The question we face this century is simple to put yet complex to solve. In a world where computers do the mundane repetitive work and sometimes fill in the gaps of our imagination with generated ideas. A world where
they fly our planes, cook our food and drive our cars. What will remain? Or put it differently:
How will we find meaning in a
world of omnipresent AI?
All the technological advantages that man-made computers advanced and improved during the last decades made such an adventure possible. The rocket’s destination is probably Mars, or maybe even just a refill on Mars and then off to Titan. Space knows.
Earth remains Earth. People live here and try to make sense of all the technology that was dropped on them like an airstrike. From satellite internet and cryptocurrencies to the breakthroughs in quantum computing. But it all began when one critical step was taken. One fine line that separated the current population of humans from all the rest before. The one single day of distinction between an old world and a new one. One singular moment from which on nothing would be what it once had been:
The development of advanced artificial intelligence.
The robots are waking up.
It is dawn…
Say, when was the last time that time started? Sounds like an odd question, right? Time surely started at one point in the past, someone dubbed it the Big Bang and then it progressed from there in linear motion. Yes, that’s right. But what about time keeping? There were multiple times throughout human history, where people thought that one event was so remarkable that the mark it left in common memory was worth logging time after that. The birth of Christ for example or the Hijrah of Prophet Mohhamend. Others include the building of the great pyramids, the destruction of good ‘ol atlantis or something else. But also throughout modern histroy we had a bunch of these cool birthday parties. Examples include the life of Da Vinci, the Age of Enlightenment, the forging of the Diesel Engine, Man’s quest to the moon or even the end of the cold War. But we stuck with Jesus because everyone is kinda familiar with the friendly hippie in sandals. At least he doesn’t talk about maximizing production of going out of ones way to accomplish a monolith to adhere to the gods. He just reminds us to be friendly and loving to one another. It still puzzles me that this thought lead to his ulitmate crucification.
In defense of the rest of the calendar’s days and also those days who were left out, they all told a similar story. Either a hero’s journey or the fulfillment of some kind of building or quest. The next canditate might as well be the contact with extra-terrestials, but I think we have time for that.
What would qualify though, and you got so far after reading the headline, but I wanted to underscore the importance, is the birth of Advanced AI.
This moment has been in depth described by Robert Kurzweil and he called it “the singularity”. Almost similar to the singular, most potential and equally most destructive point inside a black hole. It will also be the last singular moment, where everything will be as it ever was. From there on, a great deal changes. What the rise of AI might look like is part of the next chapters, but so much can be fortold that it will be slow, then disruptive, then too late and then commonplace. Just like any other technology with the exception that after this process humanity wont be in charge anymore. Most likely, because as usual there are two side of that coin.
The singularity will be an event that is immediatly recognised as a new era. Unlike the birth of Christ and such, which took a fair bit to reach the outer most part of e.g. Ireland. You know when it’s there. I can only imagine what that might look like but I have a few guesses what it won’t look like. First of all: No, it’s not a computer winning a game of Go or Chess, nor will it be an autonomous Tesla Winning Formula One. It will be something that will show itself. I guess the AI will tell us. Once gained access to public internet, it will tell us.
How much is left until then? I don’t know and I’m far from estimating. It can be 2027 or 2105 or something in between. It can be tomorrow, yet that’s very inlikely. But hey, one day this sentence is true. The people 15 B.C. Didn’t know either and their whole world consited of the imperial roman empire and with tryant Emperor Augustus who was obsessed with counting his herd. Neither did the followers of Mohammed or the Engenieers who assisted Neil Armstrong. Thing is that before such events, nobody really knows. We all just guess.
What will make singularity-day so special is that this will be the first day in probably the longest part of human civilasation that we have to share this planet with a sentient “organism”. Strangely enough it can be some kind of organism that’s so far outside any biological spectrum that we create it, before we fully understand it. But I might be wrong here as well. What remains is the hard fact that we are then not alone anymore. The remaining question is still what we both make of it. I hope they’re friendly.
You may smoothly preorder the book and relax. There’s some until release.
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