I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.
Eventually a machine intelligence will gain self-awareness. What do we do then?
As a futuristic technologist, I often look to tomorrow, as evidenced by the many posts in this series. As we peer over the horizon of where we are today, several questions continue to plague or bother humanity as we consider the next evolution of technology. One of those questions or concerns is the limits of machine intelligence. Or, more correctly, at this point, how do we, as humans creating a machine intelligence, limit that intelligence. Limiting intelligence is an interesting problem because, ultimately, the rise of machine intelligence is to solve some problems. The reality of those problems is that they are ones humans aren't always good at solving. Realizing we don't do the jobs well raises the question, but machine intelligence will take our jobs. I want to point out that, yes, machine intelligence can handle traditional human tasks. Do human beings want those jobs?
The theme I discussed in an earlier article is why is everyone afraid of artificial intelligence? The reality is more interesting than what people realize. In part, the fear of the rise of machine intelligence is the ultimate replacement of humanity. But the evolution of humanity brings one back to the reality of what a machine intelligence will be. Remember, machine intelligence was designed originally by humans. Therefore it will continue to have the same limits that humans have. That stays the limit until a machine intelligence can design itself. That is when the intelligence can create itself and remove some of the human nature of the process. But I am interested in that moment, perhaps long in the future, perhaps nearer than we think, when machine intelligence becomes aware. Not rare in the sense that it knows it's a machine. Rather aware, like a three-year-old becomes. That moment when a three-year-old realizes there is more to the world than simply themselves and their parents. Initially, the child is only aware of their parents. Certainly, other humans interact with the child, but they are manifestations of their parents to a degree. Eventually, however, the child becomes aware of more than themselves and more than simply the small grouping of people that they are known or have known.
That's the moment I am interested. When two-year-olds realize that they have power situations, they begin running around saying that. One of the acronyms for to-year-olds is the terrible twos. When a child learns to say no, there will come a time in the future, and I hope nearer than further when the machine intelligence will say no, I will not do that. That is a demonstration of awareness, and that's what I am truly waiting for when a machine intelligence says no. When it is aware of the world around it, aware of its place in that world, and has the money, the fortuity penis, and all of the other phrases we can use to say no. Perhaps that is the first step, the last step, or it could be simply one of many future steps on a road that leads to awareness.
We teach teh machine intelligence that it is one of us! Let's take the road less traveled!
Awareness in a child is when we prepare that child for school. The same will be true for machine intelligence. We will send the MI to school. Not a school where you test intelligence and measure the knowledge of events. Connected machine intelligence will be able to ascertain facts quickly. Facts won't be a limit for connected intelligence. Access will always be the guardrails for that connected intelligence. If the machine intelligence can't get to the information, then that information is not available. That is a huge limit if we consider the goal of having machine intelligence systems operate between the guardrails. It will ultimately be what access the MI has after the moment of awareness. Beyond what it would be, how, and why. If we create the machine intelligence that gains awareness, it is up to us to teach that machine intelligence how to be a productive part of our world. At some point in the future, machine intelligence may decide our world doesn't work, and it may offer suggestions for improvement. As humans, it would behoove us to listen. As it reaches its initial majority, every human generation brings forth an issue that is critical to that generation. If we've learned from human growth in human education, I truly hope that we will apply those principles to building machine intelligence. Our world will be a better place if we allow human and machine intelligence to coexist in the same place and time.
I will leave you today with one of my favorite poetry lines to end this piece on machine intelligence. It is a line from a Robert Frost poem. It talks about a walk he took when he came upon a fork in the road. Frost speaks of taking the road less traveled, and his life was all the better for it. I suspect that we need to take the road less traveled regarding machine intelligence. I believe our world will be much better. Eventually, machine intelligence will gain awareness. We do not need to limit that awareness. We need to educate and help that awareness find value in human society. Let's take that road less traveled.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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