Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Ultimate Design Challenge

Super-intelligent machines may be only decades away. An ultraintelligent machine can be defined as a machine that can surpass all the intellectual activities of any person - even our smartest. This is sometimes referred to as the next "singularity."

A growing number of academics and technologists have been looking at the singularity as a serious prospect in this century rather than as science fiction. Since human minds and brains operate according to physical laws, then it’s just a matter of time before the principles of these machines are reverse-engineered and implemented on digital computers.

Since the design of machines is one of their capacities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines. There would then be an artificial intelligence explosion, and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. The first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.

It may be only decades before the technology for smarter-than-human minds develops. Researchers at Cornell University built an artificial intelligence program that was able to independently reinvent the laws of physics merely by observing the swinging of a pendulum. Researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales and England’s University of Cambridge were able to build “Adam,” an artificially intelligent robotic system that formulates its own scientific hypothesis and designs experiments to test them. Though these systems don’t challenge human intelligence, rapid progress in the field suggests we should start considering the ramifications of the day when our robotic creations learn to think better than we do.

Click on the heading above to follow developments toward the technological singularity.

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