In 2002, I wrote Broken Dreams, a guidebook for the Steve Jackson Games “Transhuman Space” role-playing game series. Broken Dreams covered global traumas such as conflict, social disorder, economic decline, and intellectual property. Part of the book concerned how various societies reacted to the big changes underway in the world, and in that section I included a brief description of a common response: Social Transition Stress Disorder, or STSD.
This week we speak with Ben Goertzel, an artificial intelligence researcher and Zen-dabbling spiritual seeker. Ben shares with us his introduction to Zen and his on-going relationship to spiritual practice. He also explains what is meant by “strong artificial intelligence” and AGI (artificial general intelligence) and explains why he thinks a fully functioning AI may be as little as a decade away.
Finally, we explore the overlap between his work as an AI researcher and his experiences with Zen and other spiritual practices, through discussing a story he wrote entitled, “Enlightenment 2.0” about an enlightened AI being who determines that it is possible to construct a more enlightened mind, what Ben calls a “super mind”, but isn’t sure whether or not it is possible for us.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Artificial Wisdom (airing next week).
At this blog, we often write about the ethical considerations of various issues. Sometimes, but less frequently, we’ll discuss cutting-edge transformative technologies, usually designated as Nano (advanced nanotechnology), Bio (genetic engineering and biotechnology), Info (information technology, including artificial intelligence), and Cogno (cognitive technology, including virtual reality). But since we are the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, it is important for us to do both—to connect our ethical concerns with projected technological developments.
Bioethicists might prefer to be seen as wise non-partisan sages, dispensing timeless wisdom. But now, albeit with great reluctance, they are forced to take an active role in the increasingly divided biopolitical landscape.
When it comes to other people’s views on controversial issues, they should be classified within a two-dimensional parameter space, not just on a single line of agree/disagree. The other dimension is the all-important sensible/crazy axis.
Intellectual property, like biopolitics, is not a simple left-right issue. There are arguments for and against patents on human genes, and patents in general, from both progressives and libertarians. Stephan Kinsella, for instance, is a libertarian critic of intellectual property.
Although it’s easy to think otherwise, the structure of the modern global economy is not terribly old, arguably dating back to the collapse of the gold standard in 1971, or the post-World War II “Bretton Woods” conference in 1944. Earlier versions of what we would nonetheless still call “capitalism” had very different degrees (and kinds) of government intervention, roles for labor and capital, even rules about currencies. Add to that the mention more extreme variants such as socialism and communism, corporatism (fascism), and the sundry experiments in anarchism, and you have quite a menagerie of all-but-extinct economic models.
Journalist and author T.R. Reid set out on a global tour of hospitals and doctors’ offices, all in the hopes of understanding how other industrialized nations provide affordable, effective universal health care. The result: his book The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.
Reid is a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post — in whose pages he recently addressed five major myths about other countries’ health-care systems — and the former chief of the paper’s London and Tokyo bureaus.
Reid was the lead correspondent for the 2008 Frontline documentary Sick Around the World, which examined five other capitalist democracies, looking for lessons on health-care delivery. His books include Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West and The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy.
Based on Maggie Mahar’s acclaimed book, Money Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much, the film offers a behind-the-scenes look at the $2.6 trillion U.S. healthcare system, how it went so terribly wrong and what it will take to fix it. The U.S. spends twice as much per person on healthcare as the average developed nation, one-sixth of our GDP, yet our outcomes often are worse.The problem is that much of that spending is wasteful – and provides no benefit to the patient.The reason? The U.S. is the only developed nation that has chosen to turn medicine into a largely unregulated, for-profit enterprise.
Bruce Sterling has lately raised this perennial issue, as did Mike Treder in an excellent piece suggesting that our initial attitudes toward such creatures may color the entire outcome of a purported “technological singularity.” Now I’d like to offer this rumination on giving rights to artificial intelligences.
Dr. J. chats with W. Brian Arthur about his book The Nature of Technology, which argues that technologies have a natural history - are composed of prior technologies - and are subject to natural selection. (MP3)
District 9 is one of those films that, when you examine it in pieces, it doesn’t seem that amazing. If you were to ask me about any specific piece of the film: the action, the cinematography, the effects, the acting, the writing, etc. I would say that it might fall in the “good” or “pretty good” category. As a whole, however, the film manages to constantly combine those “good” elements into great scenes and chains so many great scenes together that a truly wonderful and unique story results.
We must stop perpetuating the fiction that existence itself is dictated by the immutable laws of economics. These so-called laws are, in actuality, the economic mechanisms of 13th Century monarchs. Some of us analyzing digital culture and its impact on business must reveal economics as the artificial construction it really is. Although it may be subjected to the scientific method and mathematical scrutiny, it is not a natural science; it is game theory, with a set of underlying assumptions that have little to do with anything resembling genetics, neurology, evolution, or natural systems.
One of my first impressions after reading Bill Bainbridge’s 1981 essay “Religions for a Galactic Civilization” was that it was dated (well, it was written 26 years ago). I wrote: “If Bill were to write the same article today, he would probably mention NBIC technologies (nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive sciences) besides space travel and colonization. I hope he would give less space to Scientology, and I am sure he would discuss the works of transhumanist thinkers in great detail. I think the first sentence quoted below could be written, today, as “We need a new transhumanist social movement capable of giving a sense of transcendent purpose to dominant sectors of the society””. I asked Bill to write a revised and updated version of the paper, to be published (translated into Italian) in the print journal Divenire of the Italian Transhumanist Association and then discussed at the TransVision 2010 conference. A first draft of the revised and updated version has just been posted to the IEET blog.