Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why Are We Afraid Of Getting Smarter?

What I would watch for over the next 15 years are developments that enable humans to evolve more rapidly, in order to compete with machines.
That is from Arnold Kling discussing Vinod Khosla's essay about the next technology revolution.

Thinking about the singularity and perhaps it is a bad analogy, but will our future robot overlords be of the demeanor of teenagers or middle-aged adults ... or grandparents, and will they be male or female? Will they be an it or a they (a collective like the Borg or individuals)? Will they be Mr. Spock or Navin Johnson? In other words, how human will they be and how much will that hold them back?

Despite all the worry about the singularity, I come down firmly on the side that advances in AI, et al. will be used to radically improve humans. I foresee improvements by orders of magnitude to cognitive abilities in addition to health, strength, and other physical attributes as we advance scientifically and economically. Basically we are some future cyborgs' impoverished ancestors. And of course realize that from nature's point of view up to now we have been the super AI.

Also, to counter the doom and gloom regarding the loss of jobs taken by robots, I offer (in addition to this evidence): Some people predicted the device that is the modern smart phone, but who predicted the massive size of the app universe that serves it? Some predicted how computers would bring productivity enhancements and job replacement/elimination in modern business, but who predicted the magnitude or breadth of information technology jobs?

It is much easier to imagine the elimination of work through improvements. It is much harder to imagine what it takes to get there and what else is created along the way. It is simple to master a pencil and imagine how useful it is immediately upon first encounter. It is virtually impossible to fully comprehend what it takes to create a pencil or to conceive of the smallest sample of that which it can be used to design.

There is always more out there.