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.

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