Nick Bostrom

Inside your cranium is the thing that does the reading. This thing, the human brain, has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that we owe our dominant position on the planet. Other animals have stronger muscles and sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains. Our modest advantage in general intelligence has led us to develop language, technology and complex social organisation. The advantage has compounded over time, as each generation has built on the achievements of its predecessors.
If some day we build machine brains that surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. And, as the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of our species would depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.
We do have one advantage: we get to build the stuff. In principle, we could build a kind of superintelligence that would protect human values. We would certainly have strong reason to do so. In practice, the control problem—the problem of how to control what the superintelligence would do—looks quite difficult. It also looks like we will only get one chance. Once unfriendly superintelligence exists, it would prevent us from replacing it or changing its preferences. Our fate would be sealed.

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1 Response to Nick Bostrom

  1. shinichi says:

    Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

    by Nick Bostrom

    Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life.

    The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful – possibly beyond our control. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.

    But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed Artificial Intelligence, to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?

    This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom’s work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.

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