pleasant futuristic speculation like soldiers with super-strong bionic arms. Humanity did not rise to prominence on Earth by lifting heavier weights than other species.

Intelligence is the source of technology. If we can use technology to improve intelligence, that closes the loop and potentially creates a positive feedback cycle. Let’s say we invent brain-computer interfaces that substantially improve human intelligence. What might these augmented humans do with their improved intelligence? Well, among other things, they’ll probably design the next generation of brain-computer interfaces. And then, being even smarter, the next generation can do an even better job of designing the third generation. This hypothetical positive feedback cycle was pointed out in the 1960s by I. J. Good, a famous statistician, who called it the “intelligence explosion”. The purest case of an intelligence explosion would be an Artificial Intelligence rewriting its own source code.
The key idea is that if you can improve intelligence even a little, the process accelerates. It’s a tipping point. Like trying to balance a pen on one end - as soon as it tilts even a little, it quickly falls the rest of the way.

The potential impact on our world is enormous. Intelligence is the source of all our technology from agriculture to nuclear weapons. All of that was produced as a side effect of the last great jump in intelligence, the one that took place tens of thousands of years ago with the rise of humanity.


By the way, I also love the term Singularity. Singularities are of various types. I think SIAI takes it as a Technological Singularity, which denotes a point of 'next leap' of a scientific civilization.
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