Author: James Lovelock
Allen Lane, United Kingdom
These weeks, another chapter of the endless Terminator film saga rolls over the cinema screen. And once again, we're dealing with a notion of cyborgs that reminds us of humans - but who are simply superior to us in terms of strength, speed, and survivability.
But what if we dropped these cyborg clichés and instead imagined a creature that is not at all anthropomorphic. A creature that may have the form of a droplet, a sphere, or a microorganism. This being will observe us and think about us in the same way that we observe and think about a flower.
The big step has already been taken
These are the kind of thoughts James Lovelock makes in the book Novac The book is something as rare as a deeply visionary work. The title refers to the age that Lovelock believes we are on the threshold of. Well, maybe the one we just entered. Prior to the Novacean era, we had the Anthropocene age, a time characterised by the human ability to influence the planet's ecosystem. The Novacean era is a time when technology grows out of our control and where artificial intelligence gains the ability to refine and further develop itself and, thus, become an independent being.
In the 1970s, Lovelock put forward the Gaii theory.
We've already seen examples of that, Lovelock points out, and mentions Google's computer program AlphaGo as a telling example. Back in 2015, the program won over a human in the game of Go, which is far more complicated than, for example, chess. And unlike IBM's Deep Blu computer that defeated Kasparov in chess back in the 1990s, AlphaGo was not created by the machine being fed with a lot of data from which it then navigated. Instead, AlphaGo combined two systems: partly human input in the form of data and partly by developing the ability to learn the game on its own along the way. The latter is revolutionary, Lovelock argues, because it means that artificial intelligence has now reached a stage where intuition, autonomy and learning ability become properties that artificial intelligence possesses. And when coupled with information handling thousands of times faster than the human brain, we have the prospect of artificial intelligence that is far superior to us. Then we have artificial intelligence, ...
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