Thursday, January 19, 2006

Why do we want next-gen intelligence?

The next generation of intelligence, super-intelligence from our current viewpoint, might not just be computer-related but in the form of one or more of these three things:

1. AI - Artificial Intelligence, computers that have greater than human intelligence, grounded in software and perhaps hardware, not biological wetware.

2. Non-human biologically evolved intelligence from genetic therapy applied to existing biological substrates and/or synthetically created biology.

3. Augmented human intelligence from gene therapy, nanotechnology, implants and/or prostheses applied to humans to evolve super-intelligent humans.

The issue is what happens to us lowly humans in the advent of one or more of these three potential future occurrences. The last case is not a big deal, early adopters and eventually the masses use the technology and become super-humanly intelligent while a small corps of protestors and luddites remain behind.

The first two cases give a little more cause for concern. Non-human super-intelligence will be stratospherically removed from current human intelligence. Dispensing with Kurzweilian optimism, Bill Jovian pessimism and Lanierist quasi-sequitorism and thinking logically, three possibilities exist:

1. Non-human super-intelligence will be indifferent to human intelligence (perhaps most likely but risky since human intelligence could be inadvertently quashed Douglas Adams-like in a minor accident),

2. Non-human super-intelligence will exterminate human intelligence due to perceived competition for resources or some other threat, and/or

3. Non-human super-intelligence will be kind to human intelligence and wants to keep alive or preserve all or part of it. Note the important distinctions between "keep alive and preserve" and "all or part." Again, we cannot possibly imagine superhuman selection parameters for such an exercise, perhaps the individuals with a particular gene are keep alive for further study or some other bizarre situation arises; a welcome invitation to science fiction explore more fully.

Not curiosity and technology lust but rather a broader and better organized agenda should be driving humans to reach this super-intelligent and possibly uncontrollable future.