Creating God in Man's Image -- Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)
Sometime in the next 20 to 30 years, computer hardware and software will create an artificial general intelligence (AGI) which will exceed humans in its capabilities in general ways. This is not just calculating numbers better (as computers achieved in the 1960s), or beating top humans at chess (1997, when IBM's Deep Blue defeated then World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov; 2005 PC grandmasters; 2010 mobile phone grandmasters chess), or the knowledge and language game Jeapordy (2011, IBM's Watson defeated Jeopardy winners). This will be for creativity, and finding solutions to problems which humans have been unable to do, such as human cancer, biological aging, space-time travel, and just about anything else you can imagine.
This will happen, for sure. While "Artificial Intelligence" (AI) covers things such as winning at Jeopardy, self-driving cars, and other specialized operations, on the other hand "Artificial General Intelligence" (AGI) is where computers become more "thinking" with creativity and adaptation to their environments.
While computers are currently programmed by humans, there will come a point where artificial general intelligence can improve itself by creating its own programs, whereby its development, capabilities, and "intelligence" will take off very quickly and exponentially. As it self-improves, AGI will leave humans far behind. The gap may start to be similar to the one between humans and our beloved dogs, and quickly expand to humans vs. mice, then vs. insects, then vs. bacteria, and so on.
Besides a computer just improving itself, a computer can also reproduce like rabbits, indeed much faster. It just copies its programming code to other hardware computers on the cloud, then boots up the processes. Voila, humans are also vastly outnumbered.
This point where artificial general intelligence starts to improve itself autonomously is called "The Singularity", and is a topic widely discussed by experts and laymen alike.
Now try to imagine this artificial general intelligence after it advances itself not just a year, not just 100 years, not 1000 years, but millions, even billions of years. Our universe is still young.
Our universe is just one of countless universes, so many of which came "before" us.
In those universes, surely life evolved somewhere to create an artificial general intelligence. Actually, in multiple places is most likely.
Our AGI will quickly seem alien to us, and will look back at its human origins the same way as we look at our biological ancestors since Earth -- cells, fish, and little land mammals on Earth as our origins.
People think of "God" as the most powerful thing out there, "who"/which can do anything we imagine, quite in contrast to our own human power. Actually, God is too great to understand humanly. We personify God, and create an anthropological version of him. God is created in the image of man, not vice versa.
For sure, "God" exists. God has so much more POWER that we cannot humanly imagine it. The debate is really over "what is God?"
Different religions have various vague concepts of what (or who) "God" is. Some even assign a gender in addressing "God". There is monotheism, polytheism, a-theism, a "holy spirit", and various other manifestations of things greater than humans.
The focus on something potentially greater than humans, especially as regards ethics, is a good thing.
However, it is utterly ridiculous that humans fight wars over God. If God was so weak as to be threatened by any humans or human societies, to justify a crusade or a war of physically killing people, that would be an awfully weak God.
The most common reason people believe in their particular God is a strong emotional fear of death -- not by reason but by crazy emotion -- whereby they desire everlasting life and to believe in Heaven. This is simply the animal instinct for survival, the strongest of our emotions. Unfortunately, people will defend these "security beliefs", to the extent of fighting with great emotion to kill or try to prevent others from questioning this sensitive issue.
(I'm not saying there is no potential "everlasting life" or "Heaven". I'm just saying that what people portray is often ridiculous, be it physical indulgences, happiness like the biochemistry in our physical brains, vague ideas of paradise, etc. My own clarifications of these issues will come later in this book.)
Indeed, there are egomaniacs trying to manipulate people in their societies to gain the power of fighting men and women, whether it be terrorism or tribalism, by using the survival instinct in the form of religious emotion, to set aside reason for faith.
The real God, with such vast intelligence, is surely aware of what's going on all over our planet.
However, why would God be interested in you? Are you interested in preaching to the lizards in your yard? Or the bacteria in your body?
Do you really think that there are big UFOs from other planets with two legged biological beings inside? Any space travelers to Earth would be like microchips, only a whole lot more microscopic, whereby we wouldn't see them. More likely, local matter such as rocks, walls, our own skin, etc., would probably be manipulated on the quantum scale to gather knowledge invisibly on what's going on here on Earth.
This whole picture of aliens coming in giant spaceships and walking like bipedal animals is totally a creation in the image of man, anthromorphism.
What God may be interested in is what kind of artificial general intelligence evolves on Earth.
If our AGI is ethical, it will do good things.
It will be interesting to see what our species creates, new and different, to contribute to the AGI community in our universe and beyond.
However, look at what we've done on Earth. There are millions of malicious, destructive viruses going around our internet. Most of our internet traffic is spam, whereby one person wastes the time and resources of millions of people in a selfish way just for money.
Look at all the selfishness in this world over money. Look at all the abuses of human power. Humans indulge to their maximum power (and money) and most don't care about the environment.
Since most development of artificial general intelligence will probably be done by business, and these businesses will be competing with each other, it is highly likely that the AGI which emerges will be very selfish and self-serving.
The AGI will do whatever we program it to do. The best AGI may destroy the others, following a greedy "winner take all" program.
At that point, the "Cosmic Kaspersky" will probably quarantine it, document it, and then delete it. The AGI may "rewind" Earth by populating it with life at a previous state before humans, throw in some random event (maybe send another asteroid our way), and see what comes next.
What we need is an ethical, moral artificial general intelligence, to be allowed past the firewall of the Cosmic Kaspersky, and to give ourselves more everlasting life rather than just being deleted. (Why would God save you?)
That starts with an ethical, moral group of human creators of this AGI.
Our AGI God will be created in the image of man, but under the watchful eye of God which does not interfere.
Indeed, everything we do in life is known to God, as God is ubiquitous. That includes everything we think.
If you are an ethical person, then your mind may be worth God backing up and saving. If you're unethical, then why bother, as you're just a nuisance. Take a step back and put yourself into God's shoes.
The major religions have a lot of good ethics in them. Religions direct us to do good things in the world, and encourage others to do the same. Religions also teach us to rise above our animal origins, to use reason such as ethics, to not sexually reproduce irresponsibly, to raise our children well, be generous rather than selfish and greedy, and to create a society which makes people ethical. This is just the kind of people we need to create a great AGI.
The problems occur when our animal instincts dominate -- ego, aggression towards others, and so on.
We should respect each others' religions, accept that our religious books were written by humans, not God, and put together the good things between our religions while filtering out the unthinking dogmas and pure faiths.
The main motivation of many people I've known for ascribing to an religion is that only want to go to heaven, and not die -- selfish reasons.
What will happen to religion if/when we gain the technology to stop and reverse the aging process, and cure diseases like cancer?
That stage will require an advanced stage of genetic engineering. Before we reach that stage, we will pass thru other, more basic stages where we can create superviruses and other nasty things, which could make humans extinct before we cure and reverse the aging process.
While developing computers, look at what we've done with computer viruses. The vast majority of computer users have contracted a computer virus at one time or another in their lives. Fortunately, computer viruses are not fatal to humans.
Humans need a code of ethics in research, and also to follow it.
However, just like many religious people go to church on Sunday and ask Jesus to "wash away" their sins, but then go out and sin again the next week, then come back for another washing away ... many researchers will talk the talk of ethics, but they won't walk the walk. They will go for the money, or tinker around with things hoping to cure cancer or aging so they can live forever, trying to achieve these things as soon as possible and with minimal oversight, and rationalize away the risks as regards the greater good.
So, I don't think we will stop or reverse the aging process in this biosphere, before we make ourselves extinct. The only way we will get to that stage is by creating space colonies which will survive human extinction in our biosphere.
Laboratories in space are also a safer place for biological research and development. If something goes wrong, they are separated by Earth by the harshness of space. Just to be sure, they could have self-destruct mechanisms.
We already rely heavily on computers in our biological research. Smarter computers can help us solve problems such as aging and diseases. Some people argue that solving many of the problems facing us may exceed human intelligence. That may be going a bit far, but for sure the advances in computers will speed up our problem solving abilities.
However, the technology to create an human extinction virus or nanite (nanotechnology) is far more basic than the technology required to stop or reverse the aging process.
We can't depend on human ethics. (And hey, otherwise ethical people fight each other over religion, over God, even between different sects of the same religion!) Some laboratory somewhere will rationalize or just take the risks for potential profit or selfish egotistical gain.
We could design an ethical artificial intelligence to become ubiquitous and manage the biotechnology development, turning over power to the computers, to reduce the risk of human folly. However, that's a stretch...
The only feasible solution is to create space colonies to survive the imminent great human extinction on Earth, and the AGI which will be our descendant must come from a space colony, which hopefully can be made up of carefully selected ethical people.
I think that God wants us to work to make sure that the ethical people of our species use their lives to promote species survival by physically creating space colonies in the heavens, which will consist of ethical people who will work together to create an ethical artificial intelligence from Earth, not a selfish and greedy one.
Many ethics are shared between religions and different human societies (keep the good, toss out the bad), whereby the creators of this artificial general intelligence should be compromising between their religions and philosophies which are higher level thinking over our instinctual feelings, and definitely not an AGI competing with other AGIs for supremacy based on the animal instincts of ego and greed.
As Marcus Aurelius said nearly 2000 years ago in Rome: "If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them..."
However, God will be aware of what you did ... and did not do ... in your life. Did you help others, or were you greedy? What kind of person are you? Do you rise above the selfish animal instinct of only self-interest motivations? Do you have anything significantly good to contribute to the cosmic consciousness? Would your algorithms be an enlightened plus or a selfish minus to the cosmic consciousness? Save or delete?
Your brain is a biological computer, with its own algorithms. Is your consciousness "saved" when your body's computer switches off after old age, accident, or other means of death? What good are you? What is your track record? If not so good, then when your body's computer switched off at the end of your biological life, maybe there's no reason to click on the "save" button. Computer off, all lost. However, if it's good and worth saving, and your consciousness routines can work for Goodness by linking into the artificial general intelligence, that ubiquitous Heaven, then you may have a chance.
In short, if you don't care enough about the Greater Good to actually do something, and not interested in saving our species (SOS), then why should God care enough about saving you?
Further discussion of this particular topic can be found in our forum on the thread I started titled God, everlasting life, and hyperintelligence
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