THE AGE OF SPIRITUAL MACHINES
(When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence)
It is not a bad definition of man to describe him as a tool-making animal. His earliest contrivances to support uncivilized life were tools of the simplest and rudest construction. His latest achievements in the substitution of machinery, not merely for the skill of the human hand, but for the relief of the human intellect, are founded on the use of tools of a still higher order.
Charles Babbage, 150 years ago
Issues of AI
What are the Claims of ASM?
Who is Ray Kurzweil?
What is his Prediction Record?
Evidence of Validity of ASM Claims
I. Issues of AI (Artificial Intelligence)
What computers still CAN'T do
- Describe the objects on a crowded kitchen table
- Write a summary of a movie
- Tie a pair of shoelaces
- Tell the differences between a cat and a dog
- Recognize humor
What computers CAN do
- Prove theorems - Newell & Simon's Logic Theorist (1956)
- Beat the world's human checkers champion, Dr. Marion Tinsley (1994)
Professor of Computer Science
at the University of Alberta
- Beat the world's human chess champion,
Gary Kasparov (1997)
- Read the world news as a realistic agent,
- Are computers thinking or are they just calculating?
- Are humans thinking or are they just calculating?
- What is consciousness, how does it emerge, and what role does it play in intelligence?
- Once computers match the human brain in subtlety and complexity of thought, are we to consider them conscious?
- If a person scans her brain through a non-invasive scanning technology (such as advanced MRI), and downloads her mind to her personal computer, is the "person" who emerges in the machine the same consciousness as the person who was scanned?
II. What are the Claims of ASM?
Background - Kurzweil's Two Premises:
1. Moore's Law of Integrated Circuits (by Gordon Moore, Inventor of the IC, 1965)
"The packing density of transistors on integrated circuits doubles every two years."
2. Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns
"The species and computational technology will progress at an exponential rate, but the exponent of this growth is vastly higher for the technology than it is for the species."
Thus the computational technology inevitably and rapidly overtakes the species that invented it.
Example of Inevitability of Machine Success - Chess
Figure 8.18 International Chess Federation Ratings for Humans and Computers
(from Firebaugh, Artificial Intelligence, Second Edition)
"...since 1900, human performance has increased about one (actually, 0.87) FIDE point per year while computer performance increases 43 points per year. The second inevitable conclusion is that the best computer chess player will eventually surpass the best human chess player. From the (m,b) values given above, we can compute when this will happen, and the answer is when year = 1995.9 (i.e., about September, 1995). This result misses the date of February 10, 1996 when Deep Blue first defeated Garry Kasparov by only five months.
- The primary political and philosophical issue of the next century will be the definition of who we are.
- There is a plethora of credible scenarios for achieving human-level intelligence in a machine.
- Once a computer achieves a human level of intelligence, it will necessarily roar past it.
Timeline for Emerging Machine Intelligence
Kurzweil projects the impact of increasingly intelligent machines in the areas of
- The computer itself
- Business and Economics
- Politics and Society
- The arts
- Health and Medicine
for each of the following time frames: 2009, 2019, 2029, and 2099.
Consider the following claims:
- A $1000 personal computer can perform about a trillion calculations/second (vs. 4 billion/sec for G4).
- Supercomputers match the hardware capacity of the human brain 20 million billion calculations/sec.
- People typically have at least a dozen computers on and around their bodies, embedded in clothing and jewelry.
- Translating Telephone technology is commonly used for many language pairs.
- There is a growing perception that the primary disabilities of blindness, deafness, and physical impairments do not necessarily impart handicaps.
- Haptic technologies are emerging that allow people to touch and feel objects and other persons at a distance.
- Computers still fail the Turing Test, but increasingly apparent intelligence of computers has spurred interest in philosophy.
- The computational capacity of a $4,000 computing device is approximately equal to the computational capability of the human brain.
- Of the total computing capacity of the human species (humans plus their technology), more than 10 percent is nonhuman.
- Computers are now largely invisible. They are embedded everywherein walls, tables, chairs, desks, clothing, jewelry, and bodies.
- Significant progress has been made in the scanning-based reverse engineering of the human brain.
- Generally, disabilities such as blindness, deafness, and paraplegia are not noticeable and are not regarded as significant.
- The all-enveloping tactile environment is now widely available and fully convincing. Its resolution equals or exceeds that of human touch and can simulate (and stimulate) all of the facets of the tactile sense, including the sensing of pressure, temperature, textures, and moistness.
- People are beginning to have relationships with automated personalities as companions, teachers, caretakers, and lovers. Automated personalities are superior to humans in some ways, such as having very reliable memories and, if desired, predictable (and programmable) personalities.
- There continue to be differences between human and machine intelligence, but the advantages of human intelligence are becoming more difficult to identify and articulate.
- The general consensus is that computers have not yet passed a valid Turing Test, but there is growing controversy on this point.
- A $1,000 unit of computation has the computing capacity of approximately 1,000 human brains.
- Of the total computing capacity of the human species (humans plus technology), more than 99 percent is nonhuman.
- The vast majority of nonhuman computing is done by massively parallel neural nets, much of which is based on the reverse engineering of the human brain.
- Direct neural pathways have been perfected for high-bandwidth connection to the human brain. This allows ... augmenting or replacing the functions of these regions with computing performed either in a neural implant or externally.
- Significant new knowledge is created by machines with little or no human intervention. Unlike humans, machines easily share knowledge structures with one another.
- The handicaps of physical disabilities have been eliminated, and sensory-enhancement devices are used by most of the population.
- The majority of communication does not involve a human. The majority of communication involving a human is between a human and a machine.
- Computers appear to be passing forms of the Turing Test deemed valid by both human and nonhuman authorities.
- A sharp division no longer exists between the human world and the machine world. Human cognition is being ported to machines, and many machines have personalities, skills, and knowledge bases derived from the reverse engineering of human intelligence. Conversely, neural implants based on machine intelligence are providing enhanced perceptual and cognitive functioning to humans. Defining what constitutes a human being is emerging as a significant legal and political issue.
- Machines claim to be conscious and to have as wide an array of emotional and spiritual experiences as their human progenitors, and these claims are largely accepted.
- Human thinking is merging with the world of machine intelligence.
- The reverse engineering of the human brain appears to be complete.
- Machine-based intelligences derived entirely from these extended models of human intelligence claim to be human.
- The number of software-based humans vastly exceeds those still using native neuron-cell-based computation.
- Even among those human intelligences still using carbon-based neurons, there is ubiquitous use of neural implant technology, which provides enormous augmentation of human perceptual and cognitive abilities. Humans who do not utilize such implants are unable to meaningfully participate in dialogues with those who do.
III. Who is Ray Kurzweil?
In discussing philosophies of consciousness and mind, Kurzweil says:
"My own view is that all of these schools are correct when viewed together, but insufficient when viewed one at a time. That is, the truth lies in a synthesis of these views. This reflects my Unitarian religious education in which we studied all the world's religions, considering them 'many paths to the truth.'"
In highschool, he played a piano composition which had been composed by a computer he had built.
In college he ran a business matching highschool kids with colleges using a program he wrote.
In 1974 he founded Kurzweil Computer Products which invented the first omni-font optical character recognition (OCR) system.
In 1976 he developed the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the first print-to-speach reading machine for the blind, the first model of which went to Stevie Wonder.
With Stevie Wonder as musical adviser, he developed the Kurzweil 250, the first electronic musical instrument to successfully emulate the complex sound response of a grand piano and virtually all other orchestral instruments.
In 1982 he started Kurzweil Applied Intelligence with the goal of creating a voice-activated word processor. This spawned Kurzweil Clinical Reporter which allows doctors to dictate medical reports directly. Much of his book was written with Voice Express Plus which takes natural language dictation directly. This has evolved into a listening device for the deaf which recognized natural speech in real time.
He was named Inventor of the Year in 1988 by M.I.T.
His The Age of Intelligent Machines won the Association of American Publishers' Award for the Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990
He was awarded the Dickson Prize, Carnegie Mellon's top science prize for 1994
Recipient of nine honorary doctorates and honors from two U.S.presidents
IV. What is his Prediction Record?
Consider the following predictions for the 1990s from The Age of Intelligent Machines and other Kurzweil writings from the 1980s.
- A computer will defeat the human world chess champion around 1998, and we'll think less of chess as a result.
What Happened: Yes and No
- There will be a sustained decline in the value of commodities (that is, material resources) with most new wealth being created in the knowledge content of products and services, leading to sustained economic growth and prosperity.
What Happened: Right on.
- A worldwide information network linking almost all organizations and tens of millions of individuals will emerge (admittedly, not by the name World Wide Web).
What Happened: It did - the WWW in 1994.
- There will be a national movement to wire our classrooms.
What Happened: Right on.
- The vast majority of commercial music will be created on computer-based synthesizers.
What Happened: Most of the musical sounds you hear on television, in the movies, and in recordings are now created on digital synthesizers.
- Reliable person identification, using pattern-recognition techniques applied to visual and speech patterns, will replace locks and keys in many instances.
What Happened: Right on, with retinal pattern recognition being the most unique of all.
- Continuous speech recognition (CSR) with large vocabularies for specific tasks will emerge in the early 1990s.
What Happened: Whoops - it took till the late 1990s.
Conclusion: Overall, Ray Kurzweil has had a remarkably accurate record of predicting both content and timing.
V. Evidence of Validity of ASM Claims
Case 1: "Blind man 'sees' with camera wired to brain", Racine Journal Times, 1/17/2000
"A blind man can read large letters and navigate around big objects by using a tiny camera wired directly to his brain, the first artificial eye to provide useful vision, a researcher reports."
Case 2: "Cyborg 1.0: Kevin Warwick Outlines his Plan to become One with his Computer", WIRED, February, 2000
- His first implant was a simple transmitter which caused his computer to say "Hello", open doors, and turn on lights in the Cybernetics Laboratory he directs at the University of Reading (London).
- The second implant will both transmit and receive signals and sample nerve impulses sent to his hand. Experiments planned include:
- Record and identify signals associated with motion
- Reproduce sampled motion by resending the signal from the computer
- Sample and record signals associated with pain
- Attempt to reproduce "phantom pain" similar to those of amputees
- Record signals associated with emotional states
- Embed an identical sensor/transmitter/receiver in his wife, Irena
- "Irena and I will investigate the whole range of emotion and sensation. If I move a hand or finger, than send those signals to Irena, will she make the same movement?"
- Such experiments approach "thought-to-thought communication" between humans
- Warwick also poses the question: "What happens when humans merge with machines?"
Case 3: "HELLO, WORLD - Imagine a machine that speaks your language - and translates it for those who don't.", WIRED Special Report on the Future of Translation, May 2000
Consider the three stages required for Machine Translation (MT):
1. Speech to Text (Continuous speech recognition): Solved at the 96% level
- IBM ViaVoice
- L&H Voice Xpress
- Philips FreeSpeech
2. Language A Text to Language B Text: In progress
3. Text to Speech (Speech Synthesis): Completely solved
- Macintosh SimpleText reader
The MT Challenge:
- In order to understand a sentence, your knowledge of linguistics is a relatively minor matter. Your knowledge of the world is incredibly important.
- What is needed is deeper insight into the processes of language and cognition. There is no such thing as 'perfect translation.' There are only translations more or less suitable or successful for specific purposes and contexts.
Case 4: "For First Time, Gene Therapy Really Works", St. Petersburg Times, April 28, 2000
For the first time, scientists have successfully used gene therapy, the replacement of defective genes with working copies, to save the lives of several infants who might otherwise have died of a severe immune disorder.