Arquivo da tag: Artificial Intelligence

Altruistic Awesomeness, Your Challenge

So you woke up in this universe, containing not only yourself, but a planet in which you live, a few billion galaxies, religious grandmothers, cookies, weekends and downloadable series which you can watch any time. Eventually you noticed people are way more intentional than cookies, people always want something. Everyone told you, also, that you happen to be a person.

Then you asked the obvious question:  ¿What do I want?

Let us assume you are a very intelligent person (we know you are ¿right?)

Not just that, you have a deep grasp on biological evolution, and what life is.

You understand intelligence better than average, and you know the difference between a soul and an evolutionarily designed gadget whose function is tangential to being an optimization program which optimizes for some rough guidelines brought forth by genes and memes in a silent purposeless universe.

You know human thinking works mainly through analogies, and that the best way to explain how the mind works involves some way of dividing what it does into simpler steps that can be accomplished by less intelligent systems. That is, you realize the explanation of intelligence amounts to explaining it without using “intelligence” as part of your explanation.

You know that only a fool would think emotions are opposite to reason, and that our emotions are engineered by evolution to work in a fluid and peaceful coalition with reason, not only as best friends, but as a symbiotic system.

You have perused through the underlying laws of physics, and not only you found out schröedinger’s equation, but you understood that it implies a counter-intuitive series of things, such as: There are many-worlds splitting all the time into even more worlds, and I am splitting just like everything within this model. In fact, there is a tree of greater and greater amounts of branches, so I can always trace my self back, but there are too many selves forward. You wonder if you are all of them, or just one, and which.

Everett branches of a person, splitting into the future

You basically have intelligence enough (which probably would correlate with some nice IQ measurement, on the 125+ range…. but NEVER worry about IQ, that number is just a symbol to remind you that you are smarter than most of your teachers, your village elders, etc… and give you motivation to actually DO the stuff you’ve been considering doing all this time, IQ is, basically, a symbolic statement that you can disrespect authority)

Then you thought: Wow, it turns out I feel very good being Nice to other people. I am a natural altruist.

How can I put my intelligence to work for a better world, without being sucked into the void of EVIL-DARKNESS [your choiche of master-evil here, be it capitalism, common sense, politics, religion, stupidity, non-utilitarian charity etc…]

Since you grasp evolution, you do know that there is no ultimate-morality. There is no one great principle, just in the same way as there is no one great god.

On the other hand, it seems that happiness is great, and the best parts of life, both for you, and for your friends, are those parts which are Awesome, amazing, fantastic, delicious, unbearably happy, unimaginably joyful. This of course, opposed to those parts which are miserable, unfortunate, sad, ennui, so awful you want to cry.

So you decided you want to have a life that is 1) Awesome 2) Altruistic.

Now, you ask the second question:

¿What should I do?

Then all your intelligence was put to work on that, and you started finding out what the other Awesome Altruists were doing lately. You stopped reading Vogue and Newspapers, and read about people who loved mankind and tried to do stuff. Ghandi, Mandela, Russell, Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie, Frederic II, Nick Bostrom, Bono, Bentham, Eliezer Yudkowsky, Bakunin, Ettinger, Mother Theresa, Marx, among a  few others.

“Let us understand, once and for all, that the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from it, but in combating it.”
— T. H. Huxley (“Darwin’s bulldog”, early advocate of evolutionary theory)

You have started to analyse their actions counterfactually. You learned that the right question, to figure out what really matters is: ¿What is the difference between our world in which X did what he did, and our world in case X had not done that?

You noticed people have a blind spot relating to this question, and they always forget to ask “¿Would someone else have done that, had X not done that?” and you have stored a special cozy place in your brain that cintilates a huge neon sign saying “If YES, then X work does not make a difference” every time you ponder the issue.

So you noticed how the most important altruistic acts are not just those that have greater impact, and stronger effect. You realized that the fewer people are working on something of impact and effect, the more difference each one makes. There is no point in doing what will be done by others anyway, so what should be done is that which, if you did not do it, would not get done at all.

Applying this reasoning, you have excluded most of your awesome altruists of people it would be great to be like.

Some remain. You notice that from those, it turns out they are all either very powerful (moneywise) or tranhumanists. You begin to think about that…..

¿Why is it, you ask, that everyone who stands a chance of creating a much much better universe is concerned with these topics?

1) Promoting the enhancement and improvement of the human condition through use of technology

2) Reducing the odds of catastrophic events that could destroy the lives of, say, more than 50 million people at once.

3) Creating a world through extended use of technology in which some of our big unsolved problems do not exist anymore. (Ageing, unhappiness, depression, akrasia, ennui, suffering, idiocy, starvation, disease, impossibility of creating a back up of one self in case of car crash, not having a very, very delicious life, bureocracy and Death, to name a few problems)

It is now that you begin to realize that just like science is common sense, applied over and over again at itself, Just like science is iterated common sense, transhumanism is iterated altruistic awesomeness.

Sometimes, something that comes from science seems absurd for our savannah minds (splitting quantum worlds, remote controllable beetles, mindless algorithms that create mindful creatures). But then you realize that if you take everything you grasp as common sense, and apply common sense once again to it, you will get a few thing that look a little bit less commonsensical than the first ones. Then you do it again, a little more. And another time. All the steps take you only a little bit further away from what your savannah mind takes as obvious. But 100 steps later, we are talking about all the light coming from a huge exploding ball of helium very far away which disturbs space in predictable ways and that we perceive as sunlight. We call this iterated common sense Science, for short.

Now ¿what if you are a nice person, and you enjoy knowing that your action made a difference? Then you start measuring it. It seems intuitive at first that some actions will be good, saying the truth, for instance. But in further iterations, when you apply the same principles again, you find exceptions like “you are fat”. As you go through a few iterations, you notice the same emotional reaction you felt when common sense was slipping away while you learned science. You start noticing that giving for beggars is worse than for organized institutions, and that your voting does not change who is elected, you notice education pays off in long term, and you understand why states are banishing tobacco everywhere. You realize the classic “prevention is the best remedy”. Here is the point where you became a humanist. Congratulations! Very Few have gotten through here.

It turns out, though, that you happen to know science. So there are more steps to take. You notice that we are in one of the most important centuries of evolution’s course, because memes are overtaking genes, and we just found out about computers, and the size of the universe. We are aware of how diseases are transmitted, and we can take people’s bodies to the moon, and minds throughout most of the earth surface, and some other planets and galaxies. So you figure once we merge with technology, the outcome will be huge. You notice it will probably be in the time of your life, wheter you like it or not.

It will be so huge in fact, that there is probably nothing that you can do, in any other area whatsoever, that stands an awesome altruistic chance against increasing the probability that we will end up in a Nice Place to Live, and will not end up in “Terrible Distopian Scenario Number 33983783, the one in which we fail to realize that curing cancer was only worth it if it was not necessary to destroy the earth to calculate the necessary computations to perform the cure”.

Dawkins points out that there are many more ways of being dead than alive. There are more designs of unsustainable animals. Yudkwosky points out there are many more ways of failing in our quest to find a Nice Place to Live. Design space is huge, and the Distopian space is much greater than the Utopian Space. Also, they are not complementary.

So you kept your Altruistic Awesomeness reasoning with your great intelligence. Guess what, you found out that other people who do that call themselves “transhumanists”, and that they are working to either avoid global catastrophic risks, or to create a world of cognition, pleasure, and sublime amazement beyond what is currently conceivable to any earthling form.

You also found out there are so few of these people. This gave you a mixed feeling.

On the one hand, you felt a little bit worried, because no one in your tribe of friends, acquaintances, and authorities respects this kind of thinking. They want to preserve tradition, their salaries, one or another political view, the welfare state, teen-tribal values,  status quo, ecology, their grades, socialist ideals, or something to that effect. So you were worried because you identified yourself as something that is different from most who you know, and that not necessarily holds the promise of gaining status among your peers because of your ideals, which relate to the greater good of all humans and sentient life, present and future, including themselves, who simply have no clue what the hell are you talking about, and are beggining to find you a bit odd.

On the other hand, when you found out that there are few, you felt like the second shoes salesman, who went to an underdeveloped land and sent a message for the king after his friend, the first salesman, had sent another, from the northern areas of the land.

First Salesman: Situation Hopeless, they don’t wear any shoes…

Second Salesman: Glorious Opportunity, they don’t have any shoes yet!

It took you a long time, to learn all this science, and to deeply grasp morality. You have crossed through dark abysses of the human mind under which many of our greatest have failed. Yet, you made through, and your Altruistic Awesomeness was iterated, again and again, unappalled by the daunting tasks required of those who want to truly do good, as opposed to just pretending. The mere memory of all the process makes you chill. Now, with hindsight, you can look back and realize it was worth it, and that the path that lies ahead is paved, unlike hell, not with good intentions, but with good actions. It is now time to realize that if you have made it through this step, if all your memes cohered into a transhumanist self, then congratulations once again, for you are effectively part of the people on whom the fate of everything which we value lies. ¿Glorious opportunity, isn’t it?

Now take a deep breath. Insuflate the air. Think about how much all this matters, how serious it is. How awesome it it. Feel how altruistic you truly are, from the bottom of your heart. How lucky of you to be at one time so smart, so genuinely nice, and lucky to be born at a time where people who are like you are so few, but so few, that what you personally choose to do will make a huge difference. It is not only glorious opportunity, it is worth remarking as one of life’s most precious gifts. This feeling is disorienting and incandescent at the same time, but for now it must be put in a safe haven. Get back to the ground, watch your steps, breathe normally again and let us take a look at what is ahead of you.

From this day on, what matters is where you direct your efforts. ¿How are you going to guarantee a safer and plentier future for everyone? ¿Have you checked out what other people are doing? ¿Have you considered which human values do you want to preserve? ¿Are you aware of Nick Bostrom who is guiding the Future of Humanity institute at Oxford towards a deep awareness of our path ahead, and who has co-edited a book on global catastrophic risks? ¿Do you know that Eliezer Yudkowsky figured it all out at age 16 after abandoning high-school, and has been developing a friendly form of artificial intelligence, and trying to stop anyone from making the classic mistakes of assuming that a machine would behave or think as a human being would? ¿Did you already find out that Aubrey de Grey is dedicating his life to create an institution whose main goal is to end the madness of ageing, and has collected millions for a prize in case someone stops a mouse from ageing?

The issues that face us are not trivial. It is very dangerous to think that just because you know this stuff, you are already doing something useful. Beware of things that are too much fun to argue. There is actual work that needs to be done, and on this work may lie the avoidance of cataclysm, the stymie of nanotechnological destruction. The same line of work holds the promise of a world so bright that it is as conceivable to us as ours is to shrimp. A pleasure so high that the deepest shining emotions a known drug can induce are to deppressed orfan loneliness as one second of this future mental state is to a month of known drugs paradisiac peaks. To think about it won’t cut it. To talk about it won’t cut it. There is only one thing that will cut it. Work. Loads of careful, conscious, extremely intelligent, precise, awesomely altruistic, and deeply rewarding work.

There are two responsible things to be done. One, which this post is all about, is divulgating, showing the smart altruistic awesome people around that there are actual things that can be done, should be done, are decisive on a massive level, and are not overdetermined by someone else’s actions with the same effects.

The other is actually devising utopia. This has many sides to it. No skilled smart person is below threshold. No desiring altruistic awesome fellow is not required. Everyone should be trying. Coordination is crucial. To increase probability of utopia, either you decrease probability of distopia, cleaning the future space available of terrible places to live, or you accelerate and increase odds of getting to a Nice Place to Live. Even if you know everything I’ve been talking about until here, to give you a good description of what devising utopia amounts to, feels like, and intends, would take about two books, a couple dozen equations, some graphs, and at least some algorithms… (here are some links which you can take a look at after finishing this reading)

This post is centralizing. If you have arrived to this spot, and you tend to see yourself as someone who agrees with one third of what is here, you may be an awesome intelligence floating around alone, which, if connected to a system, would become an altruistic engine of powers beyond your current imagination.

I’m developing transhumanism in Latin America. No, I’m not the only one. And no, transhumanism has no borders.

Regardless, I’ll be getting any work offerings (¿got time? ¿got money? ¿Got enthusiasm? send it along) in case someone feels like it. I’ll also advise (as opposed to co-work) any newcomers who are lone riders. Lone wolfs, and people who do not like working along with others in any case.

Here, have my e-mail: diegocaleiro atsymbol gmail dotsymbol com

There is a final qualification that must be done to the “¿got time?” question. Seriously, if you are an altruist, and you are smart as we both know you are. ¿What could possibly be more worth your time than the one thing that will make you counterfactually more likely to be part of those who ended up the misery of darwinian psychological tyranny, and helped inaugurate the era of everlasting quasi-immortal happiness and vast fast aghasting intelligence which defies any conception of paradise?

If you do have a proper, more than five-lined intelligent response to the above question, please, do send it to my e-mail. After all, there is no point at which I’ll be completely convinced I arrived at the best answer. I’ve only researched for 8 years on the “¿what to do?” question. To think I did arrive at the best possible answer would be to commit the Best Impossible Fallacy, and I’m past this trivial kind of mistake.

Otherwise, in case you still agree with us two hundred that transhumanism is the most moral answer to the “¿What Should I do?” question….Then —> Please send me your wishes, profile, expertise, curriculum, or just how much time do you have to dedicate to it. This post is a centralizer. I’m trying to bring the effort together, for now you know. There are others like yourself out there. We have thought up a lot about how to make a better world, and we are now working hard towards it. We need your help. The worst that could happen to you is losing a few hours with us and then figuring out that in your conception, there are actually other things which compose a better meta-level iteration of your Altruistic Awesomeness. But don’t worry, it will not happen.

Here, have my e-mail: diegocaleiro atsymbol gmail dotsymbol com

Two others have joined already. (EDIT: After Writing this text there are already six of us already) The only required skill is intelligence (and I’m not talking about the thing IQ tests measure), being a fourteen year old is a plus, not an onus. As is having published dozens of articles on artifical intelligence. Dear Altruistic Awesome, the future is yours.

But it is only yours if you actually go there and do it.

Is there anything special about conciousness? Concerns about our posthuman future

Most of the atheists, most of the tranhumanists, extropians and neuroscientists would agree that no, there is nothing special about it.But I think it is time to take a carefull look at what do these people mean exactly with this no.

First of all, we must consider what does the word “special” mean in this sentence. Certainly among the “special” things would be souls, spirits, and all the metaphisical friends some people beleive they still carry inside them. And it is obvious that these inventions are not what I’m writing about here. My problem with the “there is nothing special about consciousness” phrase is not what the special includes, but what it does not.

None of us has a spirit. And whatever is responsible for consciousness and all its processes is necessarily in our material brains, not in an invented world. Yet there is still no final conclusion about what exactly in the matter that composes our brain is responsible for being conscious. Certainly the neurons and their electrical structure are involved on it. But there is no one who has said “ our consciousness is the calcium passing”, “our consciousness is the eletrons that move between the neurons” or “our consciousness is the electrical activity within the axon” and comproved it in a irrefutable sense.

Although this has not been done, it is fair to say that we know that consciousness is a property of matter. What we call consciousness is necessarily a property of a specific agregation of matter that happens in our brain. Just like flexibility or capacity to conduce electricity, consciousness depends on how matter is rearranged, and therefore may be called a property of matter.

We know with much certainty what are many of the properties of matter due to. Being solid, or being flexible are properties that we know from what they come from, and therefore we are able, at least theoretically to reproduce this property in another set amount of matter. We can make thousands of flexible pencils, because we have knowledge enough to change matter in a way that it adquires the property “flexibility”.

We could, for instance, build flexible pencils with many kinds of material, since we know that it is possible to adquire flexibility not only with a specific material. Also we could achieve flexibility with different stuctures and the same material, since we know that it is not just one specific structure that has flexibility, but there are several structural rearranges that do so.

But the same does not happen to consciousness, we are not exactly sure what in matter has the property consciousness, and this is of extreme importance to the future development of Artificial Intelligence.

Now onwards, I will make suppositions, I do not claim any of this suppositions to be true, neither am I trying to defend one specifically, my only purpose with them is to show what are the consequences of these suppositions to the posthuman world if they were true.

Suppose, for instance, that consciousness is all about information, in this case, anything that processes information in the same way that conscious thins do would also have the property consciousness, and would therefore be conscious. In this case, we could build aritificial digital computers that are extremely powerfull, powerfull enough to do all the computations that our minds do, and these computers, even being extremely different from our brains, would still be consciouss, since the particular thing about matter that produces consciousness would be in them. That has been the supposition that part of the enthusiasts of transhumanism I’ve talked to have. But it seems to me a very dangerous supposition. To show in what sense is this supposition very dangerous I will begin showing a different supposition.

Suppose now that consciousness only emerges from higly parallel, analogic, information. Then any sistem ( biological or not) that can make massive parallel connections to transport information would also have the property of being conscious. So if we created computers with these given properties, they would be conscious, and there would be no problem, for instance, to upload yourself to one of these. But what if this suppositions is right, and we only build the computers that I have mentioned in the first supposition. The binary ones. Then we would have computers who can behave exactly as our minds do, but they are not conscious, they are only zombies. Suppose then that everyone on earth uploads himself to this binary computers, then we would have a fantastic posthuman society, with no one to see it. It would be simply a zombies society, none of the computers would be concious, and all our effort for a great posthuman world would have been wasted. Note that these machines, if were asked, would behave exactly like a human, so they would answer that they are conscious, they would act as if they have feelings. From “outside” they would be indistinguishable from us. And they certainly would pass the Turing test.

Now, we are most likely to only be able to achieve the behavior of a mind doing massive parallel analogic computers, so the dystopic scenario of this second supposition is quite improbable to happen. But I have only given these two first suppositions because they represent what most of the transhumanists already suppose, now I will show how there are other suppositions that, if proved to be true, will generate a dystopic scenario that as far as I’m concerned, no one has yet predicted or worried about.

The third supposition is that consiousness is a property of the Biological matter trat composes neurons, or of the electical activity in the neurons. In this case, none of our both computers in the above scenarios would have the property of being concious. And therefore we would have two possible dystopic scenarios, one of posthumanity with binary and other of posthumanity with analogical unconcious computers. But then, there is still a chance that the computers we develop have or the same sort of electrical patterns or are made of neurons, and in this case, we would have a pleasant conscious posthuman world.

The point I’m trying to make here is that no matter what of the suppositions (these or any of the millions of other) is right, there are some scenarios in which we have conscious posthumanity and scenarios were we have unconscious posthumanity.

We are producing posthumanity the wrong way. When we choose to produce flexible pencils, first we learn what assures flexibility to matter, then we reproduce matter in order to achieve flexible pencils. But with consciousness, we are going the wrong way. First we are trying to reproduce Intelligence ( which is a different property of matter than consciousness) and we are faithfully beleiving that as soon as we learn how to produce intelligent matter, we will also be producing concious matter. Intelligence, as most tranhumanists and computer analists think, is a behavior. Things may behave intelligently, in the sense that they make the complex associations that we call intelligent associations. But this does not mean they make this associations conciously, they may simply compute this associations, and they would not feel anything while doing it.

Intelligence and consciousness are two different properties of matter, and we should take extreme care with ourselves if we do not want to become a society that has no conscious beings on it. Producing intelligence is very important, including to understand consciousness, but being able to produce intelligent matter does not mean we are able do produce concious matter, and I beleive that the most important thing for the transhumanist thinkers and developers should be to run away from the easy two suppositions (that say that consciousness is only about information), and admit that, as long as we are not exactly sure of what in matter generates conciousness, it is very risky and even undesirable to transport your “self” to a different agregation of matter that the one we already know that is conscious, the neural networks, composed of biological neurons.

I am not saying that we should stay like we are today, I’m just saying that we should first understand what is exactly, without a doubt, what is responsible for consciousness in matter, and then reproduce it in order to create or upload sentients. I’m just trying to prevent what I beleive that would be one of the catastrophes we usually call “human extinction scenarios”.

It is, of course, possible that consciousness is indeed only a structural property, and therefore anything with the same structure as the brain would necessarily be concious, even if the electricity travelled faster, even if made by nanotubes or silicon. But we should not blindly and faithfully expent all our efforts in a supposition. We have already ultrapassed 4 Singularities, and I do not feel like we should waste all this time and probability by simply assuming a supposition is right. Bertrand Russell said that “religion is what we invent, Science is what we know, and phlosophy is what we don’t know” The problem of consciousness has been for hundreds of years a matter of philosophy and religion, finally it has started to make its way through science, but as long as we don’t have a very good theory about it, it is not worth it to waste billions of years of hard effort in our egoistic necessity of saying “I was one of the producers of the singularity”.

It is rather improbable, but the problem of consciousness may still take a while to be completely solved, and I beleive that it is worth the effort to lose some posthuman time in not becoming posthuman sooner than that.

The science of AC, Artificial consciousness will probably run much faster than AI, since the evolutive processes are growing exponencially. If we have waited for AI, It won’t be that bad to also wait for AC in order to finally achieve the condition we have been seeking for so long, the posthuman condition.

In a conversation with Bill Gates, Ray Kurzweil has said that we now need a new faith, and in this new faith, from the sciences and arts, we should inherit the respect for knowledge, and from the tradition of religions, we should inherit the respect for conciousness, it was in order to acomplish this second task that I have written this text, and I hope it achieves the eye-opening objective that I have developed for it.