If AI Means The End Of Us, Maybe That’s Okay

first_imgFor a while now I have been wanting to write an essay or even a book with the title, “The Last of Our Kind,” looking ahead to a time when machines become more intelligent than humans and/or humans incorporate so much digital technology that they become post-biological creatures, indistinguishable from machines. Those digitally-augmented descendants will be so different from us as to seem like an entirely different species. What happens to us? Simple “biologicals” might be able to co-exist for a time with our more intelligent descendants, but not for long. Eventually, creatures that we today consider “humans” – creatures like us – will go extinct.At the heart of this line of thinking is the notion that what matters most is intelligence, not biology. What are we humans? At the end of the day we are nothing more than biological containers for intelligence. And frankly, as containers go, biological ones are not ideal. We’re frail, and superstitious. We don’t live very long. We need to eat and sleep. We learn slowly. Each new generation spends years re-learning all the stuff that previous generations have already learned. Some of us get sick, and others then devote enormous resources to caring for the sick ones. It’s all incredibly slow and crude. Progress takes forever.So maybe we are just a stopping point. Maybe the whole point of biological creatures is to evolve into something that generates just enough intelligence to evolve into something else. Maybe our purpose is to create our own replacements. And maybe, thanks to computers and artificial intelligence, we are not far from reaching this huge evolutionary inflection point.What Is To Be Done?Others are thinking along these lines, and even trying to do something about it, as evidenced this terrific essay from the New York Times by Huw Price, a philosopher at University of Cambridge. It’s a long piece but I’ve grabbed some highlights:“I do think that there are strong reasons to think that we humans are nearing one of the most significant moments in our entire history: the point at which intelligence escapes the constraints of biology. And I see no compelling grounds for confidence that if that does happen, we will survive the transition in reasonable shape. Without such grounds, I think we have cause for concern.“We face the prospect that designed nonbiological technologies, operating under entirely different constraints in many respects, may soon do the kinds of things that our brain does, but very much faster, and very much better, in whatever dimensions of improvement may turn out to be available.”Price and many others believe we are nearing the point at which artificial general intelligence is achieved. But this raises profound existential questions for us:“Indeed, it’s not really clear who “we” would be, in those circumstances. Would we be humans surviving (or not) in an environment in which superior machine intelligences had taken the reins, to speak? Would we be human intelligences somehow extended by nonbiological means? Would we be in some sense entirely posthuman (though thinking of ourselves perhaps as descendants of humans)?”The argument that some people put forward is that machines will never be able to do everything a human can do. They’ll never be able to write poetry, or have dreams, or feel sorrow or joy or love. But as Price points out, who cares?“Don’t think about what intelligence is, think about what it does. Putting it rather crudely, the distinctive thing about our peak in the present biological landscape is that we tend to be much better at controlling our environment than any other species. In these terms, the question is then whether machines might at some point do an even better job (perhaps a vastly better job).”Of course machines will do a vastly better job at many things than we humans can do. Machines are already doing that in countless domains. Chess is one example. Stock market trading is another. Imagine what would happen to the world’s markets, and thus to the world’s economy, if tomorrow all the computers were shut off and we went back to doing it by hand. Imagine humans trying to compete side by side in this domain against machine. It’s unfathomable.Trying To Stop The UnstoppablePrice and others are trying to come up with ways to keep this from happening, or to make sure that “good” outcomes are more likely than “bad” outcomes. Toward that end Price has co-founded the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (C.S.E.R.) at Cambridge.I think assigning values like “good” and “bad” to the various possible outcomes of an evolutionary process makes no sense. Evolution happens and we don’t have control over it. Whatever rules some well-wishers might put into place to prevent certain outcomes, others will find ways to work around them. It’s what Yale computer scientist David Gelernter calls “the Orwell Law of the Future,” and it goes like this: Any new technology that can be tried will be.We are on a path, and there is no stopping it. This is neither good nor bad, it just is. Was it bad when single-celled organisms evolved into more complex organisms and then got eaten by them? I suppose the single-celled organisms weren’t psyched about it. But without that process, we humans wouldn’t be here. And if now it is our turn to be erased by evolution, so what? From the perspective of the universe, who cares if humans cease to exist?The great irony in all this is that we can’t stop pushing forward with dangerous technologies (AI, bioengineering) because evolution has hard-wired our brains in such a way that we cannot resist pushing forward, even if the consequence of this ever-upward march of evolution is that we end up rendering ourselves extinct. We humans like to believe that we among all living creatures are special and unique. And we are, if only because we are the first species that will knowingly create something superior to ourselves. We will engineer our own replacements. Which when you think about it is both brilliant and phenomenally stupid at the same time. In other words, perfectly human.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 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Backlash from Mayweather-McGregor will last years, says Duva

first_imgMOST READ LATEST STORIES WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide READ: LOOK: Netizens abuzz over confirmed McGregor-Mayweather bout There are some who think that if McGregor starts losing he might resort to throwing elbows and kicks at Mayweather, but the promoters of the fight say that won’t happen.“It is in the contract,” said Dana White. “The fight is under the rules of boxing. There would be a lawsuit. If that ever happened, Conor would depart with a lot of money, and Conor likes money.”White said plans are in the works to have the fighters go on a promotional tour of major US cities.READ: Mayweather says he offered McGregor $15M to fightSince the fight was announced Mayweather has mentioned it just once via social media — as he appears to be more concerned about showing off his extravagant lifestyle.He has launched something he calls the “Mayweather Challenge” because he is “tired of people on social media bragging they live a certain lifestyle when they don’t.”Over the last few days, Mayweather has made a point of using his Twitter and Instagram to show off his private jet.That was followed by another video taken inside his “Rolls-Royce Phantom Limousine” as he boasts about his Patek Philippe gold watch while the camera pans down to show off his “Chinchilla” floor mats. Olympian Michael Phelps set to race against Great White Shark Boxing legend Mayweather and mixed martial arts superstar McGregor announced plans on Wednesday for a boxing showdown that could become one of the richest bouts in history. The fight will take place August 26 in the American boxing capital of Las Vegas.READ: Mayweather, McGregor agree to August super fight FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“You’re all going to write about it. People will get all excited,” Duva said of the competition. “And the casual fans we always want to bring into the tent are going to be disappointed again.“It’s going to be years before they want to see another boxing event,” she told the Los Angeles Times. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire View comments Conor McGregor teases fans as he posts a photoshopped poster of him and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on his Twitter account. Photo from Conor McGregor’s Twitter accountPromoter Kathy Duva says the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight is “bad for boxing” and the backlash from the exhibition spectacle will likely dog the sport for years to come.“Of course it’s bad for boxing,” said Duva. “It’s going to suck up all the air in the room.”ADVERTISEMENT Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. What ‘missteps’? Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Mayweather, who is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, is a heavy favourite against McGregor — who hasn’t boxed competitively in the ring since he was a teenager.READ: McGregor backers: Mayweather fight is no sideshow“It’s not a boxing event, it’s a spectacle,” said Duva, who is the promoter for Russian boxer Sergey Kovalev, who will fight Andre Ward in a world title light heavyweight rematch on Saturday.“On the other hand, when this is over and this fight ends up the way I expect it will, the next time somebody asks me, ‘MMA or boxing, what’s the better sport?’ I’ll say, ‘We know who the bad asses are because Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor just got their asses kicked by two boxers.’“We’ll have that to cling to,” she told the paper.ADVERTISEMENT Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chickenlast_img read more

A title and second-place in tow, Saina Nehwal returns from ‘satisfactory’ Europe leg of BWF events

first_imgAce Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal returned to Hyderabad after two creditable finishes in the European leg of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Super Series tournaments.Saina, who won bronze medal at the London Olympics this year, won the Denmark Open title last week, making it her fourth consecutive title victory. However, she could followed that up with only a runner-up finish at the French Open, as the World No. 3 lost tamely to Japanese Minatsu Mitani in the final.The year 2012 has been a rewarding one for Saina with title triumphs in Switzerland, Thailand, Indonesia and Denmark, besides the Olympic medal. She is expected to return to action at the Hong Kong Open beginning November 20.Satisfied with her performance in Europe, Saina said, “I am very happy to have played so well in Denmark and France and now I will be concentrating on Hong Kong Open. I’m very happy to have won in Denmark…happy with the way I played.”last_img read more