Silicon Valley confronts the singularity

Silicon Valley confronts the singularity

For decades, Silicon Valley anticipated the moment a new technology would come along and change everything. It will unite man and machine, perhaps for better but possibly for worse, and divide history. Earlier And Afterwards,

Name of this milestone: Singularity.

This can happen in many ways. One possibility is that people will add the processing power of computers to their innate intelligence, becoming supercharged versions of themselves. Or maybe computers become so complex that they can actually think, creating a global brain.

In any case, the resulting changes will be drastic, exponential and irreversible. A self-aware extraterrestrial machine could design its own improvements faster than any group of scientists could, leading to an explosion in intelligence. Progression of centuries can happen in years or even months. The Singularity is a catapult into the future.

Artificial intelligence is rowing technology, business and politics like nothing in recent memory. Listen to the extravagant claims and wild claims being issued from Silicon Valley, and it seems that the long-promised virtual paradise is finally at hand.

Google’s usually low-key chief executive Sundar Pichai calls artificial intelligence “deeper than fire or lightning Or anything we’ve done in the past. “The power to make positive change in the world is about to get its biggest boost ever,” says Reid Hoffman, a billionaire investor. and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announces AI “Will transform the way people work, learn, travel, receive health care, and communicate with each other.”

AI is Silicon Valley’s latest new product rollout: excellence on demand.

But there is a dark twist. It’s like tech companies introducing self-driving cars with the caveat that they might blow up before you even get to Walmart.

Elon Musk, who runs Twitter and Tesla, said, “The advent of artificial general intelligence is called a singularity because it is so hard to predict what will happen after that.” told CNBC last month, He said he thought an “Age of Abundance” would come but there was “some possibility” that it would “destroy humanity.”

The biggest cheerleader for AI in the tech community is Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the start-up that inspired the current craze with its ChatGPT chatbot. He says AI will be “the biggest force for economic empowerment and many people are getting rich Have we ever seen

But he also says that AI critics Mr. Musk, who also started a company to develop brain-computer interfaces, may be right.

The apocalypse is also familiar, beloved territory for Silicon Valley. A few years ago, it seemed like every tech executive had a fully stocked apocalypse bunker somewhere remote but accessible. In 2016, Mr. Altman said he wanted “guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, gas masks from the Israeli Defense Force and a huge patch of land in Big Sur I could fly to.” For a while, the coronavirus pandemic made tech preppers feel right.

Now, they’re preparing for the Singularity.

“They like to think they are wise men making sage comments, but they sound like monks in the year 1000 talking about the Rapture,” Baldur Bjarsson said.illusion of intelligence“A Critical Examination of AI “It’s a little scary,” he said.

The intellectual roots of the Singularity go back to John von Neumann, a pioneering computer scientist, who in the 1950s talked about how “the relentless pace of technology” had yielded “some essential Singularity in the history of the race”. Will be

British mathematician Irving John Goode, who helped decode the German Enigma device at Bletchley Park during World War II, was also an influential proponent. “Man’s survival depends on the early creation of a super-intelligent machine,” he wrote in 1964, Director Stanley Kubrick consulted Mr. Good about HAL, the mild-mannered-malevolent computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey”—an early example of the porous boundaries between computer science and science fiction.

Hans Moravec, an assistant professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, thought AI would not only be a boon to the living: The dead would also be reanimated in the singularity. “We will have the opportunity to recreate the past and interact with it in a real and direct way,” he wrote in “Mind Children: The Future of Robots and Human Intelligence.”

In recent years, entrepreneur and inventor Ray Kurzweil has been one of the biggest champions of the singularity. Mr. Kurzweil wrote “The Age of Intelligent Machines” in 1990 and “The Singularity is Near” in 2005, and is now writing “The Singularity Is Near.”

By the end of the decade, he hopes computers will pass the Turing test and be indistinguishable from humans. Fifteen years after that, he reckons, the true transcendence will come: the moment when “computation will be part of itself, and we will increase our intelligence a millionfold.”

By then, Mr. Kurzweil will be 97. With the help of vitamins and supplements, he plans to live to see it.

To some critics of Singularity, it is an intellectually questionable attempt to replicate the belief system of organized religion in the realm of software.

“All they want is eternal life without the inconvenience of believing in God,” said Rodney Brooks, former director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The innovation that feeds today’s singularity debate is the larger language model, the type of AI system that powers chatbots. Start a conversation with one of these LL.M.s and it can return answers swiftly, coherently and often enough with illumination.

“When you ask a question, these models interpret what it means, determine what its response should mean, then translate it back into words—if that’s not the definition of general intelligence.” What is?” said Jerry Kaplan, longtime AI entrepreneur and author of “Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know.”

Mr Kaplan said he was apprehensive about highly touted miracles like self-driving cars and cryptocurrencies. He approached the latest AI boom with the same skepticism but said he was won over.

“If this is not a ‘singularity’, it is certainly a singularity: a transformative technological step that will massively accelerate the arts, sciences and a whole gamut of human knowledge – and create some problems,” he said.

Critics point out that even the LLM’s impressive results are a far cry from the vast, global intelligence long promised by the Singularity. Part of the problem with accurately separating the hype from the reality is that the engines driving this technology are becoming elusive. OpenAI, which began as a non-profit using open source code, is now a for-profit venture that critics say is effectively a black box. Google and Microsoft also provide limited visibility.

Most AI research is being done by companies and there is much to be gained from the results. Microsoft researchers to invest $13 billion in OpenAI published a paper in April Concluding that the initial version of the latest OpenAI model “exhibits many hallmarks of intelligence”, including “abstraction, understanding, vision, coding” and “understanding of human motives and emotions”.

Rylan Schaefer, a doctoral student in computer science at Stanford, said some AI researchers paint an incorrect picture of how these large language models exhibit “emergent capabilities” — unexplained capabilities that weren’t apparent in smaller versions.

Along with two Stanford colleagues, Brando Miranda and Sanmi Koejo, Mr. Schaefer examined this question in a Research Paper published last month and concluded that emergent properties were “mirages” caused by errors in measurement. In fact, researchers are seeing what they want to see.

In Washington, London and Brussels, lawmakers are stirring up AI’s opportunities and problems and starting to talk about regulation. Mr. Altman is on a roadshow, seeking to deflect early criticism and promote OpenAI as the shepherd of the singularity.

This includes an openness to regulation, but exactly what that looks like is unclear. The general view of Silicon Valley has been that the government is too slow and stupid to oversee rapid technological advances.

“There’s no one in the government who can do it right,” Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, Said In an interview with “Meet the Press” last month, arguing the case for AI self-regulation. “But the industry can largely fix this.”

AI, like the Singularity, is already being described as irreversible. “Stopping it would require something like a global monitoring system, and even that is not guaranteed to work,” Mr. Altman and some of his colleagues wrote last month. If Silicon Valley doesn’t make it, he said, others will.

What is less discussed is the enormous profits that uploading can make to the world. Despite all the talk about AI being an unlimited wealth-creating machine, the people getting rich are far too many who are already rich.

Microsoft has seen its market capitalization increase by half a trillion dollars this year. Nvidia, the maker of chips that run AI systems, recently became one of the most valuable public US companies when it said demand for those chips had skyrocketed.

“AI is the technology the world has always wanted,” Mr Altman tweeted.

This is certainly the technology that the tech world has always wanted, arriving at the best possible time. Last year, Silicon Valley was grappling with layoffs and rising interest rates. Crypto, the previous boom, was mired in fraud and disappointment.

Follow the money, said Charles Strauss, co-author of the novel “The Rapture of the Nerds,” a satire on eccentricity, as well as author of “Accelerando,” a more serious attempt to describe it. Live that what life may soon be like.

“The real promise here is that corporations will be able to replace many of their flawed, expensive, slow, human information-processing subunits with bits of software, which will speed things up and reduce their overheads,” he said.

The singularity has long been envisioned as a cosmic phenomenon literally mind-blowing. And it still can happen.

But it may appear first and foremost – thanks, thanks to the bottom-line obsession of today’s Silicon Valley – as a tool to reduce corporate America’s head count. While you’re racing to add a trillion to your market cap, heaven can wait.

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