Accelerating Future Transhumanism, AI, nanotech, the Singularity, and extinction risk.


Singularity Institute Covered by NPR’s All Things Considered

From today's program:

It's been called "the rapture of the nerds." For some computer experts, the Singularity is the moment when an artificial intelligence learns how to improve itself in an exponential "intelligence explosion." They say it's a bigger threat to puny humans than global warming or nuclear war — and they're trying to figure out how to stop it.

Reading the transcript, it seems like OK coverage.

Filed under: SIAI, singularity 35 Comments

Josh Tenenbaum Video Again: Bayesian Models of Human Inductive Learning

I posted this only a month ago, but here's the link to the video again. People sometimes say there's been no progress in AI, but the kind of results obtained by Tenenbaum are amazing and open up a whole approach to AI that uses fast and frugal heuristics for reasoning and requires very minimal inspiration from the human brain.


In everyday learning and reasoning, people routinely draw successful generalizations from very limited evidence. Even young children can infer the meanings of words, hidden properties of objects, or the existence of causal relations from just one or a few relevant observations -- far outstripping the capabilities of conventional learning machines. How do they do it? And how can we bring machines closer to these human-like learning abilities? I will argue that people's everyday inductive leaps can be understood as approximations to Bayesian computations operating over structured representations of the world, what cognitive scientists have called "intuitive theories" or "schemas". For each of several everyday learning tasks, I will consider how appropriate knowledge representations are structured and used, and how these representations could themselves be learned via Bayesian methods. The key challenge is to balance the need for strongly constrained inductive biases -- critical for generalization from very few examples -- with the flexibility to learn about the structure of new domains, to learn new inductive biases suitable for environments which we could not have been pre-programmed to perform in. The models I discuss will connect to several directions in contemporary machine learning, such as semi-supervised learning, structure learning in graphical models, hierarchical Bayesian modeling, and nonparametric Bayes.

Filed under: AI, science, videos 4 Comments

IBM Cat Brain Nonsense in the Zeitgeist

I found another ridiculous article on IBM's so-called "cat brain" at TechWorldNews, titled "IBM Researchers Go Way Beyond AI With Cat-Like Cognitive Computing". I run into these articles all the time doing AI-related searches, so even though they were published a year ago, their deception remains strongly in effect. The fact that so many people actually believe what IBM implies shows how fundamentally confused 99% of the population (including geeks) is about AI in general. Here's a quote from the article:

IBM researchers have developed a cognitive computer simulation that mimics the way a cat brain processes thought, and they expect to be able to mimic human thought processes within a decade. "A cognitive computer could quickly and accurately put together the disparate pieces of any complex data puzzle and help people make good decisions rapidly," said Daniel Kantor, medical director of Neurologique.

Mimics the way a cat brain processes thought. They actually wrote that. So people believe in a computer that processes cat thought existing in 2009, but don't expect a computer that mimics human thought for hundreds of years or ever? People really do believe this (I probably did at one point long ago), because they were brought up on bizarre Judeo-Christian ideas which involve elevating human thought to a supernatural status which cannot be replicated in a computer. It's entirely unscientific, but even many so-called "secular humanists" believe in mystical human exceptionalism. "We're nowhere close to understanding the brain", they claim, despite thousands of detailed textbooks and hundreds of thousands of articles on the brain and mind.

It's true that we're nowhere near to understanding all the microcircuitry of the brain, but we have to distinguish between functionally relevant cognitive complexity and incidental cognitive complexity. Most of the complexity in a bird is incidental to the bird, not fundamentally necessary for flight. It may be possible to create AGI without understanding much about the human brain at all.

Filed under: AI 3 Comments

Transhumanism is Still Winning

One of the most popular memes I generated in 2010 was the "transhumanism has already won" meme. Surprisingly, the phrase returns 1,570 results on Google.

Filed under: transhumanism 34 Comments

Comprehensive Nanorobotic Control of Human Morbidity and Aging

Robert Freitas' book chapter for The Future of Aging compilation is now online. It looks very interesting. Freitas always produces fantastic work, that's one of the reasons Kurzweil constantly cites him. Here's the abstract:

Nanotechnology involves the engineering of molecularly precise structures and molecular machines, and nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology to medicine, including the development of medical nanorobotics. Theoretical designs for diamondoid nanomachinery such as bearings, gears, motors, pumps, sensors, manipulators and even molecular computers already exist. Technologies required for the molecularly precise fabrication of diamondoid mechanical components and medical nanorobots, along with feasible strategies for the mass production of these devices, are the focus of active current research. This chapter describes a comprehensive solution to human morbidity and aging which will be attained when mankind has established control over all critical molecular events in the human body through the use of medical nanorobotics. Medical nanorobots can provide targeted treatments to individual organs, tissues, cells and even intracellular components, and can intervene in biological processes at the molecular level under direct supervision of the physician. Programmable micron-scale robotic devices will make possible comprehensive cures for human disease, the reversal of physical trauma, and individual cell repair. This leads to the complete control of human aging via nanomedically engineered negligible senescence (NENS) coupled with nanorobot-mediated rejuvenation that should extend the human healthspan at least tenfold beyond its current maximum length. The nanomedical solution is the final step in the roadmap to the control of human aging.

Continue. I talked to Freitas about this work, and he said, "It's a major piece of work -- a current update and the most comprehensive summary so far of the many potential applications of advanced diamondoid medical nanorobotics to conventional and anti-aging medicine."