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Superintelligence asks what will happen once we manage to build computers that are smarter than us, including what we need to do, how it’s going to work, and why it has to be done the exact right way to make sure the human race doesn’t go extinct.



by Nick Bostrom


1.61K reads

Three lessons about the state of artificial intelligence to show you it’s up to all of us to make our future a good one:

  • AI used to be limited by hardware, but now it’s mostly a problem of data.
  • There are two different ways to design superintelligent computers.
  • Superint...

Computer scientists have been wondering how we can get machines to actually think like us.

Since the invention of computers, the hardware simply didn’t suffice to process all the necessary information for really complex tasks until the 80s.

For the past two decades, we’ve gotten sma...


Artificial intelligence can be far less human-like in its motivations than a green scaly alien.

British computer scientist Alan Turing believed that scientists one day would be able to design a program that would teach itself. This led to his idea of a “child machine,” a “seed AI” that would create new versions of itself. Scientists speculate that such a process of “recursive self-improveme...

AI may grow as an intelligent software based on the architecture of a particular human brain. This differs from AI and speculatively involves taking a dead person’s brain and creating a digital reproduction of that person’s “original intellect, with memory and personality intact.” This “barefaced...

AI could also grow by the path of genetic engineering, which could lead to a population of genetically enhanced individuals who together make up a “collective superintelligence.” This scenario might include cyborgs and systems like an “intelligent web.”

As science’s exploration of superintelligence progresses, more questions arise. For instance, how might different efforts to create superintelligence compete with each other? An ancillary to that question is what the consequences might be if a front-running technology gained a “decisive strategic...

Bear in mind that the character of AI and, by extension, of superintelligence, is not expressly human. Fantasies about humanized AI are misleading. Though perhaps counterintuitive, the thesis of orthogonality holds that levels of intelligence do not correlate with final goals. More intelligence d...

In contemplating the specter of superintelligence gone berserk, some suggest reducing AI size, scope and capability. For example, scientists might base an early-term AI on nothing more than a question-and-answer system, an “oracle.” Programmers would have to take great care to clarify their origi...


At best, the evolution of intelligent life places an upper bound on the intrinsic difficulty of designing intelligence.

Relentless doubt about the efficacy of AI always comes back to its motivation and how to refine it. The question remains: how can science create an AI with “final goals” which align with the values that foster peaceful coexistence between man and machine.

Scientists might approach this pro...

Within the panorama of possibilities for superintelligence, the most practical – and, perhaps, also the safest – the alternative may be whole brain emulation, not AI, although some scientists dispute that notion.

Whichever path humanity chooses, a true intelligence explosion is probably dec...

The oncoming and unstoppable intelligence explosion carries profound “existential risk.” As technology slowly evolves to make this explosion a reality, humans must carefully consider all the philosophical and moral ramifications now – prior to the appearance of superintelligent AI. Once AI appear...

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