May 7, 2013

Is It Humanity's Fate To Be The 'Mitochondria' of Super-Intelligent AIs?


 Singularity
According to microbiologist and science fiction author, Joan Slonczweski, humanity's future might be similar to that of the mitochondria. Mitochondria were once independent organisms, but at some point, an ancestral cell absorbed and incorporated them and over evolutionary history, mitochondria let cells gradually take over all the functions they used to perform.






In a recent article on Live Science, Tia Ghose examined some possibilities of what the Singularity will bring.

Many scientists think we are already in the middle of the Singularity.

Humans have already given up many intelligent tasks, such as the ability to write, navigate, memorize facts or do calculations, says Joan Slonczewski, a microbiologist at Kenyon College and the author of the hard science-fiction book, The Highest Frontier.

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Since Gutenberg invented the printing press, humans have continuously redefined intelligence and transferred those tasks to machines. Now, even tasks considered at the core of humanity, such as caring for the elderly or the sick, are being outsourced to empathetic robots, Soneszewski said.

"The question is, could we evolve ourselves out of existence, being gradually replaced by the machines?" Slonczewski said. "I think that's an open question."

In fact, the future of humanity may be similar to that of mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of cells. Mitochondria were once independent organisms, but at some point, an ancestral cell engulfed those primitive bacteria, and over evolutionary history, mitochondria let cells gradually take over all the functions they used to perform, until they only produced energy.

Global Brain

"We're becoming like the mitochondria. We provide the energy — we turn on the machines," Slonczewski told LiveScience. "But increasingly, they do everything else."

Slonczweski's Mitochondrial Singularity hypothesis asks, "Suppose we’re becoming the mitochondria of our machines."
Long ago, since Adam and Eve put on clothes (arguably the first technology) we have manipulated parts of our environment to do things our bodies now don’t have to do (like grow thick fur). We invented writing, printing and computers to store our memories. Most of us can no longer recall a seven-digit number long enough to punch it into a phone. Now we invent computers to beat us at chess and Jeopardy, and baby-seal robots to treat hospital patients.

With recent research developments, we are getting closer and closer to computers that will be imbedded in our bodies, some even at the nanoscale floating in our blood and brains.  Are these computers destined to become the tails that wag the dog, and take-over our bodies from the inside out, or will the process be one of mutual benefit?

The outcome is likely to be one of may possibilities for the future, where genetics, nanotechnology and robotics (GNR) converge and drastically change the post-human being.

It may well be that our present selves will be a piece of a greater whole.  An element with a memory of being human in an immortal construct spreading computation across the universe.

Slonczewski asks, "Mitochondria-hosting cells ushered in an extraordinary future of multicellular life forms, never possible before. Human-hosting machines may create an even more amazing future world. But if so, what essential contribution will remain human?"

In the future, will humans transcend their physical limitations with the aid of machines or will we relinquish most of our abilities and gradually become absorbed into artificial intelligence systems, or the global brain, much like the energy making machinery in our own cells?

SOURCE  Live Science

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