I am a machine. So are you.
Of all the hypotheses I’ve held during my 30-year career, this one in particular has been central to my research in robotics and artificial intelligence. I, you, our family, friends, and dogs—we all are machines. We are really sophisticated machines made up of billions and billions of biomolecules that interact according to well-defined, though not completely known, rules deriving from physics and chemistry. The biomolecular interactions taking place inside our heads give rise to our intellect, our feelings, our sense of self.
Accepting this hypothesis opens up a remarkable possibility. If we really are machines and if—this is a big
if —we learn the rules governing our brains, then in principle there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to replicate those rules in, say, silicon and steel. I believe our creation would exhibit genuine human-level intelligence, emotions, and even consciousness.
I’m far from alone in my conviction that one day we will create a human-level artificial intelligence, often called an artificial general intelligence, or AGI. But how and when we will get there, and what will happen after we do, are now the subjects of fierce debate in my circles. Some researchers believe that AGIs will undergo a positive-feedback self-enhancement until their comprehension of the universe far surpasses our own. Our world, those individuals say, will change in unfathomable ways after such superhuman intelligence comes into existence, an event they refer to as the singularity.
Perhaps the best known of the people proselytizing for this singularity—let’s call them singularitarians—are acolytes of Raymond Kurzweil, author of
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Viking, 2005) and board member of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, in Palo Alto, Calif. Kurzweil and his colleagues believe that this super AGI will be created either through ever-faster advances in artificial intelligence or by more biological means—“direct brain-computer interfaces, biological augmentation of the brain, genetic engineering, [and] ultrahigh-resolution scans of the brain followed by computer emulation” are some of their ideas. They don’t believe this is centuries away; they think it will happen sometime in the next two or three decades.
What will the world look like then? Some singularitarians believe our world will become a kind of techno-utopia, with humans…
Continue reading: https://spectrum.ieee.org/i-rodney-brooks-am-a-robot