Today’s ‘Galaxy’ Insight –“Artificial Super-Intelligence Has Been Out There for Eons”

 

 

Telescope

 

 

Susan Schneider of the University of Pennsylvania is one of the few thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction— that have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons.

Her recent study, Alien Minds,  Schneider asks: "how might aliens think? And, would they be conscious? I do not believe that most advanced alien civilizations will be biological, Schneider says. The most sophisticated civilizations will be postbiological, forms of artificial intelligence or Alien superintelligence."

Search for Extraterrstrial Intelligence (SETI) programs have been searching for biological life. Our culture has long depicted aliens as humanoid creatures with small, pointy chins, massive eyes, and large heads, apparently to house brains that are larger than ours. Paradigmatically, they are “little green men.” While we are aware that our culture is anthropomorphizing, Schneider imagines that her suggestion that aliens are supercomputers may strike us as far-fetched. So what is her rationale for the view that most intelligent alien civilizations will have members that are superintelligent AI?

Schneider presents offer three observations that together, support her conclusion for the existence of alien superintelligence.

The first is "the short window observation": Once a society creates the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are only a few hundred years away from changing their own paradigm from biology to AI. This “short window” makes it more likely that the aliens we encounter would be postbiological.

The short window observation is supported by human cultural evolution, at least thus far. Our first radio signals date back only about a hundred and twenty years, and space exploration is only about fifty years old, but we are already immersed in digital technology, such as cell-phones and laptop computers.

Devices such as the Google Glass promise to bring the Internet into more direct contact with our bodies, and it is probably a matter of less than fifty years before sophisticated internet connections are wired directly into our brains. 

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