‘We are probably one of the last generations of Homo sapiens’
— Yuval Noah Harari
Do you think that we are the last generation of intelligent beings to have walked upon the green planet? Or is it just a myth?
Well, the answer to that is a question to you all.
We, Humans as a species are radically different from other biological organisms in the ability to think and take decisions independently. In a few close decades, we would be sharing this unique ability with another entity with its own self-thinking abilities – Artificial Intelligence. Futurists like Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil have been claiming that the world is rapidly approaching a saturation point, where the accelerating pace of intelligent machines will soon exceed all human capabilities and the advent of such a super intelligence will abruptly trigger a chain of uncontrollable technological events which will bring about a major change to the Human civilization as we know it.
Intelligence singularity is thus an outcome which emerged from Mankind’s need to self-improvise itself to better understand the happenings around us. It is a focal point where the Machine Intelligence meets the Human Intelligence. Once Machine Intelligence becomes fully autonomous , it will self-improvise itself by writing better softwares and will continue to do so until it is limited by the laws of quantum or mechanical physics or due to some theoretical constraints.
So when are we going to reach this SINGULARITY? Ray Kurzweil calculates that the singularity will arrive around 2045 by working through a set of data models and predictions.
How are we going to achieve this?
To be able to achieve this remarkable feat, we would need a machine capable of handling 10 quadrillion calculations per second (1016). Supercomputers are already at 100 trillion (1014) cps, and will hit 1016 cps around the end of this decade but this is where we go wrong , sheer processing power is not enough to build a fully automated AI ; to do this we need to understand the working principle of the Human brain . We have already reverse engineered the Cerebellum and various other parts of the brain in an effort to study the working principle of the brain. IBM, the tech giant has already created a model of the brain with 10,000 neurons and a billion connections. And according to leading futurists, we will be able to completely reverse engineer the brain in a couple of decades.
Development of Artificial Intelligence is no easy manovre; for some very hard problems the time required to calculate will be exponential and thus we will need efficient algorithms which should replace the current inefficient algorithms. AI will have to process a large amount of data and there arises a need to efficiently handle big data.
Role of Quantum Computers:
This decade marks the failure of MOORE’S LAW which states that that the number of transistors (hence the processing power) that can be put onto a silicon chip of a given size will double every 18 months.
So, will this stop us from achieving Intelligence Singularity? No, Scientists have already found another way to tackle this hurdle – Quantum Computers, which are replacements for Classical Computers but with a zillion fold increase in processing speed. Quantum computers make use of quantum particles like a molecule, an atom or even an electron to process data and provide valid information. The fundamental unit of a Quantum computer is a Qubit which is a bit’s counterpart, the fundamental unit of a Classical computer. Unlike a Bit, a qubit can have any value between 0 and 1 and this gives a large number of possible states given a small number of qubits.
Quantum computers have limitless applications: There is no supercomputer in the world which can calculate the age of the universe because the universe tends to expand always. It is very difficult to dynamically calculate such a huge amount of data by supercomputers but quantum computers on the other hand can do this within a matter of seconds.
Quantum computers will be the connecting bridge between various trends in technology like big data, Machine and Deep Learning and ultimately, Artificial Intelligence.
Impact of Artificial Intelligence:
“Radical life extension, for one and the extinction of Human beings for another.”
The real impact Artificial Intelligence would have on our society is undoubtedly the most controversial topic of the current era.
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded”
– Stephen Hawking
“One of Human race’s biggest existential threat”
The reason why many scientists and futurists fear the development of AI is because of the uncertainty that lies in its functionality. Artificial Intelligence is basically a computer program capable of thinking and a machine will consume all resources necessary to achieve its goal. Let us for example, consider that the ultimate goal of an AI is to ensure the existence of Human race with no given constraints. Then, there might arise a situation where AI chooses to eradicate the humans depending upon some parameter (say, the IQ of a person) which is equivalent to mass murder but in the end, the AI has served its purpose and its logic is undeniably right.
Other than this, AI might bring about changes like:
Ascended Human Body: a human body with high immunity against diseases and an arbitrary life extension by an unknown factor.
Monte Carlo Simulation: we would be able to predict the likeliness of an event in the future based on past and present inputs.
Origin of the Universe and Life: a model of the universe can be developed and a lot of useful information can be obtained.
Space Exploration: AI will radically modernize the ways in which we look out for alien life forms in the universe.
S computers increase in its computational efficiency, it becomes more and more intelligent. There will come a time when Human intelligence and Machine intelligence become interdependent leading to the Intelligence Explosion. The destiny of Humans is to gain Knowledge and pass it on and this unquenchable thirst to know more will lead to the invention of Artificial Intelligence.
“What if you are receive a message from outer space which tells “we will arrive at your planet in another 10 years?” Would you be waiting for that event without any preparation or would you prepare for such an event taking all the counter-measures needed to face it. Same is the case happening here; we know that AI is coming but we are not prepared for it yet.”
The question of our generation being the last in our species will thus depend on another controversial and unpredictable question – Will Artificial Intelligence lead to Mankind’s salvation or will it lead to the dawn of our destruction?
The answer to this lies in the greatest minds of this century. Are you one of them? How are you going to change the fate of the Human race?