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August 12, 2013

Our Final Invention




 
Artificial Intelligence
James Barrat's new book, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own?




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rtificial Intelligence helps choose what books you buy, what movies you see, and even who you date. It puts the “smart” in your smartphone, it has the run of your house, and soon it will drive your car. It makes most of the trades on Wall Street, and controls vital energy, water, and transportation infrastructure. But Artificial Intelligence can also threaten our existence.

Though primitive today, AI cognitive systems double in speed and power each year. In as little as a decade, AI could match and then surpass human intelligence. Corporations and government agencies are pouring billions into achieving AI’s Holy Grail—human-level intelligence. Once AI has attained it, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own. We may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful, and more alien than we can imagine.

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Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, James Barrat's Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And more to the point: Will they allow us to?

For about 20 years Barrat has written and produced documentaries.  A long-standing fascination with Artificial Intelligence came to a head in 2000, when he interviewed inventor Ray Kurzweil, roboticist Rodney Brooks, and sci-fi legend Arthur C. Clarke. Kurzweil and Brooks were casually optimistic about a future they considered inevitable - a time when we will share the planet with intelligent machines.

"It won't be some alien invasion of robots coming over the hill," Kurzweil told Barrat, "because they'll be made by us." In his compound in Sri Lanka, Clarke wasn't so sure. "I think it's just a matter of time before machines dominate mankind," he said. "Intelligence will win out."

Intelligence, not charm or beauty, is the special power that enables humans to dominate Earth. That dominance wasn't won by a huge intellectual margin either, but by a relatively small one. It doesn't take much to take it all. Now, propelled by a powerful economic wind, scientists are developing intelligent machines. Each year intelligence grows closer to shuffling off its biological coil and taking on an infinitely faster and more powerful synthetic one. But before machine intelligence matches our own, we have a chance. We must develop a science for understanding and coexisting with smart, even superintelligent machines. If we fail, we'll be stuck in an unwinnable dilemma. We'll have to rely on the kindness of machines to survive. Will machines naturally love us and protect us? 

Barrat asks, "Should we bet our existence on it?"

Our Final Invention

Our Final Invention is about what can go wrong with the development and application of advanced AI. It's about AI's catastrophic downside, one you'll never hear about from Google, Apple, IBM, and DARPA. It is growing into the most important conversation of our time.
Some advanced praise for the book:
"A hard-hitting book about the most important topic of this century and possibly beyond — the issue of whether our species can survive. I wish it was science fiction but I know it’s not.”
Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype
"The compelling story of humanity’s most critical challenge. A Silent Spring for the 21st Century.”
Michael Vassar, former President of the Singularity Institute
"Barrat’s book is excellently written and deeply researched. It does a great job of communicating to general readers the danger of mistakes in AI design and implementation.”
Bill Hibbard, author of Super-Intelligent Machines 
"Our Final Invention is a thrilling detective story, and also the best book yet written on the most important problem of the 21st century.”
Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute 
"An important and disturbing book.”
Huw Price, co-founder, Cambridge University Center for the Study of Existential Risk



SOURCE  James Barrat

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