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Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
- ASIN : B00LOOCGB2
- Publisher : OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (2 July 2014)
- Language : English
- File size : 2265 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 431 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 94,721 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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All in all, throughout the book I had an uneasy feeling that the author is trying to trick me with a philosophical sleight of hand. I don't doubt Bostrom's skills with probability calculations or formalizations, but the principle "garbage in - garbage out" applies to such tools also. If one starts with implausible premises and assumptions, one will likely end up with implausible conclusions, no matter how rigorously the math is applied. Bostrom himself is very aware that his work isn't taken seriously in many quarters, and at the end of the book, he spends some time trying to justify it. He makes some self-congratulatory remarks to assure sympathethic readers that they are really smart, smarter than their critics (e.g. "[a]necdotally, it appears those currently seriously interested in the control problem are disproportionately sampled from one extreme end of the intelligence distribution" [p. 376]), suggests that his own pet project is the best way forward in philosophy and should be favored over other approaches ("We could postpone work on some of the eternal questions for a little while [...] in order to focus our own attention on a more pressing challenge: increasing the chance that we will actually have competent successors" [p. 315]), and ultimately claims that "reduction of existential risk" is humanity's principal moral priority (p. 320). Whereas most people would probably think that concern for the competence of our successors would push us towards making sure that the education we provide is both of high quality and widely available and that our currently existing and future children are well fed and taken care of, and that concern for existential risk would push us to fund action against poverty, disease, and environmental degradation, Bostrom and his buddies at their "extreme end of the intelligence distribution" think this money would be better spent funding fellowships for philosophers and AI researchers working on the "control problem". Because, if you really think about it, what of a millions of actual human lives cut short by hunger or disease or social disarray, when in some possible future the lives of 10^58 human emulations could be at stake? That the very idea of these emulations currently only exists in Bostrom's publications is no reason to ignore the enormous moral weight they should have in our moral reasoning!
Despite the criticism I've given above, the book isn't necessarily an uninteresting read. As a work of speculative futurology (is there any other kind?) or informed armchair philosophy of technology, it's not bad. But if you're looking for an evaluation of the possibilites and risks of AI that starts from our current state of knowledge - no magic allowed! - then this is definitely not the book for you.
Nick Bostrom spells out the dangers we potentially face from a rogue, or uncontrolled, superintelligences unequivocally: we’re doomed, probably.
This is a detailed and interesting book though 35% of the book is footnotes, bibliography and index. This should be a warning that it is not solely, or even primarily aimed at soft science readers. Interestingly a working knowledge of philosophy is more valuable in unpacking the most utility from this book than is knowledge about computer programming or science. But then you are not going to get a book on the existential threat of Thomas the Tank engine from the Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University.
Also a good understanding of economic theory would also help any reader.
Bostrom lays out in detail the two main paths to machine superintelligence: whole brain emulation and seed AI and then looks at the transition that would take place from smart narrow computing to super-computing and high machine intelligence.
At times the book is repetitive and keeps making the same point in slightly different scenarios. It was almost like he was just cut and shunting set phrases and terminology into slightly different ideas.
Overall it is an interesting and thought provoking book at whatever level the reader interacts with it, though the text would have been improved by more concrete examples so the reader can better flesh out the theories.
“Everything is vague to a degree you do not realise till you have tried to make it precise” the book quotes.
The one area in which I feel Nick Bostrom's sense of balance wavers is in extrapolating humanity's galactic endowment into an unlimited and eternal capture of the universe's bounty. As Robert Zubrin lays out in his book Entering Space: Creating a Space-Faring Civilization , it is highly unlikely that there are no interstellar species in the Milky Way: if/when we (or our AI offspring!) develop that far we will most likely join a club.
The abolition of sadness , a recent novella by Walter Balerno is a tightly drawn, focused sci fi/whodunit showcasing exactly Nick Bostrom's point. Once you start it pulls you in and down, as characters develop and certainties melt: when the end comes the end has already happened...