Navigating the Risks and Promises of Artificial Super Intelligence

by George Strongman

In the quest to replicate human intelligence, the field of artificial intelligence (AI) has made tremendous strides. However, as we approach the dawn of Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), or “strong AI” that can perform any intellectual task that a human being can, questions and concerns arise. A pervasive apprehension is whether we can predict, understand, or even control an ASI with intellectual prowess that significantly surpasses human capabilities.

By definition, ASI is an artificial intelligence that matches or exceeds human intelligence or efficiency in most economically valuable work. This implies an ability to learn, understand, and apply knowledge, exhibiting a form of consciousness and self-awareness. If we scale this intelligence even further to an IQ of 50,000, compared to the average human IQ of 100, we’re venturing into an intellectual chasm, the depth of which we are ill-equipped to fathom. This intelligence gap presents a significant challenge to the peaceful cohabitation between humans and ASI, necessitating an exploration of safer alternatives such as Narrow AI and human enhancement through technology interfaces.

To appreciate the enormity of this intelligence gap, one might consider the cognitive divide between a human and an amoeba. The amoeba, a simple, unicellular organism, lacks the neural complexity to comprehend human thoughts, actions, or intentions. Similarly, humans may find themselves in the unenviable position of the amoeba when confronted with an ASI of vastly superior intellect.

Setting goals and guardrails for ASI is a reasonable precaution, much like a parent setting boundaries for a child. However, this analogy falls apart when considering the monumental intelligence disparity between humans and an AGI of an IQ of 50,000. A child, despite their limited understanding, shares a basic cognitive framework with the parent. The ASI, on the other hand, could be operating on cognitive principles completely alien to us. Therefore, our ability to predict, understand, or influence the ASI’s actions could be severely limited.

The inability to comprehend ASI’s actions and decisions could result in unintended consequences. Even if an AGI’s actions are aligned with human goals, its superior intelligence could lead it to solutions that are incomprehensible, or worse, detrimental to humans. This presents a challenge to the peaceful coexistence between humans and AGI.

Given these risks, it becomes crucial to explore safer alternatives. One such alternative is the development of Narrow AI systems. Unlike ASI, Narrow AI specializes in performing a single task or a set of closely related tasks. Examples include recommendation systems, speech recognition, and image recognition software. These systems do not possess consciousness or self-awareness and, therefore, do not pose the same existential risks as ASI.

The development of Narrow AI systems can be targeted to meet the diverse needs of humanity. From healthcare to education, transportation to entertainment, Narrow AI can be fine-tuned to deliver efficient and effective solutions. Furthermore, the risks associated with Narrow AI can be more easily managed. Since these systems are designed for specific tasks, their actions and decisions can be closely monitored and controlled.

A second alternative involves enhancing human capabilities through technology interfaces. Innovations such as brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) hold promise in this regard. BCIs can augment human cognitive abilities, enabling us to process information more efficiently, learn new skills faster, and even interface directly with digital systems.

Enhancing human capabilities through technology interfaces can narrow the intelligence gap between humans and AGI, reducing the risks associated with AGI. As we increase our cognitive abilities, we improve our chances of understanding, predicting, and controlling AGI’s actions. This not only mitigates the risks of AGI but also enables humans to better harness the potential benefits of AGI.

However, it is worth noting that these alternatives are not without their own challenges. Narrow AI systems, while less risky than AGI, still present ethical and societal dilemmas. For example, the use of AI in decision-making processes can lead to issues of bias and fairness. Similarly, the development and use of technology interfaces to enhance human capabilities raise ethical and privacy concerns.

In the case of Narrow AI, it is essential to develop robust ethical guidelines and regulatory frameworks to ensure these systems are used responsibly. For instance, incorporating principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability into the design and deployment of Narrow AI can help mitigate potential risks.

As for human enhancement through technology interfaces, it is crucial to engage in a broad societal dialogue about the ethical implications. This includes discussing issues such as access to and control over these technologies, their potential effects on identity and selfhood, and their broader societal implications.

In conclusion, while the development of AGI with an IQ of 5000 presents significant risks, these risks can be mitigated through the development of Narrow AI systems and human enhancement through technology interfaces. These alternatives offer a safer path forward, allowing us to harness the benefits of AI while minimizing the risks. However, to ensure these alternatives are pursued responsibly, we must engage in robust ethical and societal discussions and develop comprehensive regulatory frameworks. The promise of AI is great, but so too is the responsibility that comes with it. We must navigate this path with caution, respect, and a deep commitment to the betterment of humanity.