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Ben Goertzel rejects SIAI’s “Scary Idea” October 31, 2010

Posted by Summerspeaker in Technology, The Singularity, Transhumanism.
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Just in time for Halloween, Goertzel tells us we shouldn’t be so afraid of some genie turning everything into paperclips. He explains why he considers the Singularity Institute‘s quest for provably friendly artificial intelligence essentially misguided and potentially harmful. The following passage particularly resonates with me (emphasis added):

Many people die each day, and many others are miserable for various reasons — and all sorts of other advanced and potentially dangerous technologies are currently under active development. My own view is that unaided human minds may well be unable to deal with the complexity and risk of the world that human technology is unleashing. I actually suspect that our best hope for survival and growth through the 21st century is to create advanced AGIs to help us on our way — to cure disease, to develop nanotech and better AGI and invent new technologies; and to help us keep nasty people from doing destructive things with advanced technology.

I think that to avoid actively developing AGI, out of speculative concerns like the Scary Idea, would be an extremely bad idea.

That is, rather than “if you go ahead with an AGI when you’re not 100% sure that it’s safe, you’re committing the Holocaust,” I suppose my view is closer to “if you avoid creating beneficial AGI because of speculative concerns, then you’re killing my grandma” !! (Because advanced AGI will surely be able to help us cure human diseases and vastly extend and improve human life.)

The unpleasantness of life at present always jumps into my mind whenever I encounter folks discussing existential threats. Such concerns are legitimate and I’m glad people are looking at them seriously. However, as someone with relatively little to lose the idea of the status quo persisting terrifies me more than possible cataclysm. The real horrors of economicracial, and sexual oppression surround us.  Biology mandates the regular torments of injury and disease. We’re in sad shape both socially and physically. Transformation is never a safe undertaking, but these intolerable circumstances demand it.

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