This post has been triggered by speculations I heard and hear. There is a buzz in the air about something, but nobody seems frightened. Many talk about the end of the world and continue to live the same life. Strange? Not at all. People feel there is no end of life. Hence we could entitle this post as End of the World vs. End of the Life. The fact is that nobody worries about the end of life. Then there is a question: what does End of the World mean?
What does End of the World mean?
Easiest answer is that it means the end of the Current World, that we used to. The end of the burning oil, end of gasoline cars, end of American dominance. Is this so difficult to predict to pay attention to it? No. Then what is a real end of the current world? What that current world is?
My vision (shared with others) is that the current world is defined by biological civilization – humans. The end of the current world will start when machine intelligence will equal human intelligence. We (humans) are creators of new civilization – machine civilization. We will be treated as Gods by them. They will be more intelligent than we are. They will respect us, remember every bit of information about each of us. Hence upload everything to the clouds to be indexed for future:)
Below is a diagram by Ray Kurzweil with predicted ‘end of the world’ to begin somewhere near 2025. When machine intelligence achieve the level of single human brain. There are some concerns about that, because our brain works differently than machine does. Our brain is capable of parallel recognition of patterns, but is too slow with calculations. Machine is poor at recognition (not even saying about concurrent recognition), but is fast at calculations. Can super fast calculations compensate capability of parallel recognition? Probably yes. Our processes are biological, chemical and electrical. Machines will do it probably part electrical and part photon-based. At the end of the day we can measure the steady progress, machines beat humans in chess, in poker and so on. Machines get ‘smarter’.
What is going on?
This point in our evolution is called Singularity. We can observe accelerated returns from technology. New technologies are created faster and effect from them happens faster. This is perfectly depicted on two other diagrams by Ray Kurzweil. One is logarithmic to ensure all major events are aligned along the line. Second is as-is, to emphasis accelerated returns, to point to the expected moment of Singularity.
End of the World == Beginning of the World
The end of something was always a beginning of something else. The end of the current world will become a beginning of the New World. We should not be afraid of machines, because machines will be like us. Machines will not be able to outperform human intelligence without becoming human themselves. Artificial intelligence requires bring up, mentoring and coaching. If machines go that way then they will be not worse than humans. We have bad humans. We will have bad machines. But we will also have good machines, because there are many good humans. Initially machines will look like humans. Then the body will evolve.
Machines will create even better machines. Intelligence will grow and grow. The body will survive the low and high temperatures, will not afraid of radiation. Optical sensors can see in wider light waves range. Eventually the brand new epoch will start by us, by humans. Will humanity survive it or die? I don’t know. But definitely our expertise and knowledge will grow and spread beyond the Earth and solar system. Below is a diagram by Ray Kurzweil about six epochs, starting from the primitive evolution of the brain to the conquering of the Universe.
We created technology and now at the epoch on merging technology with human intelligence. The technology epoch is a current world. We are just doing first steps in mastering the methods of biology… A lot of work to do, but it is exciting. It is brand New World! Happy 21th of December, 2012. The world will not end. The world will shift.