Please, allow an upfront disclaimer: I’m not an Artificial Intelligence (AI) researcher — yet. This post focuses on the neurological pathways and memes for how humans design and construct knowledge. Which provide insight into how we will and are using AI.
I’ve posted about spiral memes frequently in the past. The key points to review here are that every major phase in human history had a dominant collection of memes, each of which had a dominant communication medium. For example, the advent of silicon wafers and binary data storage allowed all previous communications to be stored and decoded in a singular format (corresponding to the systemic spiral meme). This then enabled the world-wide-web, our first truly global (Kardishev Type 1) technology (corresponding to the global-holistic spiral meme). Because the empathy of each meme correlates with the statistical entropy (# of ways) of the communication, we know that the robustness (not necessarily the sophistication) of our communication streams will also increase as we evolve. For anyone that knows Spiral memes, you also know that this is where Beck and Cowan stopped and left the memes of the future to be discovered.
Spiral memes are cyclical- the systemic and global-holistic memes have a lot of parallels with the survival and tribal memes of old. The key difference is the bump up in Kardishev levels from 0-1, i.e. we’re now valuing survival of global systems and building tribes of systems. So we can use the Kardishev level 0 tier of the Spiral to add insight into the level 1, ‘global’ tier.
This is where AI comes in, in perfectly predictable fashion. Tier 0 level 3 is the Authoritarian, power driven meme. Tier 1 level 3 will be the global system authoritarian. Given the limitations of our own brains, this is necessitated by AI as the dominant communication medium. The use of AI as personal assistants for scheduling, navigating, and replying to emails (for those that still do) is already happening and just the beginning. The NewSpace conference in Seattle last week gave a glimpse of where we’re headed. Engineers will work hard to train the AI algorithms to do the engineering for us. NOT WITHOUT US. And it will take a lot of work to adapt them to new sitauations. Just look at the amount of data having to go into Google’s driverless car project. We don’t need sentient machines, we already are. You didn’t actually think we’d just use AI as a way to respond to emails while we slept did you?
So for those of you wondering when and how sky net happens, here’s a prediction: what we will call a sky net event will happen from key people who get good enough, early enough with AI to run away with the global markets and make unbelievable fortunes. Larry Page anyone? To get this good requires a huge amount of empathy — not to understand how to code AI, but to understand people to match the code to, because we will only increase as the drivers of economy. The ostensible values and goals of which are so far removed, even alien, from the vast majority of the world’s population (currently Kardishev level 0 memes 3-5) that these attempts could be viewed as a hostile robot takeover, and sadly global war could easily erupt.
Never fear, the spiral is here. Authoritarian power was historically reined in by the legalistic meme (Kardishev 0 meme 4) that created enforcable rules everyone had to follow. Kardishev level 1 meme 4 is where the United Nations finally comes in to establish rigorous training, qualification processes, standards for use and testing at a global scale for using powerful tools like AI and CRISPR to prevent naive individuals from causing global catastrophe. Although it usually takes a few epic fails to prod the legal meme into action.
Since we’re this far, let’s run with it. Kardishev 1 meme 5 will be when the planet really starts to perform, and awareness of the machine-human interface will become seamless (think Avatar). Kardishev 1 level 6 we will have eradicated global poverty, have a global nation and achieved global energy and environmental sustainability (think earth in Star Trek). Hence Kardishev 2 level 1 is when our voyage to the stars really begins.
I MIGHT live to see Kardishev 1 level 4 takeoff. At least it’s a future to look forward to.