While a warning about the application of AI and intelligent machines (IMs) in the area of military application might be appropriate, what if they're just a natural branch on the the tree of natural evolution?
The big questions
The big questions that we must now consider and attempt to answer are:
What are the real prospects of IMs developing and the timing?
Will some aspect of complexity, unpredictable performance, malfunction, or poor reliability of first-generation AI and IMs eventually cause the downfall of the human branch of the tree of life?
If a new branch of evolution defined by IMs comes into existence, will we live with and alongside IMs, just as we do with other electronic devices, or will we enslave them and use them as animals, as we perhaps did at an earlier time as Neanderthals? Or more likely, will we use them as tools and even body parts to enhance our existence?
Will intelligent machines become the means of survival as we see mass changes to our universe, making the conditions on earth uninhabitable for a carbon-based organic based species?
If so, perhaps the highlighted AI and IMs regions in Figure 1 should be considered as extension of the human branch, as illustrated in Figure 2.
Perhaps our knowledgeable readers who are in the best position to separate fact from fantasy would like to join the debate below. What is your assessment of the possibility a new species might arrive on the scene, and when and in what form?
As a result of the AI article above author Larry Kilham was kind enough to provide me with an advance copy of his AI related book and as a summer project I have been working my way through it. In this, his latest very readable and entertaining book, Winter of the Genomes, author Larry Kilham explores and explains almost all aspects of the current state of development of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and poses some very important questions: Where will humans fit in? Can the human relationship with robots and AI machines ever really proceed beyond one of master and slave or will AI inflict some very different kind of changes in society? An excellent contribution to our AI debate and a very worthwhile read. I understand it is due for publication sometime in October 2014.
For sure, the "mechanics" (what a loaded word) of genetic reproduction are not understood, hardly at all. Consider the remarkable complexity of the fruit fly transcriptome. People at UC Berkeley found about 100 genes that can encode hundreds or even thousands of different types of proteins, which they do selectively, in a completely unknown way, in response to environmental stress tests they performed on them. And that's only a fruit fly.
i now close my comments on this question. I hope they have opened some thoughts of those working on the problem of 'Machine intelligence". Truly, one of humanity's "hard" problems and I honor all of you working on it.
That is false. Everybody has the same undestanding of thinking. That is, I believe that there are other beings like me out there. This is the first principle of faith, that makes human communication posssibe. But if you don't understand the difference between "thinking" and "what thinking means"? Gosh, try to crawl out of the mud.
Oh God, that's rediculous. We communicate with programs written by humans (computers can't communicate, what an absurd idea). We communicate with algorithims that supply us with character strings that we can recognize, often provided reasonably directly to us by other humans, but ultimately always provided by humans, even if indirectly. Truly, who else can possily provide us with these symbols from which we generate meaning? And, if they were not intentional human communications, how would we possibly recognize them?
I understand Dijkstra's comment to mean that it's pointless to argue about whether computers can think because everybody has a different understanding of what thinking means. If one argues that a submarine cannot swim, then one would have to argue that an airplane cannot fly. Birds fly, and so do airplanes. Fish swim, but for some reason submarines don't? It's just a question of what semantics you want to assign to the words, and is about as useful as wondering why the plural of mouse is mice, yet the plural of house is houses.
Personally, I like the Turing test. Every day people communicate with other entities on the Internet, and have no way of knowing whether the entity on the other end is another human, an intelligent computer, someone from another planet, or a dog :-)
Update: Besides, one can speak of a vessel as swimming, as in my father's favorite line from Joseph Conrad's Narcissus, which refers to a disabled ship at sea: "As long as she swims I will cook!"