Should-Read: Kevin Kelly: The Myth of a Superhuman AI: "'I’ve heard that in the future computerized AIs will become so much smarter than us that they will take all our jobs and resources, and humans will go extinct. Is this true?' That’s the most common question I get whenever I give a talk about AI...

...Buried in this scenario of a takeover of superhuman artificial intelligence are five assumptions which, when examined closely, are not based on any evidence. These claims might be true in the future, but there is no evidence to date to support them. The assumptions behind a superhuman intelligence arising soon are:

  1. Artificial intelligence is already getting smarter than us, at an exponential rate.
  2. We’ll make AIs into a general purpose intelligence, like our own.
  3. We can make human intelligence in silicon.
  4. Intelligence can be expanded without limit.
  5. Once we have exploding superintelligence it can solve most of our problems.

In contradistinction to this orthodoxy, I find the following five heresies to have more evidence to support them.

  1. Intelligence is not a single dimension, so “smarter than humans” is a meaningless concept.
  2. Humans do not have general purpose minds, and neither will AIs.
  3. Emulation of human thinking in other media will be constrained by cost.
  4. Dimensions of intelligence are not infinite.
  5. Intelligences are only one factor in progress.

If the expectation of a superhuman AI takeover is built on five key assumptions that have no basis in evidence, then this idea is more akin to a religious belief—a myth. In the following paragraphs I expand my evidence for each of these five counter-assumptions, and make the case that, indeed, a superhuman AI is a kind of myth....

We run on ecosystems of thinking. We contain multiple species of cognition that do many types of thinking: deduction, induction, symbolic reasoning, emotional intelligence, spacial logic, short-term memory, and long-term memory. The entire nervous system in our gut is also a type of brain with its own mode of cognition. We don’t really think with just our brain; rather, we think with our whole bodies. These suites of cognition vary between individuals and between species. A squirrel can remember the exact location of several thousand acorns for years.... That superpower is bundled with some other modes that are dim compared to ours in order to produce a squirrel mind....

Likewise in AI. Artificial minds already exceed humans in certain dimensions. Your calculator is a genius in math; Google’s memory is already beyond our own in a certain dimension. We are engineering AIs to excel in specific modes. Some of these modes are things we can do, but they can do better, such as probability or math. Others are type of thinking we can’t do at all—memorize every single word on six billion web pages, a feat any search engine can do. In the future, we will invent whole new modes of cognition that don’t exist in us and don’t exist anywhere in biology.... In many cases they will be new, narrow, “small,” specific modes for specific jobs—perhaps a type of reasoning only useful in statistics and probability. In other cases the new mind will be complex types of cognition that we can use to solve problems our intelligence alone cannot.... At the same time we will integrate these various modes of cognition into more complicated, complex societies of mind....

Thinking differently from humans is AI’s chief asset. This is yet another reason why calling it “smarter than humans” is misleading and misguided....

I understand the beautiful attraction of a superhuman AI god. It’s like a new Superman. But like Superman, it is a mythical figure. Somewhere in the universe a Superman might exist, but he is very unlikely. However myths can be useful, and once invented they won’t go away. The idea of a Superman will never die. The idea of a superhuman AI Singularity, now that it has been birthed, will never go away either. But we should recognize that it is a religious idea at this moment and not a scientific one. If we inspect the evidence we have so far about intelligence, artificial and natural, we can only conclude that our speculations about a mythical superhuman AI god are just that: myths....

Yet non-superhuman artificial intelligence is already here, for real.... In the wider sense of... a continuous spectrum of various smartness, intelligences, cognition, reasonings, learning... AI is already pervasive on this planet and will continue to spread, deepen, diversify, and amplify. No invention before will match its power to change our world, and by century’s end AI will touch and remake everything in our lives. Still the myth of a superhuman AI, poised to either gift us super-abundance or smite us into super-slavery (or both), will probably remain alive—a possibility too mythical to dismiss...

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