When you bring up a new idea for your business, your AI instantly cross-references it with ideas that were introduced at a conference in Singapore or Dubai just minutes ago. Many people in do resist total dependence Some could even go cold turkey—once they see what full immersion in AI life is really like. And there is even one system—call it a guardian-angel AI One thing that kept coming up in my interviews was that we will have AIs to monitor other AIs—which I heartily approve of. The idea of a single overlord will probably turn out to be a myth.
Imagine your multiple lives: At 25, you were a mountaineer; at 55, a competitive judo athlete; at 95, a cinematographer; at , a poet. Extending the human life span is one of the dreams of the post-singularity world. AIs will work furiously to keep you healthy. Sensors in your home will constantly test your breath for early signs of cancer, and nanobots will swim through your bloodstream, consuming the plaque in your brain and dissolving blood clots before they can give you a stroke or a heart attack.
I was relieved to find that the combination of superintelligence and the cloud might save us before the next big one arrives.
As far back as , researchers were already using AI to read the signals from neurons on their way to the brain, hacking the nerve pathways to restore mobility to paraplegics and patients suffering from locked-in syndrome, in which they are paralyzed but remain conscious. By , AI has revolutionized the modification of our genomes.
Scientists can edit human DNA the way an editor corrects a bad manuscript, snipping out the inferior sections and replacing them with strong, beneficial genes. Only a superintelligent system could map the phenomenally complex interplay of gene mutations that gives rise to a genius pianist or a star second baseman.
Humans look back at the beginning of the 21st century the way people then looked back at the 18th century: a time of sickness and disaster, where children and loved ones were swept away by diseases. Cholera, lung cancer and river blindness no longer threaten us. By , humans are on the verge of freeing themselves People like Ray Kurzweil, the inventor and author of The Singularity Is Near , are entranced with the idea of living forever.
And that seems reachable. I imagine some societies will come closer to achieving that than others. Yes, there are full-AI zones in , where people collect healthy UBIs and spend their time making movies, volunteering and traveling the far corners of the earth. The best players of these games are learning new strategies and becoming better players. There will be Christian, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish districts in cities such as Lagos and Phoenix and Jerusalem, places where people live in a time before AI, where they drive their cars and allow for the occasional spurt of violence, things almost unknown in the full AI zones.
Life is hard, though. Life spans are half or less of those in the full-AI zones.
Some of them are hackers, members of powerful gangs who steal proprietary algorithms from AI systems, then dash back over the border before security forces can find them. Others are smugglers bringing medicine to religious families who want to live away from AI, but also want to save their children from leukemia. But you never know. But the most unanticipated result of the singularity may be a population imbalance, driven by low birth rates Futurists tend to roll their eyes when you ask about sex bots.
It may be that the new technologies will draw enough crossers to the full-AI side to even up the numbers, or that test-tube babies will become the norm among those living with AI. Imagine that, in , AIs help run nation-states. The biggest surprise in reporting this piece, hands down, was the role AI might play in governance. That may be more positive than curing diseases—saving us before we blow ourselves up. In just a few years, citizens have grown to trust AIs to advise their leaders on the best path for the economy, the right number of soldiers to defend them.
Treaties are negotiated by AIs trained on diplomatic data sets. Each police station in Lagos or Kuala Lumpur has its own lie-detector AI that is completely infallible, making crooked cops a thing of the past. Rather than evolving into the dreaded Skynet of the Terminator movies, superintelligent machines are friendly and curious about us As I learned about AI, the doomsday predictions piled up.
Nanobot attacks! Gray goo! But most of the people working in the field were skeptical of such doomsday predictions.
But imagine that you are the citizen of a totalitarian country like North Korea. As such, you are deeply versed in the dark side of AI. Camps for political prisoners are a thing of the past. Physical confinement is beside the point. The police already know your criminal history, your DNA makeup and your sexual preferences.
Surveillance drones can track your every move. Your Soulband records every conversation you have, as well as your biometric response to anti-government ads it flashes across your video screen at unexpected moments, purely as a test. Privacy died around Fake video is just around the corner, and fake superintelligent video is going to be a nightmare. The calls you receive could be your Aunt Jackie phoning to chat about the weather or a state bot wanting to plumb your true thoughts about the Great Leader.
Meanwhile, the rulers earn billions by leasing the data from the ems to Chinese AI companies, who believe the information is coming from real people. Or, finally, imagine this: The AI the regime has trained to eliminate any threat to their rule has taken the final step and recommissioned the leaders themselves, keeping only their ems for contact with the outside world. It would make a certain kind of sense: To an AI trained to liquidate all resistance If you want to confront the dark side of AI, you must talk to Nick Bostrom, whose best-selling Superintelligence is a rigorous look at several, often dystopian visions of the next few centuries.
To an AI, we may just look like a collection of repurposable atoms. So unless there is some countervailing reason, one might expect it to disassemble us. Despite that last scenario, by the time I finished my final interview, I was jazzed. That kind of high is contagious. Did I want to live to be ? Did I want brain cancer to become a thing of the past? What do you think? Would I vote for an AI-assisted president? I slept slightly better, too, because what many researchers will tell you is that the heaven-or-hell scenarios are like winning a Powerball jackpot.
Extremely unlikely. AI is a tool, like fire or language. But fire, of course, is stupid.
Design, however, will matter. Every single time. We were asked, nuclear bombs or no nuclear bombs, and we went with Choice A. That will be a good thing, probably, or even a wonderful thing. Of course, just by publishing these words, we guarantee that the AIs will know about such a possibility. Sorry, Elon.
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Every single time. AIs are computational machines. Richard Anderson marked it as to-read May 29, If I had to pay for Internet access myself, my parents would murder me. At the moment it is up to the ISP and the individual to be responsible for the regulation of newsgroups and the leaking of state secrets. Follow this author.
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