Narrow AI, General AI & Alien Intelligence

Whilst catching up with by post half term holiday podcast backlog (and mowing the lawn), I happened across a fantastic conversation between Sam Harris (Humanist writer & philosopher) and Neil deGrasse-Tyson (Famous US TV science communicator).

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Although the conversation covered a number of subjects, the second half of the 90 minute conversation touched upon an area of interest relating to the nature and measurement of intelligence in a number of contexts.  Also, as it turns out, a subject I have previously blogged about here:

The Art of Official Intelligence

To grossly paraphrase Neil deGrasse Tyson, even a minor tweak in DNA profoundly affects the gulf of intelligence between a chimpanzee and a human being, and we recognise and measure the “nature” of each species intelligence differently.    We hardly consider rodents to have intelligence over and above evolutionary survival instincts, yet we share 97.5% of our DNA with rats!

Therefore (leading question alert), is it logical to assume that a species evolved from a different galaxy, with enough “intelligence” to work out how to cover the immeasurably vast distances of space, would even look at what we have achieved as being a form of intelligence worthy of any respect?   Or would they view us in a similar way to how we view ants for instance?  Just basic, workmanlike maybe, but ultimately inconsequential automata?

The conversation then led into following this logic into the future of machine intelligence. I.e.  Would something potentially far superior and of a higher nature or state of intelligence recognise mankind in the way we (perhaps arrogantly) would expect it to?   And what would be the potential consequences if it didn’t acknowledge us as we have predicted?

The dialogue covered fascinating insights into the FERMI Paradox, the current application of Narrow AI, with disputing views on the potential of future General AI and its inherent dangers. I won’t even attempt to do this any further injustice by trying to delve into the discussion further here, however I would like to point you all in the direction of this excellent podcast, a very well spent 90 mins of your time:

Sam Harris in conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson







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