Sunday, April 26, 2009

What Are We Afraid Of?

Some people are fearful of the possibility that computers some day will be smarter than humans. People who know about these things predict that if technology continues to advance at the same rate we will reach the point, in approximately 2035, when computing power will be greater than our brain. This is called the singularity--a singular moment in history when the world will change forever. What will this mean to our lives?

First of all, in order for this to occur we must still be in existence. This likely will be the case. Secondly, technology must continue to advance at the same pace. Odds are that it will continue to advance; most likely at an even faster pace. As computing power increases, artificial intelligence becomes faster and smarter and then finally reaches the point where it is 50% as smart as man, then 75%, then 99%, then equal, and then slightly smarter. Once A.I. is smarter than humans it takes over the development of computing power and develops computers smarter than itself. This can accelerate geometrically so at first it will be twice as smart, then four times, eight times, and ultimately millions of time as smart as we are.

This is not speculation. This is very real and we most likely will experience this in our lifetimes if we are fifty or under. Why are we afraid of this? At the very least it will enable our physical lives to improve significantly. There is no limit to what we can imagine can happen. The progress that can be made in health, mortality, travel, communication, energy, and the ability to improve the standards of living of the world's population will be incredible. War for acquisition and control will no longer be necessary where everyone has what they want.

Actually we cannot imagine what the world will be like when we have the availability of an intelligence level that is beyond our comprehension. Immortality, space travel, penetrating the mysteries of death and sleep, creating fantasy parks in which we can experience our most secret and deepest desires are just the tip of the iceberg of what may be possible

Again I ask why are we afraid of this? What is there about living in a world where war, disease, poverty, and unfulfilling work no longer exist that stirs an uneasiness within us. Is it that we are attached to our suffering, that we need to struggle in order to feel meaning in our lives. Are we afraid of losing control to machines whose motivation will be to enslave us and destroy us? Are we so frightened of change that even when it offers us the hope of everything we have ever wanted we cannot accept it.?

This scenario of our future world is not science fiction, although it is hard to imagine and take seriously. If humans are without souls or without the possibility of higher consciousness and a connection to beauty, love, and truth, then the picture I am painting still offers something to look forward to. If we are part of a creative process and more than just physical beings than we have nothing to fear from the delegation of the chores of our lives to machines or computers. This question about why we are afraid of this is an important one. We need to explore it carefully.


  1. So then are you supposing computers one day will have a capacity for "creative intelligence"? That they will move beyond computation of date and generation of models to actually being able to think on their own? That one day computers will actively create such things are new technologies, medicines and solutions to counter human nature itself?

  2. ..that is computation of "data"
    ..actively create such this "as"

  3. Will computers allow me to experience a stadium full of people cheering for me, while simultaneously ejaculating in my pants? That would be awesome.