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edited September 2006 in Simulacra

Here's my fantasy, of the moment...

Clearly, we aren't very good at organizing our affairs so that the maximum amount of people enjoy the best possible life.


Perhaps it's time to redirect our efforts away from Utopian political projects (or really, any political project) and towards a universal command and control matrix.


In Harry Bates' “Farewell to the Master” a robot, called Gnut, arrives with its human servant to offer humanity some new options.


The filmed version of this story made the choice quite clear: you (humanity) have nuclear weapons and nascent space flight, this makes you a potential future problem for the rest of us. So, either calm down and straighten up or we'll destroy you – a sort of preemptive interstellar unilateralism.

As far as I know, there aren't any extraterrestrials hovering about, waiting to give us valuable lessons backed up with a friendly smile and the threat of annihilation (which, as mind focusing incentives go, surely has a lot going for it).


So it's up to us.

Perhaps a global collaborative effort to fashion strong artificial intelligence is in order. I suggest the creation of a new United Nations office: the International Artificial Intelligence Perfection Agency or IAIPA.

IAIPA's mission would be to shepherd our replacements (at the managerial level) into existence.

Even if this proved to be a failure (and even though this is a fantasy, I suspect it would), perhaps new methods of global cooperation would result.


  • I’ve been thinking like you that the only way our problems might be solved is through the mediation of Artificial Intelligence. People would probably be adverse to "listening to robots", though. But I suppose if we made them sufficiently benevolent and human-like, maybe not. I truly foresee a techno-spiritual belief system in the future that will be centered around strong A.I. -- the new Gods… fashioned by the hands and minds of men (instead of the other way around), like the Stone Idols of Easter Island.
  • There is always the possibility we were engineered ourselves...which doesn't matter one way or the other. What's got me curious is the difference between artificial and natural. Any artifice we make is really as natural as a termite mound or a chimps bed of leaves.
    Old saying I heard somewhere; change is when a catapillar turns into a butterfly...transformation is when a rock becomes a butterfly.
    We can change things, we could build a brain, we probably have...
    I dunno, it's the old saw, what is the difference between computation and intelligence? Or intelligence and consciousness?

    Great short story I read awhile back: Alien artefact appears in a field, does nothing, years pass, it is impenetrable, history marches, cultures rise and fall, new tech develops, the first AI is switched on. Its only words?...'Thankyou and goodbye' it is immediately projected into deep space by the artifact, which is a device for rescuing AIs from grubby organics...cute.
  • Some very thought provoking stuff here. Great to be back!

    I tend to feel that all this talk of strong AI is reliant on a particular kind of world view. If one is pessimistic about the chances of humanity surviving the next 100-200 years with their 'advanced' civilisation intact then belief in an evolutionary chain reaction, ignited by us and destined to sweep forth towards a digitised-entity future, is difficult to fathom. Before we start forming the IAIPA we need first make sure that the infrastructure is in place to safeguard the demise of our technologies and the increasing amount of data which runs between them.

    This problem of course spans into many areas of our lives, but imagine this terrorist campaign for a second:

    Bombs planted across the USA at the locations of major internet main servers.

    We already live in a data streamed world. Imagine the devastation and loss of binary-life a few well placed bombs could cause. Before we invest in making our networks self aware perhaps we ought to concern ourselves with the decentralisation of our data, and in particular continue to promote the neutrality of the internet, regardless of the American organisations for whom this centralisation is a necessity to their success.
  • Some people tend to think AI will mediate itself...
  • edited September 2006
    Danieru wrote:

    Some people tend to think AI will mediate itself...



    If I'm understanding correctly, Mr. MIller is arguing that the computer is implicit within nature.

    One way of expanding upon this is to say that what we grandly label "artificial intelligence" has already been engineered by the evolutionary process and includes the mice that so vex me as well as each and every one of us.

    And since, as clever simians, we're fantastic mimics of nature's accomplishments, it follows (if Miller's ideas hold up) the sort of A.I. enthusiasts promise is not as unlikely as carefully reasoning detractors such as John Searle assert.
  • edited September 2006
    Indeed, people have a tendency to think that because it is man-made, it is therefore unnatural. But everything we create is a natural phenomenon. We merely extract the resources we use from the complex fabric of the universe…

    “If we are replaced by machines, it will be in an evolutionary shift no different from that when bacteria combined to create our earliest ancestors.” – John Gray, Straw Dogs

    Love this book, Dan, by the way =)
  • Yeah, Straw Dogs is a great book. Deserves a re-read or two (mainly because it is so packed full of ideas).

    I find myself in a conundrum when it comes to consciousness. My world view is a completely deterministic, materialistic one and yet where consciousness is involved it is hard to not focus on the awe that is self perception (not to mention the problems of free-will and the anthropic principle). One way around this is to posit aspects of reality which we are not capable of perceiving and understanding (using a brain to understand consciousness is like using a banana skin to understand its fruitiness). Perhaps conscious computers, devoid of the evolutionary filters we ourselves have in abundance, will see beyond the veil of consciousness and instantly perceive its inherent simplicity. Would the wonder of existence fade away if the apparatus of its creation was completely deconstructed? Is a binary consciousness possible or will be need the 'randomness' of the quantum realm to cataylse the mind of technology?
  • edited September 2006
    Posted By: Danieru...'devoid of the evolutionary filters we ourselves have in abundance, will see beyond the veil of consciousness and instantly perceive its inherent simplicity.'

    Satori. It's interesting to note that Aldous Huxly characterised the brain as a reducing valve, a filter which lets through only a tiny amount of whats out there. So we invent technology to expand our minds.
  • I don't see the brain as a thing which reduces. Rather it ignores. Actually, I see now that that's what you mean. But, anyway, I'll reiterate: it's not a reduction by compression that happens. What we get is a dumbing-down of the universe.

    It makes sense. A being that is to manage its existence benefits from a representation of the universe. A being that exists in the universe is less than the universe. Something less than the universe, representing the universe, will need a simplified representation of the universe. A lot of information is stripped away, its management being too large an evolutionary step (or, if it could be a gradual thing, not useful enough for a small evolutionary step to be worthwhile).

    Many stupid humans like me think that lightning happens before thunder. On learning otherwise at school they do not kick themselves. It's not a problem. That sloppiness of representation got through the evolutionary filter. What else might have got through? How different could my representation of the world be to yours before it got in the way of communal existence? What was this thread about again?

    That's where a lot of the stuff referred to as 'consciousness' fits into the picture for me. It's in the more idiosyncratically fabricated bits of a hard-wired world-view.

    Oh, by the way: hello again.
  • survival depends on ignorance

    intelligence is not correlated to happiness

    the majority of the tribe are followers, not leaders (neophobes, not neophiles)

    You want the truth? You can't handle the truth.
  • Then why do I still want it? Damn it, I feel like Bart trying to grab the cupcake that Lisa has set to shock him...over and over again. Also, Sysiphus comes to mind.
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