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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Humanoid sapiens (6)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has had a few rough weeks. First, the Facebook incident in which 2 chatbots went "rogue" (eg, IndependentSun). Then similar "rogue" behaviour happened in 2 Chinese chatbots (BabyQ and XiaoBing). BabyQ "answered the question “Do you love the Communist party?” with a simple “No”. [] Before it was pulled, XiaoBing informed users: “My China dream is to go to America.” (FT).

The above shouldn't come as a surprise as scientists claim that "the human brain is the most complex [object/structure/thing] in the Universe" (eg, BBC, Independent, Live Science, NPR). My earlier blogs on the 4 levels of consciousness (ie, conscious, unconscious, subconscious, and superconscious) made me, again, realise how much we do not know about the human brain.

Given our limited understanding of human intelligence, our efforts in creating artificial intelligence may seem strange. Especially, the quest for strong or true Artificial Intelligence (ie, "behavior at least as skillful and flexible as humans") may never be able to deliver its promises and/or results. It may, however, take years before this conclusion will be reached. Artificial intelligence is likely to become the Operating System (OS) of robotics.

In the meantime, the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 will proceed. There are two areas of particular interest: (1) exterior: prosthetic limbs and/or artificial (robotic) bodies, controlled by human thought (eg, NYT), and (2) interior: the gene-editing method CRISPR-Cas9. In my view, these exterior and interior developments will somehow converge

The Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis works on connecting brains and machines (eg, Mind of the Universe). Originally, this field was called prosthetics. The end result of his work may look like something in between the 1987 sci-fi movie Robocop ("half man, half machine, all cop", IMDb) and the Iron Man movies (2008 onwards, IMDb). 

On 2 August 2017, Nature published a "breakthrough" study on the "Correction of a pathogenic gene mutation in human embryos". NYT: "the achievement is also an example of human genetic engineering, once feared and unthinkable, and is sure to renew ethical concerns that some might try to design babies with certain traits, like greater intelligence or athleticism."

The technological advances in (1) prosthetics and robotics, controlled by human thought, and (ii) the gene-editing method CRISPR-Cas9, will pave the way for transhumanism. In October 2009, Francis Fukuyama labelled this ideology / philosophy as one of the world's most dangerous ideas (Foreign Policy). In less than 10 years, this warning seems outdated.

Artificial Intelligence, CRISPR-Cas9, robotics, and transhumanism are, however, necessary detours in creating Humanoid sapiens, the future descendant of Homo sapiens. Humanoid sapiens will be the end result of Miguel Nicolelis' vision to "create an organic computer and a brain net by connecting human brains" (Mind of the Universe).

The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades (1986) by Timbuk3