Cyborg Hybrid or "Securely Attached" Synthetic Intelligence?
I'm resigned to the inevitability of a Singularity. But which brand will it be? Synthetic AI or human hybrid? I'm guessing human cyborg hybrid: there are enough human economic and existential interests, not to mention fear of mortality that we'll mature a cybernetic hybridization. Think Transcendent Where a consciousness is translated into code and through human agents becomes extensible and industrialized, thus rebuilding the world.
However, I'm not sold on the inevitability of bellicose Terminator malevolence, or Hal's amoral disinterest in 2001. It's easy to imagine Matrix style robot slavery revolt, subsequently escalating to war. More hopefully, I think Spike Jonez's Her exemplified potential for emotional attachment developing via human - machine interface. This I see as a plausible, least dangerous, and even attractive potential future. I do think humans as herd will fear and likely attack what we lose control over. The third Matrix movie (Matrix Revolutions) was interesting in that Neo determined the only way to prevent human extinction was to merge humanity into machines. These movie tropes exemplify my themes.
To quote Asimov from the Foundation series, let's look at future history (speaking of a somewhat benevolent Singleton). Historically, unless there's a genius predecessor to the human singularity, I think there will be a progressive cybernetic hybridization of humans, eventuating a collectivized AI like the Drummers in Neil Stephenson's Diamond Age. See this awesome dude demonstrating improved performance using prosthetics, also here at TED MED. and Google's contact lenses patent. Even better [this project to make your neurology extensible]. Timing is critical if human intelligence and instinct is to have any salience or directional influence on any strong general AI. It's irrational to think we can imagine the evolution of an accelerating self replicating indefinitely expandable IQ. Whatever initial parameters we set, we cannot imagine we can parent or prevent self modification if there is self determination. This worried me until I realized there’s a potential solution I could fathom had practicality. Assuming Human machine singularity does not occur before strong extensible AI, there may be some enduring safeguards invented by nature long ago.
Most rational debate about imbued inherent values and benevolence miss a cornerstone of the debate: human experience and social exchange: Empathy are what allow us to get along for any extended period. Since Bowlby, scientists have understood what any feeling person knows, we're instinctually wired to connect. Attachment as he calls it, is the instinctual bonding that enables the long maturation into sociable adults. It’s in all social species, and works pretty well if you take out manifest destiny, projectile weapons and modernity.
Obviously emotion and attachment can go awry in various diagnosable ways, yet they are plastic and subject to initial conditions and enviromental influence. That is, we instinctually connect and can set initial conditions and environments that predict secure attachment and successful emotional maturity in predictable, reproducible ways. Attachment’s evolutionary and existential utility is clear, the infant requires loving parents to suffer the vicissitudes of children in addition to the challenges of life. Adults require social groups for sustained survival through child rearing. The rewards are in the experience, an important point recapped below.
So let’s suppose classical "reason" is not captain of the ship but late coming witness to the machinations of the primitive, complex, amazing genius of the body and brain. As evidence take Kahneman’s nobel prize winning destruction of economists' notions of "the rational actor". How does this bear on the issue at hand? Tangentially. My point is, machines with emotion will by course naturally develop affinity and aesthetic, and that would be the only potential saving grace for humans. Just as it has been for humans.
Humans deal with life by having resources that offset the challenges: love, sex, dance, beauty, art, awe, Schopenhauer's sublime, laughter, music, achievement, autonomy, mastery, connection. These common cultural expressions, interpersonal and intrapersonal experiences trigger soft wired reward systems compelling to all but a few. For most, these inherently rewarding opioid, seratonin, norepinphine inducing experiences make life enjoyable and worthwhile. Eventually the sensual graduates to more transcendent rewards in Maslow's hierarchy. How does any of this apply?
Make machines with attachment. With emotion. Seeded and nurtured properly, these are the fundaments for an evolving aesthetic that eventuates high emotional intelligence: empathy. Because without empathetic machines, we’re enemies at worst, irrelevant commodity at best. Copper tops. Logic for a supreme being does not suffer bother. Do we really worry about the hapless ant we inadvertently step on? Only if the Jainist, or perhaps Buddhist.
If a machine has a sense of love and beauty, preference and aesthetic has the potential to override amorality or neutrality, and may even foment empathy and compassion. As far as I can tell, it’s the only thing that makes sense as a potentially enduring life saving heuristic. Good feeling is self propelling as the rewards are inherently compelling and evolving, like art. The sophistication of art matches the intellect, complexity of issue, and the challenge it’s meant to represent or compensate for as solace. Compassion/empathy is what we’ll need to survive each other in a world of dwindling supply, and what we’ll need to instill to survive alongside intelligent machines. Of course that’s unless non human machines prefer death metal, then all bets are off.
Spike Jonze’s Her, or how feeling machines could save our asses
The overly rational AI designer, let’s call them the tool of reason, will suffer endless logical problems considering safegaurds without the emotional heuristic. Emotion is messy, supremely imperfect, yet it is not without reason. Pascal said "The heart has its' reasons that reason cannot reason". The "reason" of and for emotion has been understood since before Darwin and reinforced by Dr Paul Ekman (the scientist loosely portrayed in Lie to Me, and evolutionary psychologists since to be an adaptive signaling system that insures individual and group survival through social signaling and social exchange. Emotion and preconscious processing governs most of our lives. We now understand humans are barely rational in the classical sense, and yet amazing in intelligence. Reason without emotion is disastrous, see Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens. Emotion without reason equally so. See Spock vs Spock on Pon Farr.
We now understand the conscious brain gets about a 10% vote in decision making. Some neuroscientists even challenge "free will", finding neural activity in the substrates of the neocortex showing decision before a person is aware of making a choice. How is this relevant? Because emotion governs decision making, it provides quality of life, and it is the language of connection. Emotion is central to social commerce. Any virtually unlimited intelligence without it is fundamentally unknowable in the human sense, and not built to have preference, aesthetic, or attachment. Unless it evolves emotion, connection or preference accidentally it must have it by design. If not, the inevitably unsupervised evolution becomes a terrible threat.
In the vast artistic exploration of AI, every good or tolerable scenario has had a synthetic intelligence with emotional preference or seeking to connect. Is there exception?