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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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It’s Already Too Late to Stop the Singularity

We cannot rule out the possibility that a superintelligence will do some very bad things, says AGI expert Ben Goertzel. But we can't stop the research now – even if we wanted to.

Let’s just go ahead and address the question on everyone’s mind: will AI kill us? What is the negative potential of transhuman superintelligence? Once its cognitive power surpasses our own, will it give us a leg-up in 'the singularity', or will it look at our collective track record of harming our own species, other species, the world that gave us life, etc., and exterminate us like pests? AI expert Ben Goertzel believes we’ve been at this point of uncertainty many times before in our evolution. When we stepped out of our caves, it was a risk – no one knew it would lead to cities and space flight. When we spoke the first word, took up agriculture, invented the printing press, flicked the internet on-switch – all of these things could have led to our demise, and in some sense, our eventual demise can be traced all the way back to the day that ancient human learnt how to make fire. Progress helps us, until the day it kills us. That said, fear of negative potential cannot stop us from attempting forward motion – and by now, says Goertzel, it’s too late anyway. Even if the U.S. decided to pull the plug on superhuman intelligence research, China would keep at it. Even if China pulled out, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Nigeria would march on. We know there are massive benefits – both humanitarian and corporate – and we have latched to the idea. "The way we got to this point as a species and a culture has been to keep doing amazing new things that we didn’t fully understand," says Goertzel, and for better or worse, "that’s what we’re going to keep on doing." Ben Goertzel's most recent book is AGI Revolution: An Inside View of the Rise of Artificial General Intelligence.

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AI Will Surpass Human Ability Before the Century Is Over

One day this century, a robot of super-human intelligence will offer you the chance to upgrade your mind, says AGI expert Ben Goertzel. Will you take it?

For all the talk of AI, it always seems that gossip is faster than progress. But it could be that within this century, we will fully realize the visions science fiction has promised us, says Dr. Ben Goertzel – for better or worse. Humanity will always create and invent, but the last invention of necessity will be a human-level Artificial General Intelligence mind, which will be able to create a new AIG with super-human intelligence, and continually create smarter and smarter versions of itself. It will provide all basic human needs – food, shelter, water – and those of us who wish to experience a higher echelon of consciousness and intelligence will be able to upgrade to become super-human. Or, perhaps there will be war – there’s a bit of uncertainty there, admits Goertzel. "There’s a lot of work to get to the point where intelligence explodes… But I do think it’s reasonably probable we can get there in my lifetime, which is rather exciting," he says. Ben Goertzel's most recent book is AGI Revolution: An Inside View of the Rise of Artificial General Intelligence.

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Hey Bill Nye! Could Scientists Today Create Frankenstein’s Monster?

Has technology advanced enough that we could stitch together body parts and reanimate the dead? Bill Nye one-ups that old-school Frankenstein vision with newer (and cooler) scientific possibilities.

This week on Tuesday’s With Bill, Lauren from Tennessee wants to know whether it would be possible to assemble different body parts and reanimate them in the style of Frankenstein’s monster. Stitching together parts and inserting consciousness is likely not possible, says Nye – the closest future theory to it is the singularity, when AI gets as intricate and sophisticated as the human brain, and we’re able to upload our consciousness into it and live for as long as we keep the batteries charged. Nye has his doubts about that, however. What he is optimistic – and realistic – about is developing technology that in the next 50 years or so will allow us to regenerate our own body parts from stem cells. In our lifetime perhaps we could grow a new pancreas or a liver segment for our own transplant. Connected moving tissue like hands and fingers are much further into the future. CRISPR is another incredible technology that’s only in its infancy. It’s a genetic engineering cut-and-paste methods that allows genes to be manipulated to basic desires. Once that technology is developed, we may be able to create genetic supermen and women in the womb, and it likely has applications beyond what we can currently imagine. The potential for what humans can create is immense, and will be a lot sleeker looking than a flesh and thread patchwork a la Frankenstein. Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

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