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Paths, Dangers, Strategies

by Nick Bostrom

Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life. The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful - possibly beyond our control. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.

But we have one advantage: We get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed Artificial Intelligence, to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?

This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom's work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.

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Recommendations: 1

Categories: Computer ScienceComputers & Technology

Reading time: 1314 hours


Sam Harris
Neuroscientist, Philosopher, Author and Podcaster

The philosopher, Nick Bostrom, wrote a book called “Superintelligence,” which has impressed many people for the thoroughness with which he has argued that we have a serious problem looming with respect to the birth of intelligent machines. “Superintelligence” is really the clearest book I’ve come across that makes the case that the so-called “control problem,” the problem of building human level and beyond artificial intelligence that we can control, that we can know in advance will converge with our interests, that’s truly a difficult and important task because we will wind up building this stuff by happenstance if we simply keep going in the direction we’re headed.