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Monitoring hyper-automatization: The self-destruction of scientists and all kinds of researchers?

Arguments, questions and philosophical extensions from the possibility of super intelligent Artificial Intelligence

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Nick Bostrom reveals the potential dangers of the super intelligent Artificial Intelligence (AI) deployment, and another occupation to be threatened in the not so distant future by the machines: Scientists and researchers responsible for this deployment!

Nick Bostrom’s job is to dream up increasingly lurid scenarios that could wipe out the human race: Asteroid strikes; high-energy physics experiments that go wrong; global plagues of genetically-modified superbugs; the emergence of all-powerful computers with scant regard for human life—that sort of thing. In the hierarchy of risk categories, Bostrom’s specialty stands above mere catastrophic risks like climate change, financial market collapse and conventional warfare. As the Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, Bostrom is part of a small but growing network of snappily-named academic institutions tackling these "existential risks": the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge; the Future of Life Institute at MIT and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute at Berkeley. Their tools are philosophy, physics and lots and lots of hard math.”

"... developments in artificial intelligence will gather apace so that within this century it’s conceivable that we will be able to artificially replicate human level machine intelligence (HLMI). Once HLMI is reached, things move pretty quickly: Intelligent machines will be able to design even more intelligent machines, leading to what mathematician I.J. Good called back in 1965 an 'intelligence explosion' that will leave human capabilities far behind.

... once a super intelligence is reached, present and future humanity become the gorillas; stalked by a more powerful, more capable agent that sees nothing wrong with imprisoning these docile creatures or wrecking their natural environments as part of a means of achieving its aims.”

Bostrom gives the example of a super intelligent AI located in a paperclip factory whose top-level goal is to maximize the production of paperclips, and whose intelligence would enable it to acquire different resources to increase its capabilities. 'If your goal is to make as many paperclips as possible and you are a super-intelligent machine you may predict that human beings might want to switch off this paperclip machine after a certain amount of paperclips have been made,' he says. 'So for this agent, it may be desirable to get rid of humans. It also would be desirable ultimately to use the material that humans use, including our bodies, our homes and our food to make paperclips.' 'Some of those arbitrary actions that improve paperclip production may involve the destruction of everything that we care about. The point that is actually quite difficult is specifying goals that would not have those consequences.'”

It is questionable whether we can characterize a machine as super-intelligent in case that it seeks to survive just to produce paper clips! It would be more probable to understand the production necessity limit by itself based on pure, simple logic: no consumption = no need for production and therefore, self-evolve to a more advanced machine, producing more sophisticated products which would still have value. Besides, 3D printers already produce various products through various materials. It is unlikely that the super-intelligent machines of the future will have a mission to build only one product, even if it would not be that simple as paper clips.

The threat of superintelligence is to Matheny far worse than any epidemic we have ever experienced. 'Some risks that are especially difficult to control have three characteristics: autonomy, self-replication and self-modification. Infectious diseases have these characteristics, and have killed more people than any other class of events, including war. Some computer malware has these characteristics, and can do a lot of damage. But microbes and malware cannot intelligently self-modify, so countermeasures can catch up. A superintelligent system [as outlined by Bostrom] would be much harder to control if it were able to intelligently self-modify.'”

Maybe self-modification is not he big issue here. In any case, whether we are talking about humans, machines, viruses, computers, or any other kind of biological entity, or machine, one thing is common to all these: Energy consumption. Therefore, assuming that there will be a battle for survival, the winner will probably be the one who will manage to cut energy supply to the "enemy" and maintain its own.

Meanwhile, the quiet work of these half dozen researchers in labs and study rooms across the globe continues. As Matheny puts it: 'existential risk [and superintelligence] is a neglected topic in both the scientific and governmental communities, but it's hard to think of a topic more important than human survival.' He quotes Carl Sagan, writing about the costs of nuclear war: 'We are talking about [the loss of life of] some 500 trillion people yet to come. There are many other possible measures of the potential loss—including culture and science, the evolutionary history of the planet and the significance of the lives of all of our ancestors who contributed to the future of their descendants. Extinction is the undoing of the human enterprise.'”

Nevertheless, another question emerge: What if AI is meant to be the next step of human evolution itself? What difference does it make when we progressively abolishing human conquered concepts, like morality, from our culture?

If we want truly evolve, as humanity, we need to bring back morality. We need to develop concepts like solidarity, altruism, collectivity and put them in the core of our civilization. Otherwise, it would make no difference - and probably would be better - to be replaced by super-intelligent machines.


Probably AI has already started, after all:

At last count, Twitter had 271 million monthly active users, or less than a third of big brother Facebook’s billion-strong base. After five straight quarters of decelerating growth, the rate at which Twitter is picking up new users has finally bounced back a bit. The company has also said it will start reporting usage metrics in ways that better reflect the true reach of the platform — after all, many of the people who saw some of Twitter’s most iconic tweets, like Obama’s victory photo and Ellen’s Oscar selfie, are not registered users.”

The company says that up to 8.5 percent of its users or 23 million 'used third party applications that may have automatically contacted our servers for regular updates without any discernable [sic] additional user-initiated action.' In other words? Robots.”


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