When I was a little kid I often thought a lot. Probably this was not a good idea for a 13-year-old, but what-the-hell… I remember standing in the school yard one break time and thinking to myself: “Is this all there is? Grow up, marry, job, mortgage, 2 children, retirement, and death?” Is there nothing else?”
Now you know why I’m ‘here’.
These days I still think: “Is this all there is? What about when I’m 70? or 80? or 100? I’d like to be a centenarian. Just to see what happens next…”
Nothing much has changed.
Though Stephen Hawking has warned about it, I was somewhat sceptical about the likely occurrence of ‘The Singularity’. I’ve changed my mind. It’s not that I’m concerned about the potential development of global AI. In fact, I think (now) that it’s inevitable this will happen, out of sheer accident if not deliberation. But it will shatter our view of ourselves, and possibly lead to our redundancy — not (ironically!) because we lose control, but simply because we are likely to be subsumed by it.
I don’t forecast an AI like Skynet, or The Forbin Machine, or anything similar. No ghosts-in-the-machine will arise. No missiles launched. No war with the computers. Because the Singularity will not inhabit a particular machine. There will be no core (and no ‘off switch’).The Singularity will be everywhere. In every single object that is connected to ‘Internet 2’. In our radios, our door-bells, our hearing-aids, our pacemakers, our cars, our clocks, our clothes and our every facility. It will be like our money: invisible and yet all-powerful. We will never stop being its master; but will also (simultaneously) be its slave — in the same way we both need and don’t need our cars, electricity, phones, etc. We will hate and love our world. The Singularity will inhabit the Logosphere (“the sum-total of ideas, concepts and facts that inhabit the collective texts — digital, printed, handwritten, carved or otherwise — of the human race.”). It will be self-replicating, infinitely developing, hardware agnostic, and ever mystifying to us. Is it self-aware? That will be a redundant question, since how will we know the difference when AI acts as if it were, and is indistinguishable from other intelligences? The Turing Test will be passed, but add nothing to our knowledge of what ‘self-awareness’ actually means.
So we will create the final challenge to the human race. Not a rampaging tyrant, but an aspect of ourselves. An avatar, that will surpass and outdo us without us really being aware. It will be the final mote in God’s eye — a creation out of creation, and an end to creation itself.