Friday, May 22, 2015

formulating intelligence & unity

Formulating intelligence

To me, the challenge of automating intelligence remains one of the most fascinating, seductive challenges of our world. Conceptual & technological advancements in this direction seem to be quickening, and more & more people seem to be getting seriously interested in it. In recent months and years, the focus of many discussions of AI seems to have shifted from whether it's a realistic possibility to how to minimize the risks it entails.

Formulating unity

Revolutionary Change was Chalmers Johnson's 1966 study of political revolutions throughout history.

Chalmers portrayed the formation of a "revolutionary ideology" as one of the key ingredients in successful revolutions. It seemed to be an important step in uniting the efforts of diverse sets of people and enabling them to cooperate in carrying out a revolution.

For many years, millions have dreamed of and anticipated a new kind of revolution. We imagine an international transformation more novel, of deeper and wider proportions, than any political event in recorded history - a radical shift in favor of freedom, progress, and fun - a new paradigm that constitutes an effective solution to age-old problems like conflict and poverty.

This revolution is being built in billions of ways simultaneously. Every spiritually affirmative experience, every experience from which we learn and grow, increases our ability to coexist harmoniously. There could also be a role for a forthcoming "revolutionary ideology." Narratives could emerge that provide overwhelmingly convincing arguments in favor of abandoning, en masse, certain prevailing control mechanisms, in favor of more efficient and effective practices.

In the meantime

Whether we're talking about AI or Revolution, we may not have overwhelming evidence for or against the proposition that it's possible in the near term, or possible at all. We can't point to any nearby planets with superintelligent machines or utopian societies. But that's been the lonely way of innovation and struggle on this planet all along. We do have what seem to me fairly convincing points in favor of the likelihood that it's quite possible that either milestone could be reached at virtually any time. Given this, and the monumental implications of succeeding in either case, it seems worthwhile to devote effort, attention, thought, contemplation, etc. to these challenges.

People who feel like they're getting close to solutions to these problems may well seem to be neglecting other communications as they devote concentrated attention to these big questions. And to broach such abstract, ambitious subjects has sometimes entailed a risk of appearing delusional or grandiose. But as the pictures come into clearer focus, perhaps a wider consensus will emerge and we'll get better at integrating these lines of inquiry into other aspects of life.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

advertising psychedelics (again)

The Internet and modern computers were built largely by people who were inspired by psychedelics. Steve Jobs, for example. I guess I sometimes assume this is common knowledge, but I've recently been reminded that there's still a lot of misinformation floating around, so some more advertising may be in order.
Here's a video on Karry Mullis, who credited LSD for helping him make a discovery in genetic research that led to a Nobel Prize.
He wrote a book about it, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field:

Of course, musicians and artists are well known for getting inspiration from psychedelics. And scientists get inspiration from music and art. So even if some scientists don't take them (and often they do take them), they're still using the information, the gnosis, that psychedelics have helped provide.

10 Scientific and Technological Visionaries Who Experimented With Drugs:

All this, despite the official suppression and demonization of these compounds. But governments have had obvious tendencies toward shutting down overly novel phenomena that might challenge the governments' authority, and people understand this, and aren't entirely inclined to allow government dictates to define the limits of exploration and creativity.

Here's an interview where Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, speaks about LSD:

The issue of psychedelics is important for many reasons, including for the light it throws on the way we delude ourselves and keep repeating the same scripts, the same opinions, and avoid those aspects of reality that would challenge those habits. The benefits, about which information is abundantly available, are so extreme, that our continued inability to integrate the psychedelic method into our institutions speaks to the limitations, the brittleness, and the problems, of many of those institutions.

A neuroscientist talks about DMT:
And for good measure, here's one more, from good ol' Terence: