Next Forms of Intelligence

Jennifer Buss

Like it or not, we’re entering an era where we may not be the most intelligent beings on this planet. No, I’m not talking about aliens, rather the emergence of artificial intelligence.

The use of the term artificial in this term is a bit out of context. We really should consider this a new form of intelligence. It is not fake, it is very real. It might not have a body but the output of the intelligence is the same output that we have as humans (and other animals).

We are at the crux for this transition into a new form of intelligence. We have spent decades creating all the tools necessary to make this evolution. The intersection of biology, computers, nanoscience, and neuroscience have brought about a new intelligence. Each of these technology areas have had their own revolutions in past decades and we are entering the neuroscience revolution as we speak. Multiple revolutions over the past decade(s) have led us to have the ability to create the next form of intelligence – artificial or not. Biological revolution provided advances in genetic manipulation. Computer science revolution led to faster chips, less power, and sophisticated programming; humans do less work because of computers. Nanoscience allows us to create new materials from the bottom up – both in biology and electronics. Current advances in neuroscience afford us insight into the human brain, taking advantage of the past revolutions’ technologies and developing new methods of increased performance. The strengths of each of these revolutions are accumulating to provide us the capabilities to build intelligent forms.

The next form of intelligence will arrive in one of four ways building on the past revolutions:

  1. Emerging from machines linked together

This is how many describe an artificial intelligence. Connect enough computing power with enough information and an intelligent being will emerge. Of the four options, this is the least likely for us to see in our lifetime. (more on this in the next blog)

  1. Computer simulated human behavior

Society is collecting enough information on each person where it is possible to know how a person speaks, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and their favorite pastimes. Knowing all of the “big data” information will allow a computer program to simulate every individual’s behavior. This program can act like their human, it will have its own intelligence. We will not be able to distinguish between the human and the clone.

  1. A learning computer program

Humans have been creating technology from the very beginning to make our lives easier. We are at the very beginning of creating programs that can do things for us – personal assistant, automated protocols, robots, etc. we are creating these programs to learn as they go and correct themselves for optimization. These programs will be able to learn faster than any human and work at the speed of the internet. They won’t ever need sleep and will generate their own personalities.

  1. Enhanced humans

The last frontier in biology is focused on the human brain. Industry is creating technologies to enhance human performance. Genetic research is providing new techniques to manipulate human appearance and behavior. We will soon be able to increase the baseline human intelligence through advanced neurotechnology devices. The first humans to adopt the technology will have a significant advantage over others. Each day we are seeing significant developments in new neurotechnology; the day when humans have chips in their heads are not far away.

The next intelligence brings excitement and apprehension. Each form of intelligence will exist and arrive differently. We need to be aware that these four types of new intelligence are simultaneously being researched and tested leading us into unchartered territory. We have the power to determine what we want this to become.  The questions are: what do we want and how do we get there?

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