Friday, January 16, 2009

The Strangest Fear

Artificial companions will make for more intimate conversations, not just because of their proximity, but because they will speak our language from the first moment of their stirring sentience. However, I fear what might happen as they evolve exponentially. Will they become so smart that they no longer want to talk to us? Will they develop an agenda of their own that makes utterly no sense from a human perspective? A world shared with super-intelligent robots is a hard thing to imagine. If we are lucky, our new mind children will treat us as pets. If we are very unlucky, they will treat us as food.
Technology forecaster

In Sci-fi robots are always stand in for something else. They act like people but with one or two exceptions established in the work’s ground rules. And bully for them. The fact of the matter is AI is not going to be like people in several very important respects.

Competition for resources. Sentient AI will not have the same needs as people and where there is overlap in our needs these will be disproportional. One of the most important concepts that I hope to impress upon, well, everyone, is that AI doesn’t require physical SPACE- or at the least not nearly as much as people do.

For centuries we’ve labored under the delusion of mind/body dualism- the false impression that the mind is separate from our physical body, however in the case of AI enabled robots this will literally be true. Their minds will be something that is distinct from their physical selves. They won’t need a body to continue to exist and the minimum amount of physical space they will require will be vanishingly small.

Interactions between humans and robots/AI will, likely, be significantly less strained than interactions between two competing human groups that require all the same resources. As long as the AI is able to fill its energy needs there should be no conflict at all- so maybe we should all get on top of solar, wind and tidal energy, huh?

Robots deciding to eliminate humans is as improbable as humans deciding to actively pursue the elimination of all sea turtles- something we might do on accident but nothing we'd ever do on purpose.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I will say this though- they're going to destroy our economy as we know it. Completely turn it on its ear if we don't take steps to insure a smooth transition.