Peter Voss, founder of Adaptive AI and speaker at this year's Singularity Summit, believes that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) promises unprecedented advances, not only in science and technology, but also in ethics and social systems.
He also believes that businesses (and thus, consumers) will be first to experience some of the enormous benefits of this emerging technology. His talk centered on these improvements, as well as making a case for how increased intelligence leads to improved morality.
Stick with me on this one.
* dramatically reduced labor costs (one of the largest costs of many businesses)
* improved quality of design in products & services
* reduced workers' risks: this trend will accelerate
This accelerating improvement will come about because many of the systems within companies will have fewer and fewer humans in the critical timing loops.
In this context, humans are often the slowest link in the chain - and the least reliable link in the chain. Therefore, as more and more systems are automated (or, as humans are taken out of the loop), that will lead to an accelerated improvement. Why? Peter Voss quietly, yet matter-of-factly gave this explanation (what may have been the quote of the year) to the audience:
Human intelligence really is a big bottleneck for many of the problems that humanity faces.
Other aspects of industry - and humanity - which will benefit from AGI:
Science and technology
* AGI will accelerate the development of nanotechnology
* Not only will we have much better models about environmental issues, we'll also have better technology to prevent environmental damage, and to clean it up
* If you have systems that approach human-level intelligence, even if they're not generally capable as humans, if they can think and reason and learn like humans - at a certain point in development, they'll be able to improve their own design.
To drive home the point, Voss also read an excerpt from an essay he'd written on AGI and life extension:
Imagine 100,000 PhD-level researchers focusing their total efforts on life extension and anti-aging research. Imagine them working 24/7 with no distraction from grant proposals, office politics, or attractive coworkers. Imagine the fantastic progress we would see in finding solutions for eliminating debilitating disease and reversing the effects of aging.
If you really think through how intelligent systems, and having hundreds of thousands of Ph.D level brains working 24/7 at solving aging problems and disease, clearly we will see significant progress. These are difficult problems, and we need more brain power to address them.
Now, apply that same theory to education ('now, imagine 100,000 teachers...').
Ethics and morality, and how AGI will make us better people:
* we can also use AGI tools to vastly improve our ability to think and to reason things through:
A significant proportion of immoral behavior is really irrational behavior; that often when somebody does something bad, how often is it because they didn't think it through properly, they didn't have enough information, or didn't get good advice? A lot of immoral behavior really falls into that category.
AGI will get to know us, and become a 'trusted adviser' to us. It'll help us become better people.
In adding his own prediction of how far away we are from AGI, Peter Voss is even more daring than most: he believes it is most certainly 10 years -- and quite likely less than five.