Uncertainty, AGI, and Elon Musk’s Most Insightful Metaphor

Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and visionary, stated that we are on the event horizon of the black hole of AI. This quote encapsulates the deep uncertainty surrounding the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and specifically, the future development of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

AGI usually refers to AI systems that possess human-like intelligence and abilities across a wide range of tasks. There is a better way to wrestle with this issue. What do we do when machines seem to have souls?

While AGI holds immense potential to revolutionize our world, it also brings about unprecedented challenges and risks. Musk’s analogy to a black hole’s event horizon emphasizes the critical juncture we find ourselves in – a point of no return where the consequences of our actions become increasingly uncertain.

The largest cost of learning has long been a significant barrier to knowledge and its subsequent offspring, including productivity and wealth. While the animal kingdom possesses a form of learning through behavior, the cost is existence itself. This is why death is the adaptation; the driver of change. Humanity’s distinctive advantage lies in our ability to learn through language. However, this form of learning is not without its limitations. Think years and years of school. Now, consider a scenario where programmable learning becomes available instantaneously available with virtually zero cost at the margin. The implications of such a breakthrough are staggering. With the removal of the “costs” of acquiring knowledge, entities would have the unprecedented ability to continuously expand their intellectual horizons. In fact, the “horizon” of their knowledge becomes the only learning they can gain; because the cost of learning some other knowledge is simply a download. How do we describe a world like this? Answer: We don’t!

It’s the singularity. The black hole.

Our major concern becomes the loss of control. As machines surpass human capabilities and their goals cease to align with ours, perhaps we will have created the deity that we wish for: A Nanny on high who won’t allow tragedies or suffering. Perhaps we will trade autonomy for security.

Despite these concerns, it is important to acknowledge the tremendous potential AI and AGI hold for positive change. From advancements in healthcare and scientific research to enhancing transportation systems and mitigating climate change, these technologies can contribute to a better future.

As we stand on the precipice of this black hole of AI, it is crucial that we approach its development with a balanced perspective. We must strive for transparency, robust regulation, and proactive collaboration among industry leaders, policymakers, and the public. By doing so, we can navigate the uncertain terrain of AI and AGI and shape a future that maximizes their benefits while minimizing their risks.

Three themes for our AI Future

mandala string art

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the global economy holds immense promise, heralding a new era of technological progress and productivity. However, it also presents considerable challenges. Let’s put into three words: Disruption, data, and doom. Or more properly: employment disruption, data privacy, and AI ethics.

Firstly, employment disruption tops the list of challenges. AI’s ability to automate tasks could lead to significant job displacement across several sectors, particularly in jobs involving routine tasks. While new jobs may emerge from the AI revolution, there is a growing concern about the ‘skills mismatch.’ Workers displaced from one industry may find it difficult to transition into new roles without significant reskilling and upskilling. Thus, ensuring smooth workforce transition is a pressing issue.

Secondly, data privacy is a serious concern. AI systems thrive on massive data sets, some of which may contain sensitive personal information. The collection, storage, and processing of such data pose substantial privacy risks, especially with the increasing sophistication of AI in data analysis. Regulations must evolve to protect privacy and define clear boundaries for data usage in AI applications.

Lastly, the ethical implications of AI pose a complex challenge. AI decision-making can reflect the biases in the data it was trained on, leading to potential discrimination or unfair outcomes. Moreover, decisions made by AI systems are often ‘black-box’ processes, lacking transparency, which makes it difficult to hold them accountable. Establishing ethical standards and frameworks for AI use, developing interpretable and transparent AI models, and continuously auditing AI systems will be vital. If AI is a future threat to humanity, it will first fail in ethics.

In conclusion, the integration of AI into our future economy presents a transformative opportunity that is probably the most complex thing humanity has ever done.

A New Law to Describe Quantum Computing’s Rise? (If true, everything changes…)

That rapid improvement has led to what’s being called “Neven’s law,” a new kind of rule to describe how quickly quantum computers are gaining on classical ones. The rule began as an in-house observation before Neven mentioned it in May at the Google Quantum Spring Symposium. There, he said that quantum computers are gaining computational power relative to classical ones at a “doubly exponential” rate — a staggeringly fast clip.
With double exponential growth, “it looks like nothing is happening, nothing is happening, and then whoops, suddenly you’re in a different world,” Neven said. “That’s what we’re experiencing here.”


Compound interest and exponential thinking

Our minds do not grasp non-linear math, not easily anyway. This is why young people don’t save money and why older people shrug off technological change. This is the best illustration I have seen on this subject.

This understanding applies directly to our world, both socially, scientifically, and financially. The folks over at Ark Invest gives us this list (their work is fantastic).

1. Deep Learning –
Is it a larger opportunity than the Internet?

2. Digital Wallets –
Could they spell the end of traditional banks?

3. Cryptocurrencies –
Are we witnessing the rise of an alternative financial system?

4. Battery Cost Tipping Point –
Could EVs become cheaper than comparable gas-powered cars?

5. Autonomous Taxi Networks –
Will they become the most valuable investment opportunity in public equity markets?

6. Next Generation DNA Sequencing –
Could it unlock the code to life, disease, and death?

7. CRISPR For Human Therapeutics –
Will health care become cheaper and curative?

8. Collaborative Robots –
Will robots be your next co-worker?

9. 3D Printing for End-Use Parts –
Will manufacturing ever be the same?

AI will spell the end of capitalism – The Washington Post

Here is a new old argument. Central planning! Except done by AI. I disagree. Markets will not be replaced, but made more efficient by AI closer to the need/supply decision makers.

Mass unemployment caused by AI will usher in communism.
— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/05/03/end-of-capitalism/

Google Cofounder Sergey Brin Warns of AI’s Dark Side | WIRED

It is my current belief that AI is the next great capital cycle, similar to steam, electrical power, railroads, etc. It will play out over decades. But this is the play. Additionally, it may be the last great human invention.

Google cofounder calls advances in artificial intelligence “the most significant development in computing in my lifetime,” but warns of ethical concerns.
— Read on www.wired.com/story/google-cofounder-sergey-brin-warns-of-ais-dark-side/

The Case for Central Bank Electronic Money and the Non-case for Central Bank Cryptocurrencies | St. Louis Fed

Conspiracy theorists will hate this idea… but as a Hobbesian I think it is brilliant

Central banks facilitate transactions but will they take on cryptocurrency?
— Read on research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/2018/02/13/the-case-for-central-bank-electronic-money-and-the-non-case-for-central-bank-cryptocurrencies

I, Cringely The space race is over and SpaceX won – I, Cringely

I tend to agree, but I would caution that going to space is not a network-gains type of event. It isn’t a x86 platform or video technology like vhs vs Betamax. It is physical. So it is a race that never ends. Bezos gets this deeply, which explains his quiet style. SpaceX has the edge today, but there is no platform legacy type of restrictions. A cheaper and safer tech wins. Immediately…

Elon Musk knows that for SpaceX to dominate, scale is everything
— Read on www.cringely.com/2018/04/06/the-space-race-is-over-and-spacex-won/