The AI Revolution

I am interested in a thing called the Singularity, a point in time where advances in nanotechnology, medical technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and computer technology come so fast that it is impossible to keep up and the world changes fundamentally. Ray Kurtzweil and others believe that time is in the 2040 – 2060 timeframe. One of the threads of that movement is the development of AI. Ran across a discussion in the Wait but Why blog by Tim Urban last week. There are pair of fascinating posts that take a close look at the development of AI and some speculation about the future as it starts to acquire actual human-level and higher intelligence. For a lot of us old SciFi fans, smart machines echo the Terminator, Forbin Project, and Matrix movies. In print, there were Keith Laumer’s Bolo, Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker novels, and Harlan Ellison’s AM. In most of these, AI didn’t work out so well or like humanity much more than ISIS does, with the expected results. The posts point out that today we are a lot closer to AI than most believe. Urban defines three levels of AI starting with ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence), which we have today in SIRI, chess machines, Amazon ads in browsers, etc. We literally live in a growing world of ANI, is everywhere and making a lot of progress. Next is AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), essentially human-level intelligence. Final is ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence), intelligence as far above humanity as we are above single celled life. Where are we today? According to the author, we have the ability to make an affordable computer capable of somewhere between an insect and a mouse brain. But that improvement happens at an exponential rate. Many AI experts believe that once we reach the AGI level, the move to ASI will be explosive, far faster than anyone can comprehend or imagine. And it looks like that explosion is going to take place in our lifetime, which is more than a little troubling. It is a long read, but well worth your time. Let me know what you think.