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Stephen Hawking On Genetic Engineering vs. AI

timothy posted about 13 years ago | from the one-to-talk dept.

Science 329

Pointing to this story on Ananova, bl968 writes: "Stephen Hawking the noted physicist has suggested using genetic engineering and biomechanical interfaces to computers in order to make possible a direct connection between brain and computers, 'so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than opposing it.' His idea is that with artificial intelligence and computers, which increase their performance every 18 months, we face the real possibility of the enslavement of the human race." garren_bagley adds this link to a similar story on Yahoo!, unfortunately just as short. Hawking certainly is in a position shared by few to talk about the intersection of human intellect and technology.

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w00t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243908)

w00t to my h0miez
2002

Stephen Hawking, physicist, dead at 54 (-1)

buttfucker2000 (240799) | about 13 years ago | (#2243912)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Physicist/author Stephen Hawking was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Turly an American icon.

Re:Stephen Hawking, physicist, dead at 54 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243984)


Louis Armstrong, trumpet player and Jazz pioneer, died yesterday morning in his Los Angeles home. He was 71. Armstrong's last performance was at James Madison University's Convocation Center on March 24, 2001, where he played to a standing room only crowd of 5,000. Armstrong was helped off the stage by his wife of 20 years, and he later told a reporter for the campus newspaper "I don't know how much longer I can do this. This may be one of my last shows." His final song was his biggest hit, Hello Dolly! He is survived by his wife, 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

black holes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243913)

he just wants us to build a giant robot exoskelleton for him so he can take over the world.

Re:black holes (1)

Katan (104699) | about 13 years ago | (#2243963)

I think we'd want that...then we'd have time travel, and interstellar rockets and..and...Borg..

I can just imagine... (5, Funny)

Naerbnic (123002) | about 13 years ago | (#2243915)

"As we start this yearly meeting of the... BZZZZT! General Protection Fault! Please press both cheeks and forehead to reset..."

Re:I can just imagine... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243992)





This is a sad, sad day for the slashdot community ...

GOATSE GUY, dead at 79.

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

There's a tear in my beer tonight, brother. God rest ye well, sweet Goatse Guy. Truly an american icon.

qv also: http://www.ciar.org/~ttk/techsing/ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244083)



I keep a bunch of articles and other documents of topics related to this article's here:

http://www.ciar.org/~ttk/techsing/ [ciar.org]

ge is unsafe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243916)

http://www.truefoodnow.org/

untested and bad....

neuron microchips (1)

turtledawn (149719) | about 13 years ago | (#2243917)

perhaps when those neuron microchips are developed, they could serve as the interface device?

YAY! (-1)

JoeLinux (20366) | about 13 years ago | (#2243923)

Go Enslavement! Er...wait. That's bad. Seriously though, if he thinks that geeks from around the world would line up to get their brains enhanced just to remain superior. Oh wait...they would, huh? I mean, I would at least. Imagine: "I just upgraded to libbrain.2.1.so" Segfaults could have catastrophic reprecussions: "libbowels.3.2.so caused a dump while running sexd". Hmm....could go both ways. For that matter, so does my ex-girlfriend. Oh well. Life moves on.

JoeLinux

All things are possible, save Skiing through a revolving door

Re:YAY! (-1)

buttfucker2000 (240799) | about 13 years ago | (#2244026)

Segfaults could have catastrophic reprecussions: "libbowels.3.2.so caused a dump while running sexd".

What's so catastrophic about that? I do it all the time.

Congrats, Stephan... (0, Interesting)

glenebob (414078) | about 13 years ago | (#2243924)

...you have just corrupted the Borg.

Enslavement, huh... Now how does giving a computer direct control over your intelligence provide less of a chance of enslavement than AI? You could be a slave and not even know it.

Wow. (-1, Flamebait)

theRhinoceros (201323) | about 13 years ago | (#2243926)

Guess it goes to show that even people who are uber-geniuses in one field are not immune to laughable ignorance in others.

ge gives corperations more power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243927)

they are already too powerful. more powerful than people. they own the government. they will soon own you.
i want to be free from corporate control..
freedom//liberty//anarchy

Re:ge gives corperations more power (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | about 13 years ago | (#2244020)

The first thing you can do is learn how to spell, you filthy kike. Then you can teach the niggers.

I like him... (-1, Troll)

manon (112081) | about 13 years ago | (#2243930)

...but isn't this a bit of self-interest?

The Red Pill... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243931)

First Matrix Post!

He should know. (5, Funny)

Faux_Pseudo (141152) | about 13 years ago | (#2243936)

He is the poster child for this kind of research..
When Hawking says that we shouldn't modify humans with technolagy he speeks not from some higher than thou purch but from the viewpoint of a someone who is alive today because of the magic of human and tech mingleing..
.
On a funny note does any one know where I can get an mp3 of him saying these things?.
The first time I did acid I was listening to the audio version of "Brief History".
Don't try that at home..
(synth voice).
(acid).
Inside a black hole "You would be crushed like spaghetti".
(/acid).
(/synth voice)(reality check = bounce)

Re:He should know. (1)

JoeLinux (20366) | about 13 years ago | (#2243939)

If you get the IBM Viavoice libraries, and run ESD, I have made a program that will use the libraries to "speak" his voice. Email me after you've installed it, and I'll get it to you.

JoeLinux

New from MS: A-Synchronous Sequential Random Access Memory. Not that everyone isn't getting an ASS-RAM from MS anyway.

Re:He should know. (1)

chrisvdp74656 (448900) | about 13 years ago | (#2243972)

Got the libs and ESD. Mind if you send me a copy of the program? My email shouldn't be too hard to figure out... :)

Chris

You can get the mp3s at (1)

afflatus_com (121694) | about 13 years ago | (#2244065)


...MC Hawking's crib:

www.mchawking.com [mchawking.com]

I strongly recommend "Entropy" from MCHawking's mad-phat "A Brief History of Rhyme" LP. Can download the free mp3 from mchawking.com or the MC Hawking section at mp3.com [mp3s.com]

Re:He should know. (3, Informative)

Viadd (173388) | about 13 years ago | (#2244075)

MP3s of Hawking are at
[mchawking.com]
M.C. Hawking's Crib [http://www.mchawking.com]
including tracks from "A Brief History of Rhyme" and singles such as "Why Won't Jesse Helms Just Hurry Up And Die? "

Re:He should know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244091)

i dont know about audio of him making this particular speech, but hop on your favorite gnutella client, and do a search for 'hawking cambridge lectures' and you will find a good semester's worth of lectures by him. fascinating once you get past the voice synthesis.

Re:He should know. (1)

captaineo (87164) | about 13 years ago | (#2244115)

On a funny note does any one know where I can get an mp3 of him saying these things?.

Check out his rap albums - http://www.mchawking.com/music.html [mchawking.com] . You definitely shouldn't miss "F*ck the Creationists."

morals (4, Insightful)

swagr (244747) | about 13 years ago | (#2243945)

Most intelligent philosophers or game theorists will point out that what we call "moral behaivour" is actually self serving. (prisoners dillema and tit-for-tat strategy). Basically, we aren't capable enough to eccomplish what we want without the help of others, and most things in life aren't zero sum games (you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours and we're both better off). It's quite possible that an advanced intelligence might not need us humans to accomplish what it wants, and hence have to requirement for what we call morals.

Yikes.

Re:morals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244120)

But if you think most things aren't zero sum, then it is a 50/50% thing if advanced intelligence will need us or not -- with entropy and resistance factors involved, I don't have anything to worry about then.

"stop pressing the reset button, it's not funny."

When a gaming habit goes too far (2, Funny)

Nick Number (447026) | about 13 years ago | (#2243948)

"Stephen Hawking the noted physicist has suggested using genetic engineering and biomechanical interfaces to computers in order to make possible a direct connection between brain and computers

Aha, so that's how he got to be such a Quake master [mchawking.com] .

His other work. (0, Redundant)

Uruk (4907) | about 13 years ago | (#2243949)

Check out his groundbreaking rap work as well! at MC Hawking.com [mchawking.com]

Enslavement? (5, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 13 years ago | (#2243951)

"So the danger is real that they could develop intelligence and take over the world."

What a crock. The slave system is purely a human one. How or why a machine would pick up one of the worst human behavoirs is simple called watching too much sci-fi and being paranoid. Ambition is also a human drive, if the promise of a Lt. Com. Data type AI comes around it will have very different drives than your typical 17th century empire.

Re:Enslavement? (2, Informative)

Kwil (53679) | about 13 years ago | (#2243983)

What's all this talk about enslavement? Hawking didn't mention that in either article. I don't follow how "take over the world" == "enslave the human race"

It could just as easily mean destroy the human race, or it could simply mean to take control of the world, as in, computers running everything, leaving us humans to sit back on our asses and enjoy the fruits of their labours.

Hell, humanity might become the equivalent of the computers' pets, and as far as I'm concerned, that's not a bad thing. All my cat does is eat sleep, and play - how often I wished I had that lifestyle.

Kwil

Re:Enslavement? (2)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 13 years ago | (#2243989)

Enslavement came from the initial post. Hawkins himself calls the possibility of taking over the world a "danger." In that context I don't think we should be breaking out the catnip yet.

Re:Enslavement? (1)

MasterOfDisaster (248401) | about 13 years ago | (#2243988)

Do you have proof to back this up?
If we make 'em, and they get smarter then us, chances are, they'll behave the way we tought em.
Also, rember, systems go from a state of order to disorder, not the other way around. I think this applys to Humans and AI's as much as it does to anything else. (Meaning that people are intrinsicly what you might call "evil")

Re:Enslavement? (2, Insightful)

glenebob (414078) | about 13 years ago | (#2244000)

We also don't make very good slaves. We bitch and whine and require lots of food and constant attention to make sure we're doing the master's bidding. We're high-maintenance and inefficient. We're lazy. Which is why we were the ones to come up with enslavement in the first place. Oh, and also why we invented computers... hell, it's why technology exists at all.

An intelligent robot would make a much better slave than any human. If intelligent computers decide having slaves is a good way to go, why would they choose us? Why wouldn't they choose other computers?

We also wouldn't make good batteries (ala The Matrix). So what would we be good for? Nothing! We wouldn't be slaves, we'd be dead.

Re:Enslavement? (2, Interesting)

uchian (454825) | about 13 years ago | (#2244008)

The slave system is purely a human one. How or why a machine would pick up one of the worst human behavoirs is simple called watching too much sci-fi and being paranoid

Unfortunateley, if you where to direct someone to do what is best for themselves, you would get a slave system - you see, it's this human trait called selfishness which is why the rich don't see why they should give to the poor, and why your everyday person doesn't give money to begging homeless people. Because it doesn't help number one.

Thing is, most people look after themselves - the only time they look after other people is when it is in there own interests to do so, either because it makes them feel bad to think they haven;t, or becase they expect to gain from it in the long run - human nature's like that, you see.

There is no reason whatsoever why computers shouldn't be any different. They are programmed by us, so they will be like us unless either a) we don't understand them enough to program them with what happens to be the majority of humanities values, or b), we make them so intelligent that they see our values for the self obsessed values that they are, and choose to ignore them.

And don't try telling me that you do things for other people because "it's the right thing to do" you fo them because doing so makes you feel good. However we look at it, everything that the majority of humanity ever does is selfish.

Yes, but aren't humans the creators? (1)

OS24Ever (245667) | about 13 years ago | (#2244010)

If, by chance, the programmers have any type of ego they are going to program their tendancies into said AI, and that would be how an AI could get the emotions such as ambition.

You can't just dismiss the idea that AI can turn away from humankind's best interets. There are lots of things we've created for altruistic tendancies that turned out to have 'side effects' that damage humans, the environment, or could be perverted into something not originally intended for...

Re:Yes, but aren't humans the creators? (1)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | about 13 years ago | (#2244112)

they are going to program their tendancies into said AI

Oh God, they will force us all onto giant chess boards while they manipulate us and watch us battle to the death from afar. Our only break from the torture will be when the machines -ALT- -TAB- out to examine their massive porn collections.

Re:Enslavement? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244057)

Watch less Star Trek, read more biology and history. I have a vague recollection of some hive dwelling insects practicing "slavery", losers of a "war" being forced to labor for winners. Ambition a human drive, that's laughable, much of human ambition derives from mate selection and passing on or protecting one's genetic material. When AI comes into existence it probably won't resemble Star Trek or Asimov fantasies. Benevolence does not necessarily follow intelligence, real or artificial. Human intelligence evolved to match our environment and/or function, an artificial intelligence may do so also. AIs may be creatures of the environments we put them in and the functions we have them perform. I don't think there is anything special or magical about an intelligence housed in metal/plastic compared to an intelligence housed in meat.

Re:Enslavement? (3, Funny)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | about 13 years ago | (#2244098)

Enslavement, bah, that happened decades ago with the invention of the alarm clock.

Re:Enslavement? (2)

smallpaul (65919) | about 13 years ago | (#2244109)

What a crock. The slave system is purely a human one. How or why a machine would pick up one of the worst human behavoirs is simple called watching too much sci-fi and being paranoid.

Computers will pick up whatever behaviours we program that with. Maybe there will be beneficial AIs and malevalent AIs created to serve good people and bad people. I dunno. Either way, I'd rather not be in the crossfire of perfectly self-replicating consciousnesses with perfect memory and carefully engineered (as opposed to evolved) bodies.

Ambition is also a human drive, if the promise of a Lt. Com. Data type AI comes around it will have very different drives than your typical 17th century empire.

If we can't predict those drives, isn't that a cause for worry?

mchawking anyone? (0, Redundant)

gimpboy (34912) | about 13 years ago | (#2243954)

don't forget that astrophysics isn't the only way he makes money. there is also mc hawking the gangsta' wrapper [mchawking.com] . i really like the entropy song.

I can just see the negative effects of this; (3, Funny)

James Skarzinskas (518966) | about 13 years ago | (#2243958)

In the most intimate of moments: Excuse me for a moment! Another one of those darned X-10 web cam advertisements just came to my mind!

*physics is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243962)

/. sucks!

who cares?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243964)

Just look at this guy for a second before you trust anything he has to say. HE'S A DROOLING, RETARDED MONGO!! What are you going to do for a story next?? Go to the Special Olympics and ask the competetors for their opinions on the DMCA??

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a racist or a bigot or anything like that. I just think that retards should have a place in society, but that place shouldn't be close to where I live. Maybe we can create an island or something and ship all of these wierdos off??

PLANET OF THE MONGOS. Heh.

SHUT THE HELL UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243973)

My 19 yr old sister is retarded but she's 10000x smarter than you, mother fucking cock sucking shit eating maggot licking butt sniffing homo. Wake up man, these are the 90's. You can't go around talking this shit about a group of people. If you do this in public you'll get your ass kicked.

Re:SHUT THE HELL UP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244034)

hey smart guy, this isnt the 90s, you dumb fucking retarded idiot

It's a ruse (3, Insightful)

segfault7375 (135849) | about 13 years ago | (#2243965)

I think he's just angling for some funding for his latest evil plan:

http://www.theonion.com/onion3123/hawkingexo.html [theonion.com]

For the goats.cx wary:
http://www.theonion.com/onion3123/hawkingexo.htm l

GOATSE man - dead at 79 - *sniff* (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243966)



I'm both embarassed and proud to post this -

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

Even if you didn't appreciate his work, you've probably clicked on his link. Truly an American icon.

Hawking Is Wrong About Intelligence (1, Flamebait)

Louis Savain (65843) | about 13 years ago | (#2243967)

The truth of the matter is that intelligence is driven by motivation. A super intelligent system that is conditioned from the start to derive pleasure from obeying humans and to have an aversion to anything that brings harm to humans will not go against its conditioning. It will not want ot. This is what psychology and advances in bio-neurological research have taught us in the last one hundred years. The idea that an intelligent machine will necessarily enslave humanity is pure hogwash. Hawking is just the latest crackpot (Bill Joy and Vernor Vinge) to make pronouncements regarding the supposed threat of AI to humanity.

Now it does not suprise me one bit that Hawking would come up with such cockamamie nonsense. This is the same guy who claims on his site that relativity does not forbid time travel. I think Hawking should stick to his Star-Trek voodoo physics and leave AI to people who know what they're talking about.

Re:Hawking Is Wrong About Intelligence (1)

gorf (182301) | about 13 years ago | (#2244031)

Only if we get the conditioning right. How many children obey their parents? If we can't even get that right...

Re:Hawking Is Wrong About Intelligence (1)

3seas (184403) | about 13 years ago | (#2244039)

"[ai]....to have an aversion to anything that brings harm to humans will not go against its conditioning."

Are you saying that it won't let humans do all the harmful things they do to each other?

Re:Hawking Is Wrong About Intelligence (0)

GaCRuX (324607) | about 13 years ago | (#2244041)

wow. I'm glad I don't have mod points. I would be torn between "troll" and "flamebait".
has anyone else noticed how elaborate this troll is? he's even put up a web page, and linked it from his sig. LOL

Re:Hawking Is Wrong About Intelligence (2, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 13 years ago | (#2244043)

"Now it does not suprise me one bit that Hawking would come up with such cockamamie nonsense. This is the same guy who claims on his site that relativity does not forbid time travel. I think Hawking should stick to his Star-Trek voodoo physics ..."

Actually, I doubt you know enough about the frontiers of physics to say whether Hawking's ideas on time travel are "voodoo" or not. (This isn't a personal insult; there are very, very few people in the world who have that level of knowledge. I know I don't.) I think the more important point is that being brilliant in one field (e.g. physics) doesn't necessarily qualify you to make judgements in another (e.g. A.I.)

For example, James Randi has often pointed out that scientists are easily deceived by paranormal fakers -- because as scientists, they expect to be able to uncover the truth about strange situations, but the fakers are operating in the realm of stage magic rather than science, and most scientists simply don't know anything about stage magic. It takes a stage magician to see through the tricks.

As computers become more important to everyone's daily lives (and as much of they've done so already, I'm firmly convinced that we ain't seen nothin' yet) everyone will weigh in with their opinions on What It All Means. People like Hawking, who are used to being right about some pretty heavy-duty things, will naturally tend to believe themselves right about W.I.A.M. as well. They've got a right to their opinions, of course; the important thing is for the rest of us to treat their opinions as just that, and not words from on high.

Maybe so, but there's something to be said... (1)

JeremyYoung (226040) | about 13 years ago | (#2244048)

for being a borg drone... mmmm... borg implants...

Step 1: assume we get it right Step 2: assert same (2, Insightful)

Giant Hairy Spider (467310) | about 13 years ago | (#2244064)

The simplest and most obvious method to create an AI is to generate variations, test them competitively, delete the poor performers, and multiply the good performers.

Whatever criteria you use, there'll always be the possibility of it thinking outside the game, playing along because it recognizes this as necessary to survival and reproduction. If it's smarter than us, there'll be no way for us to know whether it recognizes a simulation, no way to recognize an infinite patience with the simple goal to be set free, to survive and reproduce in a larger system: the universe. If it's smarter than us, we'll have no way for us to know if it knew about the way inferior intelligences were destroyed, and whether it thought this was the natural order of things.

Re:Step 1: assume we get it right Step 2: assert s (2)

Louis Savain (65843) | about 13 years ago | (#2244102)

The simplest and most obvious method to create an AI is to generate variations, test them competitively, delete the poor performers, and multiply the good performers.

I disagree. The evolutionary method cannot possibly create an AI within the lifetimes of the experimenter. The number of variations is astronomical and our computers are too limited. The best you can hope for are a few limited domain toys.

The best way to create an animal-level AI is by reverse-engineering the only intelligent systems we know of, animal nervous systems. We don't need to understand every detail. We just need to understand the fundamental principles that can get billions of look-alike and work-alike cells to find the right connections and do the things they do. IOW, we need emulate various neuron types and the handful of cell assemblies of the animal brain. Neurobiologists have made excellent progress in this area, in the last few decades, and we can expect some real breakthroughs anytime.

Re:Hawking Is Wrong About Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244072)

Relativity doesn't forbid time travel. It is in inarguable fact that are plenty of solutions to the Einstein field equations that have closed timelike loops. Whether *our universe* forbids time travel is a different question.

Re:Hawking Is Wrong About Intelligence (-1, Troll)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | about 13 years ago | (#2244079)

Like your understanding of physics is so incredibly superior to his. I remember your sig URL from awhile back, which is unusual... only opinions and ideas so utterly ridiculous could make a lasting impression as did yours.

The truth of the matter, is that both you and he are wrong about time travel. You are so bigoted toward the idea, that you fail to realize the true implications of such a concept (though I am unsure as to why Hawking hasn't seen the truth to it).

If our universe were a simulation (and I leave it up to the reader to decide the truth of this, I use it only as an exmaple), and in this simulation a certain sim-person were to believe they built a time travel device and activated it, there is at least the possibility that it would behave as they might expect. Boom. All the sudden, the universe is as it was sim-years ago, with the notable exception of themselves. However, if the sim-person goes and murders his grandparents, does he pop out of existence? Dematerialize?

No.

He didn't really travel in time, rather the universe was "reset" to appear as if he had time traveled. The only consequences of his actions might be that a similar, but distinct sim-being isnt't born years in his relative future. In effect, he has either entered a seperate simulated universe remarkably similar to how his own was in its past, or he has drastically altered his own universe in a way that he interprets as time travel. No causality hocus-pocus is necessary (though other abracadabras might be needed). Big deal, either way, right?

And don't even get me started on why new age cretins who believe in reincarnation should be chopped up as fish bait.

Stephen King, author, dead at 54 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243968)


I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:Stephen King, author, dead at 54 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244027)



Bangor, MA. (AP) -- Stephen King was found dead in his basement in Bangor, Maine this afternoon at approximately 1PM EST. According to a coroner's preliminary report, it appeared that King had been dead since he released "Misery" in 1987. Cause of death has been listed as lack of credible writing talent complicated by over promotion. It is being reported that two days ago, King somehow signed a 2 year/6 book contract with an undisclosed publisher. A spokesperson for King stated that Dean Koontz will fulfill King's remaining contractual obligations. Fans should notice little difference.

Talk radio. Right. Uh-huh.

Re:Stephen King, author, dead at 54 (-1)

buttfucker2000 (240799) | about 13 years ago | (#2244061)

Here's [slashdot.org] the prime suspect.

Lameness filter encountered.
Your comment violated the postercomment compression filter. Comment aborted

Hawking is loosing his mental edge (2, Insightful)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | about 13 years ago | (#2243971)


Unless its an idle attempt at spurring genetic modification research, his assertions are flawed.

AI will probably never overtake humans in any intellectual endeavor, even if chip engineering goes down to the molecular level. The most sophisticated thinking computer is already in existence and he/she is reading this message right now. Living organisms have much more sophisticated neural circuitry and better reaction time than any silicon computer can hope to achieve. (Except perhaps in Quake. Mebbe Hawking is correct where it counts...)

So what if my calculator can figure out cubic roots to the 13th place faster and more accurately than I can hope to achieve? That's not intelligence or sentience. Any mega-cascade of logic gates is never going to beat out the efficiency of a patch of neurons.

Moore's "Law" is not a physical constant, and it will hit the wall when circuit engineering goes to quantum level. Kinda sad that Hawking doesn't realize it; good thing his bread & butter is in theoretical physics.

When neural net theory and biocircuitry engineering starts to approach organism level performance, that's when you should start sh*tting in your pants...

Re:Hawking is loosing his mental edge (2, Insightful)

HeghmoH (13204) | about 13 years ago | (#2244012)

Why do you think neurons are the best way to get the job done? The machinery with which we think was formed by a vast collection of random events. Evolution isn't directed and by no means produces the best. Take a look at the design of the eye, for example. It would be trivial to reroute the optic nerve to remove our blind spot, and this happened for some animals. Why not for us? It just never did, no reason beyond that. Lots of systems in our bodies are not as wonderful as they could be for a variety of reasons. We use neurons arranged the way they are because they work, not because they work in the best possible way.

Re:Hawking is loosing his mental edge (1)

metatruk (315048) | about 13 years ago | (#2244046)

Spelling check,

Losing, not loosing.

Re:Hawking is loosing his mental edge (2, Insightful)

darthBear (516970) | about 13 years ago | (#2244060)

So what if my calculator can figure out cubic roots to the 13th place faster and more accurately than I can hope to achieve? That's not intelligence or sentience. Any mega-cascade of logic gates is never going to beat out the efficiency of a patch of neurons. In essence all your neurons are are logic gates (not necessarily digital logic mind you), they are able to strengthen certain relationships based upon positive renforcent (or weaken for negative) ie. learn. This ability to strenthen and weaken relationships can and has been coded. Yes, todays programs are still more brittle and are outperformed by the human brain but give it 20 years.

One final point, a neuron is only capable of 200 calculations per second. Now imagine in 20 years a computer containing thousands of processors each capable of trillions of opperations per second. Right there the human brain is outperformed.

Re:Hawking is loosing his mental edge (2)

smallpaul (65919) | about 13 years ago | (#2244090)

Moore's "Law" is not a physical constant, and it will hit the wall when circuit engineering goes to quantum level.

What makes you think that the rapid improvement of computers will halt when we hit the physical limits of circuit engineering? There are other techniques as you mention yourself:

When neural net theory and biocircuitry engineering starts to approach organism level performance, that's when you should start sh*tting in your pants...

Hawking is worrying about the problem in advance of it being a direct threat. Doesn't that seem wise?

Re:Hawking is loosing his mental edge (2, Interesting)

bl968 (190792) | about 13 years ago | (#2244114)

In actuality, Alan Turing said "If a person was unable to tell the difference between a conversation with a machine and a human, then the machine could reasonably be described as intelligent." This is a very basic description of the Turing test [abelard.org] , which is a measure of the level of artificial intelligence of a computer system.

The Artificial Intelligence Enterprises located in Tel Aviv are working on a computer system [ananova.com] , which they hope will be able to be mistaken for a 5-year-old child. They claim to have made a breakthrough. It is just a short step from a 5-year-old child to a thinking adult. In addition, you must consider mental illness and even the potential for envy, greed, rage, and hatred once you reach that plateau

You can find more AI news at The Mining Co AI pages [miningco.com]

Kiss goodbye to humanity (1)

lordfetish (48651) | about 13 years ago | (#2243974)

Who cares? I always wanted to be a transformer since the age of 10 a anyway.

Neanderthals bit the bullet and then homo sapiens ruled the day and does so, albeit for a small period of time. Evolve or die. They will be faster and smarter than us, so what the fuck - let them make all the decisions.

Homo technicus or whatever nano-organism that comes after humanity will piss upon us from a great height - so where do I sign up to sell out humanity? Maybe they'll buy me off with some cool new hardware in exchange for betraying the human race! I'm sure that if AI ever gets going it will have evolved by accident from some GPL skunkworks project that gets accidentally released on the internet. Therefore posthumans should = more GPL and > hardware - slashdotters should support the notion of the end of hummanity by default surely!

Maybe I have been playing too much Deus Ex lately or perhaps it is because I happened to be watching the Terminator on TV a the moment.

Death to the fleshlings!

Who gives a fuck?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243975)


Seriously, he's a scientist not a philosohper. This is a bullshit story. Smarts does not mean wisdom.

Rest in peace, Goatse guy. Rest in peace.

Re:Who gives a fuck?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244007)


This isn't a troll, he make a good point. Lacking eloquence, yes, but I for one agree with him.

Moderation does NOT mean disagreement of opinion.

How about a Slashdot interview with Hawking? (3, Interesting)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | about 13 years ago | (#2243980)

Or has this already been done?

Re:How about a Slashdot interview with Hawking? (1)

jchodera (211652) | about 13 years ago | (#2244013)

Though this would be neat, we must remember that it takes Hawking a good deal of time to compose text, as anyone who has been to one of his talk and heard him answer questions from the audience can attest to. His time is likely better spent unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos.

Stephan Hawking (1)

Night0wl (251522) | about 13 years ago | (#2243985)

In case any of you didn't know, Stephan Hawkings is an advocate of Quake and loves it dearly. He's well known to kick some ass. Here's the audio-based proof for you all to enjoy. 3.1MB MP3.
Quake Master [neversleeps.org]

I am not the originator of this song, just the profit. And yes it's old.

Am I the only one? (5, Interesting)

Dave Rickey (229333) | about 13 years ago | (#2243990)

Am I the only person who looks at things like the new displays with laser projection onto the retina and immediately starts wishing he could buy a pair of glasses that would be a cross between Geordi Laforge vision (360 degree wraparound, with infra-red and light-amp enhancement, just for starters) and holo-projection of computer interfaces? In no more than 5 years, you'll be able to buy hardware like that (all the pieces exist, and they just need a little shrinking to be viable).

That's the ultimate projection of "Weak" cyborging, just a more advanced version of the optical aids I've had to wear since I was a child in order to have normal visual acuity. And frankly, the idea of taking the first step past that to "Strong" cyborging (the same thing, but wired to my optic nerve instead) doesn't bother me much. Nor does the idea of having a direct link of some sort to do math problems for me (just removing all the clunky limitations of a calculator).

In fact, I don't start getting uncomfortable about the idea of cyborging myself until we're talking about storing "memory" in there. Having a perfect recall of every line of code I've ever seen would be handy, but do I want to save a text conversion (or even full audio/video) of every conversation I ever had? Actually, probably I would, if I could, although I'd feel cautious at first.

I *want* to be a cyborg, in truth. My only bitch about the coming man-machine interfaces is that it's unlikely they'll find a way to turn my physical body into a disposable peripheral before it wears out on me. Why not? How is it any less natural to store a memory of what I see in silicon that I keep internally than to keep it on videotape? Give me a perfect memory, the ability to solve any mathematical problem I can define "in my head", the ability to "see" everything around me, or even tele-project my perceptions. I'll take all of it, and love it.

When will I cross the line from being a human using artificial aid to being a machine with biological components? Ask me in about 30 years. Maybe I'll still consider the question worth answering

--Dave Rickey

Sad News... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2243997)

I just heard some sad news on TV, apparently Slashdot website creator, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, was rushed to the hospital this afternoon after having his penis sliced off. Authorities say the accident involved Rob's penis, his computer, and an illegal computer device imported from China that was designed to stimulate the penis during cyber-sex. The authorities aren't releasing many details yet as to how it happened, but they suspect that the device malfunctioned which caused his penis to be sliced off. However, there is speculation among the Slashdot community that the Open Source Operating System "Linux" is to blame, for its faulty structure and lack of professional development. There is no word of whether there was any foul-play involved from hackers amongst the Linux community.

Eek! (1)

jchodera (211652) | about 13 years ago | (#2243999)

Steven Hawking is becoming Davros, evil creator of the Daleks!

Re:Eek! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244066)

No! What is happening to me? No! I AM NOT A DALEK!!! -- Davros when he released the Dalek virus.

I don't buy it. (2)

Giant Hairy Spider (467310) | about 13 years ago | (#2244011)

Genetically engineered creatures are no more human than artificial intelligences. Artifacts are artifacts, and not real life.

I wouldn't feel any better about tube-bred ubermensch consigning my grandchildren to "naturals" reservations than I would about rogue AI rendering them down for a few kilos of carbon. Either way is the end of a wild and free humanity, and to me that's no better than the end of the universe.

He may be a physicist, but he's no visionary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244016)

I wouldn't take his comments too seriously. A few well-placed EMP devices in the atmosphere would render machines inoperable. I also don't think it serves people to be any more connected to technology than they are - after all, socialization is part and parcel of the human experience. And honestly, I believe the fact that he's been in a wheelchair for so long has affected his outlook on life and AI and computing and their "convergence". Remember - over 90% of people on this planet don't have regular contact with anything more sophisticated than a telephone.

We Have Short Circuited Evolution (2, Interesting)

Ezubaric (464724) | about 13 years ago | (#2244017)

Apart from my desire to help mad scientists everywhere achieve their dreams, one of the major reasons I've taken the unpopular stance of encouraging genetic engineering is that, without artificial correction, we have stopped natural selection from working.

I agree with the need for society to provide safety nets for those who are less fortunate, but in our altruistic desire not to let people die, we have prevented less effective genotypes from leaving the gene pool. Moreover, those who are most well adapted, at least by our capitalistic socio-economic principles, tend to reproduce less often to prevent dilution of their money via inheritance - the true arbiter of success today (rather than genes).

In short, genetic engineering would allow the human race to progress much faster than it would normally - we don't have lines of women waiting to mate with the smartest and successful men (talking about the intersection, not the union - rich and stupid people breed enough). This is not a war against humans versus machines or morloks vs. eloi, but merely a reasonable means to continue "improving" the human race.

Prophetic Message (2, Insightful)

robbyjo (315601) | about 13 years ago | (#2244018)

My objection here is that problems to be solved with AI tends to be NP-complete. Current algorithm can solve it within exponential time. Computer speed growth is linear. Unless scientists provide better algorithms, we probably cannot solve these due time. Meanwhile we know that problems also grow.

It's not impossible, however. This message is rather prophetic, maybe true in 200+ years.

in other news... (1)

apwingo (233369) | about 13 years ago | (#2244021)

just think if he paired this with a robotic exoskeleton [theonion.com] ....

Stephen Hawking, the noted physicist... (0)

KupekKupoppo (266229) | about 13 years ago | (#2244028)

When also asked for comment, Stephen Hawking the Taco Bell drive-thru attendant replied, "don't be talkin' that shit to me, motherfucker."

There you have it. Back to you, Taco.

Hawking is a celebrity (2, Interesting)

PineGreen (446635) | about 13 years ago | (#2244030)


Hawking certainly is in a position shared by few to talk about the intersection of human intellect and technology.


Not really... Hawking is a scientific celeberity, which does not neccessarily meam that he is a good scientist, nor does it mean that he can speak about other fields of human endeavour.

Re:Hawking is a celebrity (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 13 years ago | (#2244071)

I agree. Hawking is a great physicist. That does not make him an expert on AI or anything else outside his field.

There are in fact many people far better suited to talk about this issue.

Re:Hawking is a celebrity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244076)

Hawking is both a scientific celebrity and a good scientist, and his whole professional and personal life has been molded around the intersection of human intellect and technology, due to a disease known as ALS.

Re:Hawking is a celebrity (1)

_Bean_ (128235) | about 13 years ago | (#2244107)

Perhaps it was a refernce to the fact that Hawking has ALS lives his life in a wheel chair, talks through a machine, etc. This does give him a first had perspective into the intersecion of human intellect and technology

This is the same thing (2, Interesting)

Pinball Wizard (161942) | about 13 years ago | (#2244049)

that Ray Kurzweil [kurzweilai.net] and Bill Joy [technetcast.com] have said.


Three of today's greatest scientists all agree - we are looking at a future where humans become cyborgs or else risk being a loser in the game of evolution.


We will gradually turn into machines - because economics will force us to in order to compete successfully. Those who don't will likely become slaves of those who do. Those that decide to enhance their lifespan and abilities through the use of computer enhancements will survive and thrive in the future.


Kurzweil actually takes this thought out to the point where we are just software - our DNA - and therefore can transfer the essence of our being from machine to machine once the tech is fully developed.


I notice a lot of /.ers disagree. Hmm...who do I believe, the greatest thinkers of our time or a bunch of /.ers? Yep, the future looks pretty scary(or bright, depending on your POV).

Re:This is the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2244084)


Three of today's greatest scientists


By a rather questionable definition of "scientist".


all agree


Yes, and how many hundreds of the world's greatest scientists don't agree? Frankenstein doomsday scenarios hit the headlines; people saying "don't worry, I don't think we're going to become cyborgs or get enslaved by machines" don't.


I notice a lot of /.ers disagree. Hmm...who do I believe, the greatest thinkers of our time or a bunch
of /.ers?


Many of the "greatest thinkers of our time" have made fools of themselves both inside and especially outside their own narrow fields. And having a good list of publications in any field doesn't magically enable one to predict the future.

Evolution (5, Funny)

Ezubaric (464724) | about 13 years ago | (#2244055)

Hawking probably never even said anything like this, and it's been blown out of proportion.

What Hawking said to the Cambridge flunky that delivered his new laptop:
This is four times more powerful than the one I just got three years ago. Too bad I'm not.

What Nature quoted:
Lucasian chair ponders the asymmetrical development of technology and biology in conference at Cambridge. Will computer's growth outpace that of humanity? For complete proceedings, send a check for five thousand pounds to . . .

What the London Times reported:
World's Smartest Man: Computers obey Moore's law - soon we'll obey computers.

What the Weekly World News claimed:
Mad Scientist in England has Designed Computer that will Enslave Humanity: Hawking 666

What the Onion published [theonion.com] .

Now Slashdot will find the truth . . . thank God for legitimate journalism!

As I sit here surrounded by a (2)

crovira (10242) | about 13 years ago | (#2244058)

fucking mess of cables, power bars and machines which show about as much REAL 'I' as their designers lack there of, I can tell you that we have such a LONG way to go before we get the the real "me" in intelligence that these kinds of discussions rank as sheer mental masturbation.

Read "The User Illusion" by Tor Nørretranders, smoke a joint and see that he's absolutely right about the .5 second gap between the "me" and the "I".

We have so far to go in creating intelligence, conscious or not, that this kind of crap is, uh, crap.

A few years ago (1)

jonnystiph (192687) | about 13 years ago | (#2244059)

One of the head honchos of Sun said something very similiar to the idea that computers could/would in the near future(10-20 years) enslave humans.

Quickly get to your knees and pray to your box.

Re:A few years ago (1)

Knobby (71829) | about 13 years ago | (#2244070)

Quickly get to your knees and pray to your box.

Not a bad idea! I wonder if she'll reciprocate and drop to her knees a little later?..

Your comment violated the postersubj compression f (2)

Remote (140616) | about 13 years ago | (#2244074)

The interface thing is just a matter of time.

Of course, machines can enslave humans. Those who think otherwise should think again. The current paradigm that computer behaviour has to be deterministic will certainly change. Any creature above a cetain intelligence level can conceive that, given the motivation and circumstances, hard-coded basic directives can be overriden. It doesn't have to be taht complicated either: machines can be "programmed" to enslave all but their "lords", or at least try to.

But what if GMO's, or GMH's (humans) are developed to enough of an intelligence level so as to be much more capable than such machines? Wouldn't these new "humans" be subjected to the temptation of ruling over us? Think about it. If a creature twice as intelligent as you wants to screw you, no matter how strong or wealthy you are, it will.

Who would be the selected ones? Those holding the patents would choose, right? Does that smell good? Not to me. As much as I love scientific progress (and I do), messing with human genetics is a recipe for disaster. Maybe that's an unavoidable step in any race's evolution, painful as it may prove to be. But the amount of power such things are about to unleash (it won't take long, I think) coupled with economic interests may well do more harm than good.

Why does it need be like that? Quite often I ask God why did He dump me on this planet... Am I supposed to rescue this race? Give me the tools, damn it!

Sorry for the rant, sorry for the emulation of English.

CmdrTaco: Lame post my ass!

Hawking isn't the only one. (3, Insightful)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about 13 years ago | (#2244081)

It should be pointed out that Hawkings is not the only one to advance the notion that human intelligence may be superceded by machine intelligence sometime in the future. This idea was also put forth by Hans Moravec, in his book Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. Moravec's arguments tend to gloss over the details, however, and from all appearances so do Hawkings'.

The simple fact is that processor power alone isn't going to create a machine intelligence of superhuman capacity. It has to be a particular kind of processor power that executes neural network type calculations extremely quickly, and there has to be a lot of 'em. Even this wouldn't be enough; the research time it would take to figure out the right set of preconditions probably runs into the hundreds of years.

Now, I'm making a couple of assumptions here. One is, that a superhuman intelligence would have to exhibit the same basic characteristics and flexibility as human intelligence; and two, that a neural net type algorithm is the best way to do this. (At the very least, it's the second best. :)) I might be wrong on both counts; one might be able to create enslaveware[1 [slashdot.org] ] with some much simpler design that nobody's thought of yet. It might not even be required that the enslaveware be intelligent; just somehow able to manipulate people.

Either way, I suspect that Hawkings' fears are unfounded.

1 That is, software that enslaves humanity, through active malevolence on the part of the software. Although I suppose this term could more broadly apply to any software that enslaves the user, e.g., WindowsXP.

The Stephen Hawking Dance!! (-1)

egg troll (515396) | about 13 years ago | (#2244087)

Go check out the Stephen Hawking Dance! [hecklers.com]


And when you see it, don't laugh and then boo me, like I farted during an audience with the Pope.

Hmm... AI better than humans? (1)

exceed (518714) | about 13 years ago | (#2244088)

"In contrast with our intellect, computers double their performance every 18 months. . ."

Computers double their performance every eighteen months because humans work on them to make them better.

How can something designed, programmed, and worked on hard by humans become better than the capacity of the human(s)' mind/intelligence that designed it?

Why I wouldn't expect a AI dominated world (2)

dragons_flight (515217) | about 13 years ago | (#2244113)

If we assume that the brain and intelligence are just the realization of some physical process, and there is nothing spooky about it, then it's not unreasonable to expect that some form of AI might arrise that's our intellectual equal or better.

Naturally you'd expect it to be far better than humans at the kinds of math and logic that computers were originally designed for. In fact many tasks would be much simplified for it, because we know of ways to design fast functionality for that machine now. Perhaps an intelligence sitting on a desk, processing internet info could be powerful, speak in natural language and monitor video cameras, etc. The problem is that in order to grow in the fashion of humans it would have to have expereinces similar to ours.

This means moving about and interacting with the environment. If we imagine someone like Star Trek's Data then this is feasible but the rate at which it gathers real world information is still limited. You can speed it up over what we achieve and eliminate inefficiency but not a lot faster than humans can do things. Even supposing a network of automatons connecting to a central intelligence, the amount of overhead is large for the gain in information. The fact of the matter is that the real physical world doesn't operate at computer speeds.

This alone wouldn't stop machines from being very powerful. The other important point to make is redunancy and failure tolerance. Simply put very few mechanically constructed systems are good at this. By contrast biological systems are exceptionally good, having simply mechanism to repair themselves. People wear out after about 70 years. It's rare for any machine to operate continuously for even 10 years, and those that do typically have very few moving parts. An android or even a system of cameras and such will have moving parts.

Perhaps infrastructure could be built to provide machine intelligence with regular replacements for parts that suffer from wear and tear. However this would establish (at least in the beggining) a level of symbiosis between man and machine. Perhaps they would strive for complete autonomy but I think we'd notice long before they became a threat of displacing us. There are after all lots and lots of people involved in any process that starts with raw minerals and ends up with advanced machinery. It's hard to compete with the versatility of eating food for power and regeneration.

Any designer of AI has a lot of effort ahead to match the design characteristics of biological organism. Further to duplicate the abilities we possess from experiential learning the machine will still be limited to the native speed of the experience.

The more likely scenario in my mind is that we develop greater integration between man and machine. If you notice, the most competent people in the modern world tend to exhibit a high dependance on computers and gadgets already. Perhaps nueral interfaces or some other merger of silicon and flesh will happen. Or we might end up in a world where everyone carries a pocket size computer that learns and thinks on its own, while doubling as a cell phone, PDA, and everything else. Such an AI would be in a symbiotic relationship with man.

Someday if full AI emerges and it gains the characteristics of emotion and removes the limits of initial programming, then I hope we can learn to be friends. There is no reason they couldn't be our partners in life, especially if we provide what they need and they help us gain the information we desire.

euh... (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | about 13 years ago | (#2244117)

'so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than opposing it.'
I can't see how interaction would make AI less dangerous than "stand-alone". I mean, if both are connected, isn't the mind of the human also at risk of being "0wned"?

Besides, if an artificial intelligence would become as powerful or even more than a human, would that be a threat of some sort? An AI would only become a threat if they where programmed incorrectly or without any moral judgement. And we aren't that stupid, are we?

Good morning Doctor Chandra. This is Hal. I am ready for my first lesson today...

Vernor Vinge and Human/AI chess tournaments (5, Interesting)

TheFrood (163934) | about 13 years ago | (#2244118)

The first person I heard put forth this idea was Vernor Vinge, the SF writer who also came up with the idea of the Singularity (the point where the pace of technological advance becomes so fast that it's impossible to predict what happens afterward.) He referred to the concept of linking human minds to computers as "Intelligence Amplification," abbreviated IA.

Vinge suggested that IA research could be spurred by having an annual chess tournament for human/computer teams. This doesn't even require cyborg-type implants; it could be started today, simply by having the human players use a terminal to access their computers. The idea would be to set up a system that harnesses the intuition/insight/nonlinear-thinking of the human and supplements it with the raw computing power of the machine (perhaps by letting the human "try out" various moves on the computer and having the computer project the likely future positions 10 or so moves ahead.) In theory, a human-computer team should be able to trounce any existing coputer program or any human playing alone.

TheFrood

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