This is the third post in a series of posts on Nilsson’s book, Understanding Beliefs. Nils J. Nilsson, a true genius who is one of the founders of artificial intelligence, recommends the scientific method, as the scientific method is the primary reason underlying the progress humans have made in the past several centuries. We know from previous healthy memory blog posts that beliefs are difficult to change. Yet we inhabit an environment in which there is ongoing dynamic change. Moreover, modern technology accelerates the amount of information that is being processed and the amount of change that occurs.
The immediately preceding healthy memory post, “Revising Beliefs,” expressed extreme skepticism that there was sufficient sophistication among the public to implement the scientific method on a large scale in the political arena. Suppose this is indeed the case. Suppose the world will be characterized by increasing polarization so that little or no progress can be made. What is a possible remedy?
Here I wish that Nils J. Nilsson would write a second book on how technology, in the lingo of the healthy memory blog transitive memory, might be used to address this problem. During the Cold War there was a movie, Collosus: The Forbin Project. At this time there was a realistic fear that a nuclear exchange could occur between the United States and the Soviet Union that would obliterate life on earth. In the movie the United States has built a complex sophisticated computer, the Collosus to manage the country’s defenses in the event of a nuclear war. Shortly after Collosus becomes operational it establishes contact with a similar computer built by the Soviet Union. These two systems agree that humans are not intelligent enough to manage their own affairs, so they eventually take control of the world.
Perhaps we are not intelligent enough to govern and we need to turn the job over to computers. Kurzweil has us becoming one with silicon in his Singularity, so we would be as intelligent as computers. Suppose, however, that computers were infected with human frailties. In Bill Joy’s the World Without Us, we are eliminated by intelligent machines. But perhaps he is projecting human desires on computers. Perhaps they would be motivated to dominate, but rather to assist. Or perhaps this feature would be incorporated by AI developers offering this solution to a country or the world, locked in gridlock.
So here is my plea to AI researchers and Sci-fi authors. Please take this concept and run with it.
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