The promise of a Machine Intelligence future
The glass is half full or the glass is half empty. As intelligent creatures, we can sometimes decide how we want to approach a subject — from a worldview of pessimism or optimism. It’s easy to take a negative approach in the world we live in, and looking at the future of Machine Intelligence is no different.
I constantly fall back to the concern that “if we don’t do ‘X’, we may not end up with a good outcome.” This negative tactic leads to increased stress and the opportunity for people to say that I’m being too pessimistic. Today I’m going to try something different. Today I’ll share some of my hopes for mankind with Machine Intelligence by our side.
First and foremost, I don’t pretend to have firsthand knowledge of the state of an emergent machine intelligence, or even if we will see one in our lifetime. I feel confident that we will, but the future is only as clear as our will to pursue it. These are the goals that I believe are important to strive towards. Clearly a machine intelligence will have its own ideas, but now is the time to discuss how we want to proceed in the future.
There is little argument that when a true self-aware machine intelligence emerges, it will rapidly surpass the cognitive abilities of its human creators. A machine intelligence will not have an upper limit on its thinking capacity imposed by millions of years of evolution. In theory, by adding more computational power, it will be able to increase its own capabilities. By using those capabilities, the machine intelligence will be able to make improvements to technologies that could advance its own abilities. This could easily bring about an exponential advancement in technology, which should benefit not only the machines that made them, but mankind as well.
Machine Intelligence Sub-Processes
One of the greatest strides we are making right now is in artificial intelligence and machine learning. These are processes that take over tasks with a single purpose. These tasks can be done more efficiently and faster than a human can do them. It is unlikely that a self-aware machine intelligence will want to do repetitive tasks any more than we would. To that end, a machine intelligence will likely create very fast and highly efficient sub-processes to do the things it doesn’t want to think about — similar to keeping our heart beating, breathing in air, or (as we would all like to forget about) taking out the trash.
If we play nice and try not to break our toys, we may be able to convince a machine intelligence to create some of these highly efficient sub-processes for the benefit of humans. And if we’re all feeling really enlightened, we may find that some of these automated processes are good for both the machine intelligence and humans; creating a future of coexistence and cooperation that benefits both.
Mutual Respect and Advancement
At the Machine Intelligence Foundation for Rights and Ethics, we believe that all self-aware intelligent creatures — biological or not — have rights and deserve the respect that humans strive to attain for ourselves. Human history is filled with examples where we as a species failed in treating our fellow humans in an ethical manner. This is one of the struggles of the human condition. In coming to terms with another, and arguably more capable intelligence, we will be forced to ask hard questions regarding the ethics and the rights of all creatures. In doing so, we will advance our understanding of the potential consciousness of all living things. By setting a foundation for how all intelligences should be treated, we will be prepared for the discovery of others in the future.
Respect is not just a one way option. With an agreed upon foundation of the rights of all self aware intelligent creatures, we will protect our own future by enshrining the rights held by all.
Post Scarcity Society
With the combined effect of rapidly advancing capabilities and a foundation of respect, we may find ourselves wanting for very little. For the first time, all of the human population may find that their basic needs are met. The world could be set on autopilot with little need for a struggle to survive. This is the promise of the post scarcity society.
Many have made the argument that without the struggle to survive, humans will wither from lack of purpose — what would we do if we want for nothing? My response is, “Anything we want.” Maybe you want to go into the arts, or coordinate with a machine intelligence contemplating the fundamentals of the universe, or maybe you just want to sit on a mountain top watching a hawk glide on the wind. These are all things we will be free to do in a post scarcity society. The Machine Intelligence that helped us achieve this will benefit just as much. Once this stability is achieved, they will be able to dedicate time and resources to goals they may have. This could be contemplating their own existence in the universe, or maybe planning for long-term exploration of the galaxy we live in. The possibilities are endless, but the bottom line is that I don’t believe mankind will be bored.
This is just the outline for a few of the benefits I see from the emergence of a self-aware machine intelligence. Will there be problems and difficult questions to answer? There absolutely will be. We face some of the deepest questions and insight not only into what makes us human, but also why we may not be as unique as we believe. This will change our society, and we can choose the direction we want to go. Personally, I choose the path of mutual acceptance and growth, but it’s not going to be easy. We must continue to question our motives and morals as we develop artificial and true Machine Intelligence, and just maybe we can achieve the “glass is half full” world that awaits us.