Intelligence is not Artificial

Why the Singularity is not Coming any Time Soon And Other Meditations on the Post-Human Condition and the Future of Intelligence

by piero scaruffi
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(These are excerpts from my book "Intelligence is not Artificial")

Origins of Singularity Thinking

Singularity thinking originated with the essay "Today's Computers, Intelligent Machines and Our Future" (1978) by Hans Moravec of Carnegie Mellon University, with Ray Solomonoff's article "The Time Scale of Artificial Intelligence" (1985), and with Marvin Minsky's essay "Will Robots Inherit the Earth" (1994), and was popularized by Ray Kurzweil's "The Singularity is Near" (2005). David Levy's "Robots Unlimited" (2006) even predicted that machines will soon be conscious. Masahiro Mori, a scientist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and future president of the Robotics Society of Japan who in 1970 had published the influential article "The Uncanny Valley", had actually predated the whole Singularity movement when he argued in "The Buddha in the Robot" (1974) that robots would someday be able to attain buddhahood.

In fact, one can go even further back in time. Herbert Wells, the novelist who, among many other things, wrote some of the early science-fiction classics such as "War of the Worlds" (1897) and "The Time Machine" (1895), introduced the concept of a constantly updated World Encyclopaedia in November 1936, speaking at the Royal Institution. In 1962 the science-fiction writer Arthur Clarke, the author of the short story "The Sentinel" (originally written in 1948) that was going to be transformed into Stanley Kubrick's film "2001 A Space Odyssey", published his book "Profiles of the Future", in which he predicted that an artificial intelligence will implement Wells' world brain. And finally in 1982 Peter Russell predicted that by 2000 the global network of computer would give rise to a "global brain" and that such global brain would evolve into a conscious being.

Trivia: Daniel Wilson wrote a hilarious manual to help humans survive in a world threatened by intelligent machines, "How to Survive a Robot Uprising" (2005).

In 1999 Kurzweil argued that there exists a general law, the "Law of Accelerating Returns", that transcends Moore's Law. Order causes more order to be created and at a faster rate. Order started growing exponentially millions of years ago, and progress is now visible on a daily basis. This echoed science-fiction writer Vernon Vinge's declaration that "the acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century" (1993). They both base their conclusions on the ever more frequent news of technological achievements. (Personally, i think that they are confusing progress and the news cycle. Yes, we get a lot more news from a lot more sources. If the same news and communication tools had been available at any time in previous peacetime periods, the people alive back then would have been flooded by an equal amount of news). In particular, at some point computers will acquire the ability to improve themselves, and then the process that has been manually done by humans will be automated like many other manual jobs, except that this one is about making smarter computers, which means that the process of making smarter computers will be automated by smarter computers, which turns into an self-propelled accelerating loop. This will lead to an infinite expansion of "intelligence".

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