BOUND TO BE CAPTIVATING: OUR INTELLIGENT FUTURE
From two great, still-integral Australian minds comes Intelligence Unbound, The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds, bound neatly into 300 pages of 21 enlightening essays, two introductions and an afterword. The main topics explored are AI, mind uploading and whole-brain emulation, so be prepared for some philosophically discursive views. But what makes this volume so rewarding is its breadth of coverage. It is indispensable to anyone searching for clues on how things might turn out as AI gathers momentum and mind uploading becomes inevitable.
From How Conscience Apps and Caring Computers will Illuminate and Strengthen Human Morality, to Against Immortality: Why Death is Better than the Alternative, there is much in Intelligence Unbound to incite controversy about mind uploading and its consequences.
Apart from being a treasure trove for sci-fi writers looking for new storylines, Intelligence Unbound is eminently readable, enjoyable and expert in its reasoning. It is also much more than the sum of its parts: editors Russell Blackford (Philosopher and Conjoint Lecturer at the University of Newcastle, NSW) and Damien Broderick (PhD in the Literary Theory of the Sciences and Arts from Deakin University) have set out in their comprehensive introductions a clear indication of the enticing chapters to follow.
In bringing together such eminent practitioners as James Hughes, Executive Director of the Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies, bioethicist and sociologist at Trinity College, Hartford, and Michael Anissimov, previous manager of the Singularity Summit and Media Director for the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, the editors looked for and got the widest remit on AI, mind uploading and whole-brain emulation.
Relevant experts cover the ethical, philosophical as well as the prudential irrationality of mind uploading in some detail. Their contributions reveal much that is still to be considered about the desirability of a future populated by sub-human replicas. On the other hand as the editors state, it is easy to become trapped by old preconceptions, a trap they have successfully avoided by giving their contributors the widest of remits.
The result is that this collection of philosophers, theorists, futurists, AI researchers, and science-fiction writers offers readers the pros and cons of a variety of intriguing possibilities. Or at least sufficient options to get one’s own mind working – perhaps before it’s too late!
— Guest blogger John Bailey was for many years one of London’s best known journalists and spent most of his career in what was Fleet Street. He is an avid bibliophile and record collector, champion advocate for press freedom, and a student of history whose guided tours of London are known to and fondly recalled by exhausted walkers on all five continents.
Lively Stuff from Planet BAM!
- Genetic archaeology is re-introducing us to our diverse history
The author of this overview of humanity’s migration out of Africa – deemed to have occurred some 60,000 years ago – is a research associate in statistical genomics at Oxford University. On the morning that the Times Higher Education supplement publishes its 2017 list of the world’s top universities, placing Oxford in the top spot for the first time, this particular human is certainly in the right place at the right time.
- What rights proceed from consciousness: SAI awaits our answer
This article in SingularityHub may not seem close to the top of the list of humanity’s greatest worries, but it will become more pressing as time goes by, and as thought experiments go, it’s a doozy. It suggests that if the laws of physics do not proscribe the possibility of a non-material consciousness – think: machines that think – then what would its legal status be in terms of rights: the right to, and protections from, and redress where its rights are transgressed.
- Singularity “still decades away”. So what: no worries, then?
This may be one of the more interesting treatments of this week’s survey by the American Association of Artificial Intelligence, but the headline reeks of the PR problem that is growing around AI. The two implicit assumptions are that Super AI is necessarily problematic if not indeed “a bad thing”, and that if the problem is kicked far enough down the road, why worry? As if humanity has the luxury of hanging about for three decades and then start worrying in a hurry?
No, it is not a case that so-called AGI — Artificial General Intelligence — will remain in a total state of not-here-ness until suddenly it is here. It is emerging now and needs to be seriously reflected upon now. Not worried over, but considered by the optimal deployment of the most focused biological intelligence we can muster.