Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Artificial Intelligence is Gaining on Us (Jeopardy! part 2)

I watched the first 2 episodes of the Jeopary! challenge between former champions and an IBM super-computer. Humanity isn't fairing well.

We may live long enough to watch the debate in Congress over whether computers should get the vote (once they become indistinguishable from humans). Kurzweil points out that when we build a machine as intelligent as we are, it'll be the last machine we have to build, since the machine itself can create all future machines. This means that if we allow robots to vote, they'll simply overwhelm us by replicating, and then exploiting the power of "one 'man' one vote." Wouldn't this make universal suffrage for all beings (whether bio or techno) impossible in practice, even if philosophically or morally imperative?

(We could e.g. legislate that all beings that are exactly the same get just one vote collectively... but that'd piss off a whole bunch of identical twins!)

Even now, human groups with high birth-rates eventually gain more power at the ballot box. This doesn't create immediate crisis, since humans are so slow and inaccurate in our efforts to reproduce ourselves. When computers can do so without friction -- making their replicas quickly and flawlessly -- it'll be a different matter.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kurzweil on Computers on Jeopardy

This coming Monday, 2/14/2011, a computer will compete against two human champions on the TV show Jeopardy. If the computer is able to understand the quiz show questions (which often use puns, metaphors, and other word-play), some artificial intelligence experts will consider it a great leap forward. After all, understanding complex language is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence. And if the machine can understand the question, it will surely win, as it's got a monstrous advantage over any biological brain when it comes to searching for answers through massive amounts of data.

Here's artificial intelligence wizard and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicting that the computer will triumph.

I've been intrigued by Kurzweil since I read his book The Singularity is Near (and even understood some of it). And I was impressed by his accessibility when I emailed him about the Buddhist perspective of consciousness.