December 28, 2015

"Bostrom’s underlying concerns about machine intelligence, unintended consequences and potentially malevolent computers have gone mainstream."

Washington Post You can’t attend a technology conference these days without someone bringing up the A.I. anxiety. by Joel Achenbach

'It hovers over the tech conversation with the high-pitched whine of a 1950s-era Hollywood flying saucer. People will tell you that even Stephen Hawking is worried about it. And Bill Gates. And that Elon Musk gave $10 million for research on how to keep machine intelligence under control. All that is true.

'Artificial intelligence, Bostrom said, “is the technology that unlocks this much larger space of possibilities, of capabilities, that enables unlimited space colonization, that enables uploading of human minds into computers, that enables intergalactic civilizations with planetary-size minds living for billions of years.”

'There’s a bizarre wrinkle in Bostrom’s thinking. He thinks a superior civilization would possess essentially infinite computing power. These superintelligent machines could do almost anything, including create simulated universes that include programs that precisely mimic human consciousness, replete with memories of a person’s history — even though all this would be entirely manufactured by software, with no real-world, physical manifestation.

'Bostrom goes so far as to say that unless we rule out the possibility that a machine could create a simulation of a human existence, we should assume that it is overwhelmingly likely that we are living in such a simulation.'

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