The Coming Intelligence Explosion

The Singularity institute has a post describing what it calls the upcoming “inteligence explosion.” The concept is that once we learn to start modifying the brain to make ourselves smarter we get a positive feedback loop — more intelligence gives us the ability to construct a better human/brain interface, which makes us smarter, which makes us able to construct a better human/brain interface, and so on.

Where will it lead? There is a difficulty here which I can’t help but notice — allow me a digression. An animal like a giraffe does not evolve simply by natural selecting creatures with slightly longer necks. As the neck extends, a number of mechanisms must simultaneously evolve to deal with the increasing blood pressure. I can’t help but wonder if simply extending our intelligence might be as disasterous as simply extending the neck of the giraffe. Will it increase at the expense of our sanity? Will we re-create ourselves as ultra intelligent but psychotic entities — reminiscent of Lovecraft’s Elder Gods? Or will we manage a slow and careful progress that will accomodate the changes. (Of course, there’s at least one sf story idea here, with lots of juicy references to the Tower of Babel)

All this brings to mind Frank Tipler’s “Cosmological SIngularity,” and will be debating this topic on June 3. I did not realize Tipler was just down the road from me at Tulane. If I weren’t going on vacation that week I would attend.

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