Singularity : Artificial Intelligence and Feelings
Normally, we say this boy is intelligent, as a synonymous of him being clever. We used to take for granted that intelligence was an exclusively human peculiarity. And we wouldn’t imagine ourselves saying it about an artificial artifact, whether it is a car or a toy or any other thing: this machine is clever, or would we? Or would we say it when talking about a healthcare software or a computer game? I don’t think so. Not yet, at least. Singularity is not here yet.
But we, our society, our progress, as a surfer would on the top of the wave of his life, we are running and accelerating dramatically towards that point in which intelligence will surpass the human brain and it will also be characteristic of other entities. Should we say other things, other objects, other machines?
Maybe, what we call intelligence today, will transform itself into something with it’s own entity. The Cloud may be a prehistory of what that ethereal, omnipresent intelligence could be. All that information, all that data, that amazingly Big Data, concentrated in a few computer farms all over the world and constantly shared with the whole humanity, with the permission of tech companies, of course. That could be the start of it all.
But there is something else to take into consideration. The same way we told the boy he is clever, we tell it to the girl, of course but, in both cases, we are not only telling them that they have a lot of data in their brain, or that they are able to calculate very fast, or that they can read very quickly. There is something else, something that only humans, right now, have. And that is all those things, plus feelings, moods, a certain type of sensitivity that only humans have and maybe other things that we don’t know yet. Animal activists may argue also animals can show these attributes, specially mammals. But let’s just focus, for now, on humans.
The first person to ever put on the table the concept of singularity was the mathematician John von Neumann. In fact, his real name was Neumann János Lajos and he was born in Budapest, at that time, still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From an early age he proved to have an extremely sharp intelligence and he would become one of the most important mathematicians of his time. Among others, his contributions are important in quantum mechanics and the theory of games.
Here is one of the things he said about singularity: “technological progress will become incomprehensibly rapid and complicated” That was in the last century’s fifties.
We could define singularity as the point in which humans and machines mix, melt with each other, so that we cannot tell where one of them begins, neither where the other ends: it’s the point in which artificial intelligence surpasses the biological one. And then, yes, we will probably tell to a thing: you are clever, meaning IT is clever.
More recently specialists also talk about the concept of intelligence explosion to refer to singularity and inventor Ray Kurzweil, would say, in his book The Singularity Is Near, that the specific starting date would be the year 2045. I find a bit difficult to make such an accurate prophecy, but Mr Kurzweil has a reputation of being right in many cases, in many predictions.
Recently I met the young Swiss entrepreneur Alen Arslanagic, nominated by Forbes 30 under 30, that is the 30 most influential persons under 30 years old in their region. He told me, during an interview as part of my work for the impactIA Foundation, that the most plausible answer to the singularity, in order to avoid being ruled by the machines (or maybe the only one) would be to integrate the artificial intelligence as part of our humanity. And he would specifically say, for instance, that we will most probably be permanently connected to the cloud, in order to retrieve and to process data. He also said we would communicate with each other without talking; some tech version of telepathy, I would say. A bit weird, isn’t it? But, at the same time, absolutely fascinating.
But then, if we integrate the artificial intelligence as part of ourselves, if we become hyper-mega intelligent cyborgs, what is the point of wanting to integrate the human feelings into other bodies, like robots, for instance? What for? Because if the prophet has already gone to the mountain, to borrow a biblical image, why would we then even think about moving that mountain? We, humans, could still have feelings in exclusivity and we would enrich our lives exponentially with the integration of artificial intelligence into our own selves. A crucial issue here is still (and more each time) privacy. And another important subject, related to the former, would be who is the owner of data, of the Big Data?
In any case, we are obviously today at the verge of an incredible change in human history, a change like we have never seen before. And therefore it is difficult to predict exactly what will and will not happen. A change that has already started and that will speed up every day in the decades to come in a geometrical progression.