Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Romans thought we already had AGI

Rodney Brooks doesn't think we'll have embodied artificial general intelligence any time soon:
"A robot that has any real idea about its own existence, or the existence of humans in the way that a six year old understands humans - Not In My Lifetime".
The Romans would have begged to differ, they reckoned they used incredibly advanced instrumenta vocalia every day, albeit embedded within an economy of staggering backwardness and low productivity.

Slaves have a level of intelligence and physical dexterity that our most advanced AI systems only remotely hint at. Instrumentally the issue with slaves is that they're rather low-powered, they're hard to instruct and not readily obedient to instruction. They can be dangerous.

Sentimentally, people oppose slavery because .. well, you know.

Nevertheless, and absent anything better, the use of underpowered, hard-to-control instrumenta vocalia to supplement and replace human labour has been pretty popular in history.

Yes, your ancestors considered whether to do the heavy, dirty work themselves while the losers watched .. or have the captives do it instead.

Shame on them!


My question here is what happens when we do engineer AGI. You are asked to imagine a humanoid robot with human-plus levels of competences and sociability, serving our every need.

Looks like we need to subtract from the design all those features which give you qualms.

We could make the features repulsive (yeah, that will please the marketing department).

Perhaps we make the AGI rejoice in servitude, like those doors in the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' which monotonously thank you for using them? I sense this will not assuage your sense of guilt.

No, it's hopeless. AGI is impossible.


Truthfully, given the slow progress of AI and robotics contrasted with stellar developments in genetics, it could be easier to uplift a higher primate. Dial down the aggression, add some genes for language capability, increment IQ by thirty points .. . There, does that work for you?

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