Tallinn looks like a nice guy and he dresses very well and I wish I had something intelligent to tell him. But actually it’s not a topic I know very much about. Then I thought, what better place to talk about a topic I know nothing about than my blog!
Let me first say I think the road to AI will be much longer than Tallinn believes. It’s not the artificial creation of something brain-like with as many synapses and neurons that’s the difficult part. The difficult part is creating something that runs as stable as the human body for a sufficiently long time to learn how the world works. In the end I believe we’ll go the way of enhancing human intelligence rather than creating new ones from scratch.
In any case, if you would indeed create an AI, you might think of making humans indispensible for their existence, maybe like bacteria are for humans. If they’re intelligent enough, they’ll sooner or later find a way to get rid of us, but at least it’ll buy you time. You might achieve that for example by never building any AI with their own sensory and motor equipment, but make them dependent on the human body for that. You could do that by implanting your AI into the, still functional, body of braindead people. That would get you in a situation though where the AIs would regard humans, though indispensable, as something to grow and harvest for their own needs. Ie, once you’re adult and have reproduced, they’ll take out your brain and move in. Well, it kind of does solve the problem in the sense that it avoids the extinction of the human species, but I’m not sure that’s a rosy future for humanity either.
I don’t think that an intelligent species will be inherently evil and just remove us from the planet. Look, even we try to avoid the extinction of species on the planet. Yes, we do grow and eat other animals but that I think is a temporary phase. It is arguably not a very efficient use of resources and I think meat will be replaced sooner or later with something factory-made. You don’t need to be very intelligent to understand that life is precious. You don’t destroy it without a reason because it takes time and resources to create. The way you destroy it is with negligence or call it stupidity. So if you want to survive your AI you better make them really intelligent.
Ok, I’m not taking this very seriously. Thing is, I don’t really understand why I should be bothered about the extinction of humans if there’s some more intelligent species taking over. Clearly, I don’t want anybody to suffer in the transition and I do hope the AI will preserve elements of human culture. But that I believe is what an intelligent species would do anyway. If you don’t like the steepness of the transition and want more continuous predecessors of humans, then you might want to go the way I’ve mentioned above, the way of enhancing the human body rather than starting from scratch. Sooner or later genetic modifications of humans will take place anyway, legal or not.
In the end, it comes down to the question what you mean by “artificial.” You could argue that since humans are part of nature, nothing human made is more “artificial” than, say, a honeycomb. So I would suggest then instead of creating an artificial intelligence, let’s go for natural intelligence.