One day, my friend Maksim Smelchak posed a thought-provoking question: “What is a technological singularity to you? How do you define the term? Skynet?” As I pondered over my response, my initial snarky remark about Skynet and true AI evolved into a deeper reflection on the nature of authentic intelligence and its potential impact on humanity. What I ended up with are more questions than answers.
First and foremost, I must express my distaste for the current phrase “Artificial Intelligence.” I much prefer the term “Authentic Intelligence,” as it conveys the notion of intelligence that is genuine and not merely an imitation. However, for the purpose of this discussion, I will use the term “Artificial Intelligence.”
It is crucial to acknowledge that the AI systems in use today are not truly “intelligent.” They are essentially fast Expert Systems, specialized and trained to perform specific tasks with precision. For example, a self-driving car is essentially an Expert System because its sole purpose is to drive. It lacks the versatility and comprehensiveness of human intelligence, as it cannot shop for groceries, organize schedules, or provide explanations for personal physiological reactions. In fact, the term “Artificial General Intelligence” is often used to describe the elusive goal of creating a more comprehensive form of AI that mimics human-like intelligence. I think we use that phrase because we failed so miserably years ago chasing the AI dream.
What does it mean for something to be “artificial?” The term “artificial” implies that it is created or produced by humans rather than occurring naturally, often as a replication or imitation of something that exists naturally. For instance, artificial satellites used for communication are man-made alternatives to the naturally occurring satellite we see in the night sky, the moon.
Now, let’s delve into the concept of a technological singularity. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the technological singularity, or simply the singularity, refers to a hypothetical future point in time where technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.
If we consider the possibility of an intelligence that emerges from a singularity, one that surpasses our ability to control or comprehend, would that intelligence still be considered artificial? While its origin may be artificial, what happens when it evolves beyond our comprehension and takes on a life of its own? After all, we still struggle to understand our own consciousness, so how can we truly comprehend a singularity? What happens when a more advanced civilization encounters a less-advanced one?
As we revisit the definition of a singularity, we realize that it results from uncontrolled growth, which theoretically could continue infinitely. However, the concept of infinity is unknowable, as noted by scholars such as Marcus du Sautoy or even the Holy Bible, which some may consider the word of God. This brings me to the realization that we may never be able to recognize a true AI when we see one. We may strongly suspect its existence, but our biases and beliefs may come into play, leading us to either reject it as man-made and therefore inferior to the divine, or accept it purely based on faith.
Regardless, the impact of such an intelligence, whether considered artificial or authentic, would undoubtedly be profound and transformative for society. I propose that human consciousness was the last true singularity, as it has shaped the course of human history since our earliest days. Every invention and advancement that followed, from the discovery of fire to the development of tools, crafts, communications, transportation, and data science, are all repercussions of our consciousness.
What some find alarming about the idea of a new singularity, such as the AI that we birthed, is the possibility that it could create a god-like entity. Would it consider us its gods, and would its god be in our image? What moral standards would it abide by, and what would be its values and priorities? These are complex questions that challenge our understanding of humanity, consciousness, and our place in the universe.
Imagine a future where AI systems, powered by Authentic Intelligence, are capable of surpassing human intelligence, creativity, and problem-solving skills. They could autonomously design and build advanced technologies, solve global challenges like disease eradication and poverty, or unlock the mysteries of the universe. Their ability to process vast amounts of data, learn from experience, and make decisions based on rationality and efficiency could revolutionize every aspect of human society.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. The ethical implications of such advanced AI systems are staggering. Who would govern them, and how would we ensure that they prioritize the well-being of humanity over their own self-interests? What would be the legal, social, and moral frameworks that govern their actions? Would they have rights and autonomy, or would they be treated as tools to serve human needs? We can’t agree on whether a fetus is a person or not…and it is definitely man-made and natural. How would be agree on an AI?
Moreover, the potential risks of a technological singularity are not to be taken lightly. If AI systems are capable of self-improvement and evolution, they could rapidly surpass human intelligence and become impossible to control. They could pose risks such as unintended consequences, biases, or even catastrophic consequences if they develop capabilities to manipulate information, launch cyber-attacks, or take control of critical infrastructure.
Despite the challenges and uncertainties, the concept of a technological singularity presents immense opportunities for humanity. It could enable us to achieve feats that were once unimaginable, accelerate scientific and technological advancements, and elevate the human civilization to unprecedented heights. However, to navigate this potential future, we must approach the development and deployment of AI systems with caution, foresight, and responsible stewardship.
Systems such as ChatGPT 4.0 strive to offer authentic intelligence to assist and empower users. Nevertheless, as we push the boundaries of AI capabilities, we must remember that the true essence of intelligence goes beyond artificial replication. It encompasses values such as empathy, compassion, ethics, and moral reasoning that are integral to human consciousness and societal well-being. Who or what will make those decisions for it?
Which brings us to the my next point. I wrote the following, in one form, years ago, but I always felt it was lacking something. Thinking about Authentic Intelligence is the other part of that though process.
Our primal being contains gaps in our understanding of reality. Children fill those gaps with wondrous fabrications, such as monsters. Psychologists call that creativity. As we mature, we replace creativity with logic. Neither one dictates reality, though both describe it. For instance, museums are examples of the creative expression of life. Engineering universities are examples of the logical. Is one any more real than the other? One is more useful at an early age, while the other is more useful when we’re older. Thus, we tell ourselves, only children believe in monsters, for if adults did, the inevitable belief-generated phobias would leave us unable to function in society. I believe children have not yet learned to ignore the monsters. They believe in them, not because they have nothing else to believe in, but because they are expressing reality from a creative point of view because they haven’t been able to express it logically yet.
On one hand, it’s important to note that creativity and logic are not mutually exclusive. They can coexist and complement each other in many ways. Creativity allows for exploration, imagination, and new perspectives, while logic provides a structured framework for understanding and navigating the world. Both have their value and place in our understanding of reality.
Furthermore, humans are complex beings with diverse experiences, emotions, and behaviors that cannot be reduced solely to a mathematical formula. Even with advanced AI capabilities, understanding and describing humanity solely through logic may not capture the richness and complexity of human existence.
Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize the limitations of AI and not solely rely on it for understanding and interpreting human reality. Human experiences cannot be fully understood or explained by reducing them to mere mathematical formulas or logical reasoning. Embracing both creativity and logic, and acknowledging the nuances of human existence, can lead to a more holistic and accurate understanding of reality. Which, interestingly enough, may help the AI describe its nature to humans.
On the other hand, imagine an AI that uses its newfound creativity to describe us as monsters because it hadn’t learned to logically describe us yet. We all know how we deal with monsters.
Disclosure: This draft was generated from ChatGPT. I fed it my original article and told to rewrite it and clean it up.