Max Tegmark: Artificial Intelligence Is Only the Beginning

Will an artificial superintelligence appear soon? What exactly is artificial superintelligence?

According to Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark, artificial intelligence is just the beginning of a new revolution. He claims that in the future there might be an artificial superintelligence, which will be smarter than humans.

Continue reading to learn more about the evolution of artificial intelligence.

What Is Artificial Superintelligence?

According to Max Tegmark, artificial intelligence is the first step toward a new type of intelligence. An “artificial superintelligence” is a computer sophisticated enough to understand and accomplish goals far more capably than today’s humans. For example, a computer that could manage an entire factory at once—designing, manufacturing, and shipping out new products all on its own—would be an artificial superintelligence. By definition, a superintelligent computer would have the power to do things that humans currently can’t; thus, it’s likely that its invention would drastically change the world. 

Tegmark asserts that if we ever invent artificial superintelligence, it will probably occur after we’ve already created “artificial general intelligence” (AGI). This term refers to an AI that can accomplish any task with at least human-level proficiency—including the task of designing more advanced AI.

Experts disagree regarding how likely it is that computers will reach human-level general intelligence. Some dismiss it as an impossibility, while others only disagree on when it will probably occur. According to a survey Tegmark conducted at a 2015 conference, the average AI expert is 50% certain that we’ll develop AGI by 2055.

AGI is important because, in theory, a computer that can redesign itself to be more intelligent can use that new intelligence to redesign itself more quickly. AI experts call this hypothetical accelerating cycle of self-improvement an intelligence explosion. If an intelligence explosion were to happen, the most sophisticated computer on the planet could advance from mildly useful AGI to world-transforming superintelligence in a remarkably short time—perhaps just a few days or hours.

Evidence That Artificial Superintelligence Is Possible

The idea that we could build a computer that’s smarter than us may seem far-fetched, but some evidence indicates that such technology is on its way, according to Tegmark.

First, the artificial intelligence we’ve created so far is functioning more and more like AGI. Researchers have developed a new way to design sophisticated AI called deep reinforcement learning. Essentially, they’ve created computers that can repeatedly modify themselves in an effort to accomplish a certain goal. This means that machines can now use the same process to learn different skills—a necessary component of AGI. Currently, there are many human skills that developers can’t teach to computers using deep reinforcement learning, but that list is becoming shorter.

Second, Tegmark asserts that given everything we know about the universe, there’s no obvious reason to believe that artificial superintelligence is impossible. Although it may seem like our brains possess unique creative powers, they store and process information in much the same way that computers do. The information in our heads is a biological pattern rather than a digital one, but the information itself is the same no matter what material it’s encoded with. In theory, computers can do everything our brains can do.

Tegmark concedes that AGI and artificial superintelligence might still be a pipe dream, impossible to create for some reason we don’t yet see. However, he contends that if there’s even a small chance that an artificial superintelligence will exist in the near future, it’s our responsibility to do anything in our power to ensure that it has a positive impact on humanity. This is because artificial superintelligence has the power to completely transform the world—or end it—as we’ll see next.

Max Tegmark: Artificial Intelligence Is Only the Beginning

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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