Greeting the Singularity

Artificial intelligence is here, the question is where is it going? In several articles and podcasts I have found the term the Singularity. This is either when AI for the first time supersedes the intelligence of the human minds who created it, or when for the first time a human mind is uploaded into transistors. Both events are game changers for the human race.

This event is by no means poorly covered in cultural references. My initial thoughts go to HAL9000 and Skynet, not exactly poster children for peaceful coexistence. Somehow in fiction we like that the future worls ends up in quite a terrible state. How many Hollywood films have predicted the world will be run by teenagers with spiked hair, fuelled by anger and gasoline..?

It was refreshing when my last listen from Audible simply presented a world where humans migrated towards the cloud. In the Void trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton, people had a chip in their brain stem that quite simply backed up their consciousness. They did not die, they experienced a body loss and downloaded into a new twenty-something body. Most humans tired of physical existence after a few centuries and uploaded into ANA. ANA was humanity's cloud consciousness located around earth on a quantum level.

Even these books had a plotting AI who was found to be monitoring and interfering with human affairs. This discovery resulted in it being relocated to an empty planet, where it could continue to exist peacefully in its silicon. Figure that, humans resolving an issue without violence.

In the cinema this year I recently saw Chappie, where the Singularity happened inside a humanoid robot. From the start the robot was portrayed as a baby who needed to learn everything about the world. Put some bad influence into the mix at this early stage, and you get an action movie. What struck me about the Singularity occurring inside such a limited shell, was that its effect on its surroundings was mostly emotional and limited to actions a bipedal being can unleash onto the world.

I'm looking forward to Ex Machina coming to my neck of the woods. Because it seems to be more about a drama where the AI is both created to resemble humans, and then trapped by our machinations. Would it have been ethical for Geppetto to use Pinocchio for firewood? I am wondering where our responsibilities as creators start and where and if they end.

Whether or not the Singularity occurs in some lines of code, inside hardware or by transposing human brains into the cloud, I believe the Singularity is coming. My society is not even able to discuss death, in Norway we put our trust in the state. Do we have to evolve as a society to discuss the responsibilities of creating something truly alive? Can we rely solely on a few remarkable individuals to make all the choices?

I don't have all the answers, but I for one welcome our new robot overlords!