An Evolutionary Explanation for the AGI Threat
Is the existential threat of super intelligent artificial intelligence justified? Algorithms and computation devices have already allowed us tremendous modality by performing calculations that are impossible for humans. The beginning of an AI singularity seems very close because of the multitude of groups both researching and implementing algorithms that do tasks of human equivalence or better.
It makes sense to fear our level of intelligence when we already see disharmonious behavior from other humans. What would an intelligent system with potentially unlimited resources enact? It’s historically and anthropologically coherent to assume that any rivaling intelligence is a threat. Whether it be extra-terrestrial or deliberate human action, the risks are genuine for an exponentially improving intelligence. Fortunately, there is an evolutionary analogy to this AGI creation scenario which can help anticipate the probable outcomes.
The homo lineage has shown to be extraordinarily complex with many evolutionary branches. With each fossil find, analysis has uncovered important details regarding everything from geography of inhabitance, co-existence with other hominins, to their span of existence. The hominins Homo Erectus, 1 Denisovan, 2 and Neanderthal 3 are believed to have co-existed in the same geography and time period as modern humans. Recent research into Neanderthal extinction 4 5 6 and their overlap 6 7 with modern humans also includes DNA evidence of Neanderthals 8 9 and Denisovan 10 interbreeding with humans 11. These monumental discoveries lead to a hypothesis of three high level scenarios that hope to provide an answer for why only homo sapiens are still present.
1) One is that hominins naturally became extinct through disease, natural disaster, or inter-species violence. If humans were living in the same time period and geography and were exposed to the same factors then they most likely survived through immunity or superior intelligence that overcame the same obstacles.
2) The second scenario is that these hominins were forced into extinction by humans. This could have been through control of resources, spread of disease, or violence.
3) The third is that they co-existed and became genetically absorbed into the human lineage. What these possible scenarios signify is quite similar to the impact that AGI could have on human existence. While there still is the possibility for AGI to be under the domain or co-exist separately with humans, the most likely scenario of exponentially progressing AGI will be a human-AGI overlap. This will likely occur through a combination of wearable technology and genetically engineered integration resulting in AGI assimilating into human culture. The best case would be a merged co-existence and the only analogy would be a hominin species becoming absorbed into the homo-sapient lineage through interbreeding.
Because our curiosity will never let us halt the pursuit, the methodology of construction and implementation will ultimately dictate our future with AGI. An important consideration is will genetic engineering to increase human cognitive abilities complement and coincide with AGI growth?
From what we know about human development it is fairly evident that early rearing requires nurture and interaction with great importance on order. Additionally, to circumvent world wide economic fallout from a global labor surplus; solving issues of food, water, and safety must be the initial priority for AGI applications. In addition to the economic reason for this priority, there is the dilemma of goal related behavior12 and the meaning grounding aspect of intelligent agents. The initial order of information acquisition and processing will set the tone in terms of global impact and for the validity of an AGI system. The first applications must be for beneficial purposes and altruist convictions that improve the human condition. If AI is to eventually dominate employment, simultaneous efforts of education and solutions for basic human needs must be the priority.
Currently, the human model is our only framework for emulating intelligence. Although there may be an alien evolution of unique origins, we still need to understand our own origins. A hypothetical example is a organism that doesn’t die or replicate. It continues to evolve and gain breadth by interacting with matter. This is analogous to the AGI threat of a single entity that has super-intelligence. The culmination of my research and understanding has led me to believe that with a proper semantic backbone, AGI can indeed maintain the cooperative efforts of humanity.
Lastly, my principal motivation in studying the cognitive sciences is that any insight I can provide by reverse engineering human intelligence is a step closer to solving intractable problems of limited resources. Because of the non-trivial potential applications to improve the conditions for the disenfranchised, AGI ultimately has the capacity to remove the lack of resources as an impetus for violence.
Idealistically my aim is show that because of the tremendous complexity and impact allow, R&D must be driven through global collaboration. Because the current landscape is at race-to-first, the risks are even greater due to lack of supervision and enough resources. A major priority for a future global effort should be that our group intelligence must always supersede that of the AGI.
1 Meredith M (2011). Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-58648-663-2.
2 Krause, Johannes; Fu, Qiaomei; Good, Jeffrey M.; Viola, Bence; Shunkov, Michael V.; Derevianko, Anatoli P. & Pääbo, Svante (2010), “The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia”, Nature464 (7290): 894–897, doi:10.1038/nature08976, PMID 20336068
4 Gilligan, I: “Neanderthal extinction and modern human behaviour: the role of climate change and clothing”, World Archaeology, Vol. 39, No. 4. (2007), pp. 499–514.
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10 Reich, D.; Patterson, N.; Kircher, M.; Delfin, F.; Nandineni, M.R.; Pugach, I.; et al. (2011). “Denisova Admixture and the First Modern Human Dispersals into Southeast Asia and Oceania”. The American Journal of Human Genetics 89 (4): 516–528. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.09.005. PMC 3188841. PMID 21944045.