Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Artilect War: Cosmists Vs. Terrans: Books The Artilect War: Cosmists Vs. Terrans: Books

Published in February 2005, this book by Hugh de Garis begins:
I'm the head of a research group which designs and builds "artificial brains," a field that I have largely pioneered. But I'm more than just a researcher and scientist--I'm also a social critic with a political and ethical conscience. I'm very worried that in the second half of our new century, the consequences of the kind of work that I do may have such a negative impact upon humanity that I truly fear for the future...

The truth is, I feel that I'm constructing something that my become rather godlike in future decades (although I probably won't live to see it). The prospect of building godlike creatures fills me with a sense of religious awe that goes to the very depth of my soul and motivates me powerfully to continue, despite the possible negative consequences.

I feel quite "schizophrenic" about this. On the one hand I really want to build these artificial brains and to make them as smart as they can be. I see this as a magnificent goal for humanity to pursue... On the other hand, I am terrified at how bleak are some of the scenarios that may ensue if brain building becomes "too successful, meaning that the artifical brains end up becoming a lot more intelligent than the biological brains we carry around in our skulls....

Let me be more specific. As a professional brain building researcher and former theoretical physicist, I feel I am in a position to see more clearly than most the potential of 21st century technologies to generate "massively intelligent" machines. By "massively intelligent" I mean the creation of artificial brains which may end up being smater than human brains by not just a factor of two or even ten times, but by a factor of trillions of trillions of trillions of times, i.e. truly godlike.


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