When we’re not the smartest ones in the room

Views on Artificial Intelligence (AI or, more common these days, AGI) seem to fall into one of three camps:

  • Never happen. Machines will never be smarter than we are, in any way that really matters
  • It will happen and it’ll be game over for humans. This is is the SkyNet scenario. When our machines no longer need us, they’ll destroy us.
  • The next evolutionary leap. A merging of human and artificial intelligence that will — for the most part — benefit man. Think Bishop (Artificial Person) from Aliens, not Ash from Alien.

There’s countless other takes on this but let’s stop with three.

I think one of the reasons many people tremble at the thought of  really smart machines (although I doubt we, or they, will think of themselves that way) is a subconscious fear of Big Time Payback.

What if these superior entities treat us no better than we have dolphins, mountain gorillas or other non-human intelligent creatures? One might argue they have less reason to do so, not being mammals and all.

But let’s talk about why I’m looking forward to a world controlled (managed?) by AGI’s. And note that I’m assuming they’ll keep humans around for as long as a) they need us for something or b) they find us amusing/lovable/interesting/etc.

If they’re really smart, they’re gonna shit-can a few institutions that threaten the entire planet. Religion, politics, Monsanto, Fox News, carbon emissions, suicide vests, Congress, Power Ball and gun shows. (you can make your own list)

We just won’t be able to do some of the stupid shit our species now insists on doing. Like good parents, they won’t let us. Yes, I see a massive Free Will movement spring up, demanding the right to make our own choices, even if they’re harmful to us. The AGI’s will be too smart to bother explaining that free will is an illusion but will, instead, let natural selection take its course. (Stupid will be a virus for which they quickly create a vaccine)

Cro-Magnon eventually became Homo Sapiens (did I get that right?) but it took a long time. This next evolutionary leap will be like that Red Bull guy that jumped back to earth from the edge of space. Much bigger deal. And it will happen — relatively — so much faster that we’ll sort of see it happening and that will be really scary. The future us will arrive while we’re still here.

For my money (except we probably won’t have money) artificial intelligence will be better than no intelligence at all.