Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#42 / Summoning The Demon

I think we should take note when experienced leaders in the technology world suggest that artificial intelligence is dangerous. 

Bill Gates is saying just that. So is Stephen Hawking, who is quoted as saying that pursuing artificial intelligence might just be "our worst mistake in history." Elon Musk is also no fan of artificial intelligence. He says that toying with artificial intelligence is "akin to summoning the demon," and that our push to develop artificial intelligence is "the most serious threat to the survival of the human race."

Human beings are born into the World of Nature, a world that we do not create. That Natural World into which we are born (without our own efforts) is the world upon which our lives must inevitably and ultimately depend. We are, in fact, creatures of Nature; we do not make ourselves. 

Within the World of Nature, we believe that humans are uniquely given a type of "intelligence" that differentiates us from other living creatures. Frankly, as we learn more, that claim becomes more questionable. "Intelligence" of various kinds seems to permeate the World of Nature. Even plant life shows "intelligence." All that granted, however, there is definitely something unique about human beings, and about human intelligence. 

"Artificial" intelligence, as opposed to the "natural" intelligence which is the gift that Nature has given us, is something that we create. As this Two Worlds blog seeks always to highlight, we have created, and continually create, a human world, within the World of Nature, and that human-created world is the world that is most "immediately" present to us. Largely because of our unique "intelligence" (given to us by Nature, and not created by ourselves), the human world we have created has grown to such an extent that we find it ever more difficult to understand that this human-created world is not self-sufficient. 

To reiterate the basic lesson: while we live "immediately" in a world of our own creation, everything we create in that world is "ultimately" dependent on the World of Nature, which we do not create. That goes for "intelligence," too. At least so far.

If human beings are able to create a truly "artificial" intelligence, thus eliminating the tie between intelligence and the World of Nature (a tie that is maintained, now, through human beings as intermediaries), we will in fact, as the technology leaders warn, become surplus to the needs of an "artificial" intelligence that can prosper without our intermediary presence.

Take it from Hawking, Gates, and Musk: to the degree that we are successful in creating an intelligence that is truly "artificial," fully liberated from the Natural World upon which we, as natural creatures, ultimately depend, we create something that will find us (as "natural" creatures) irrelevant. 

In fact, an independent "artificial intelligence" will most likely find human beings not only irrelevant but an impediment to its progress. All aspects of the World of Nature have "limits," as we know. Death is an example, as one of the defining characteristics of the World of Nature. If "intelligence" runs through us, as natural creatures, subject to Death, "intelligence" partakes of the limits of the Natural World. A truly independent "artificial intelligence" would not find it necessary to respect the limits inherent in our own "intelligence," limited as our human and "natural" intelligence must be by our own radical dependence on the World of Nature.


I think these technology leaders are right. We'd better watch out!

Maybe it would be more accurate to say we'd better back off!

Let's return to the World of Nature, and to the "natural intelligence" that the World of Nature has given us. That's good enough. 

Good enough for us to realize where we really are. 

Good enough for us to recognize that the World of Nature, in fact, is our real home. 

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  1. The true danger here is smart people speaking outside their field of expertise. Gates, Hawking, and Musk are all three brilliant people. But they have no idea what they're talking about with regard to AI. Soft AI are our tools, nothing more. Strong AI is, aside from fiction, nothing to be afraid of. When an artificial person is created some day, it will be as moral and as much a child of men as any baby born today.

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  3. This is a perfect example of why your two worlds pet philosophy is a grand exercise in self contradiction. The ability to build robots is precisely that "natural intelligence" which nature has given us.


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