A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Intelligence is the ability to perceive or infer information, to retain it as knowledge, and apply it to solving problems. In short, figuring out what to do,. Howard Gardner, a Harvard Professor, has come up with ten separate spheres of intelligence that disputes the single IQ test, which supposedly accurately measures one’s intelligence by generating one number, 100 being average, below average as less than 90, impaired below 80, above average above 110, gifted greater than 120, 130 very gifted, 160 and higher genius. Gardner argues that a single number is misleading, and wrongfully credits intelligence to just measure a couple of human brain functions, and not the whole gamut of what makes a smart person. Ted Kaczynski reportedly had an IQ of 167, and was a Berkley professor by age 25, but had a serious brain malfunction. He was the homicidal maniac known as the “Uni-Bomber”. Gardner’s idea of intelligence considers things like language skills, logic and math ability, musicality, body awareness and ability to use movement to accomplish feats such as putting a basketball through a metal hoop or taking out an appendix. He also included the more spiritual skills such as existential things like personal responsibility, points of view, morality, and also the pedagogical, how to pass these views on to the next generation. Ted Kaczynski’s interpersonal and intrapersonal IQ would approach 0 on Gardner’s scale.
A single number is not enough to define the smarts quotient of a human, or for that matter an earth worm. Since there are so many aspects to consider, intelligence is difficult to duplicate in a machine, i.e. artificial intelligence. Humans have begun their short career on this earth just 4 million years ago. That is a fraction of the time dinosaurs had. Dinosaurs appeared first in the fossil records in the Triassic period, 240 million years ago, and lived through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, collectively called the Mesozoic Era, roughly 177,000,000 years. Then 66 million years ago a large asteroid (7 to 50 miles in diameter) struck earth in the Yucatan near the present-day town of Chicxulub, Mexico, leaving a 90-mile crater. The inevitable nuclear winter that it caused, shielded earth from the life-giving sun. Whether the world-wide initial conflagration brought a fiery death to the dinosaur, or the subsequent destruction of most plant life led to a slow starvation is not known. But the fossil record shows a sudden absence of the order of Archosauria (ruling reptiles). There is evidence that some of these lizards reached a substantial level of intelligence as they lived in families, and the carnivores among them often hunted in organized and cooperating packs, as accurately depicted in the movie, Jurassic Park. Obviously, they did not reach the level that we humans have reached in a considerably shorter time. There were no institutions like Harvard or lizards that came up with the Theory of Relativity, despite their lengthy time on this earth.
We, however, developed intelligence much quicker. Lucy, an Australopithecus Afarensis, was one of the first humans after the branch point from monkeys. As an aside, her name is derived from the 1967 Beatle song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, as it was played loudly and repeatedly over the camp loudspeaker the night they discovered her. The phrase “Lucy in the sky” became “Lucy in disguise” to the anthropologists, as they did not initially understand the tremendous change their discovery had on the story of human evolution. She roamed the Ethiopian plains 3.2 million years ago on two legs, and was mostly a vegetarian, with the occasional grub or worm to supplement her protein poor diet. But when the occasional antelope that was trapped be raging grass fires, providing roast antelope just for the taking, early humans developed the taste for meat and the diet changed. The bipedal and erect posture also supported a higher meat diet, as humans had an advantage over four legged animals in long distance running. Although the antelope could out-run us in short distances, our four-legged friends could not sustain long distances, as they could not maintain adequate oxygenation of their muscles with the diaphragm constantly being restricted by both lower and upper extremities impinging on it while running, nor were they able to keep from overheating as heat loss in all other mammals except us, is through the tongue by panting. They cannot sweat. They just dropped dead after a long sprint, and our ancestors could then catch up and drag the carcasses into their caves. When Prometheus, or whoever, gave us fire 1.5 million years ago, the protein content of our diet dramatically increased. Not only did the dentition change from grinding to front incisors for cutting and canines for tearing, but more significantly, the brain size increased from 500 cc to its current size of 1500 cc plus or minus, depending on if you are Albert Einstein or Snooki . We now have 86 billion neurons, compared to 14 billion that a baboon has. Our computer just got better. With the better computer we learned to make tools about the same time, and that allowed us to hunt and to build more efficiently. Homo sapiens, our species, made its appearance about 500,000 years ago, eventually eliminating, out competing, or just absorbing the Neanderthals, as evidenced by the fact that we have more or less 4% of their genes in our own genome.
The more we know the faster we gather more new knowledge. Not only does knowledge double every 12 months at this point in time, but the rate exponentially increases as well, to theoretically eventually exceed a doubling time of every 12 hours. Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome, and the second president of Mensa, despite being expelled from Harvard twice, gathered data to show that knowledge doubled every century up to the 1700’s , but then took off, and is now up to a doubling time of knowledge every year. This phenomenon is also seen in mechanical computers. The speed and efficiency of computers doubles every 24 months, now known as Moor’s law. That rate of growth is also accelerating.
Development of language was another major landmark breakthrough in advancing our intellect. Various noises to communicate certain meanings exists in apes. There are snake warning noises, leopard and eagle specific calls. Anatomic changes in the human skull suggest some improvement in the structure for making sounds occurred about 1,000,000 years ago. But language as we know it, probably came into existence with the genus homo 100,000 years ago from studies of the sub-glottic anatomy, such as changes in the little U-shaped Hyoid bone that serves as an anchor for the muscles of the tongue and throat. Also, now that we have the human genome mapped, including those of our ancestors, we can look at DNA to find when genes that are possibly related to speech appeared.
The hunter-gatherer life-style did not allow for any extra time. All efforts were for finding food to stay alive, leaving little time for anything else. About 23,000 years ago, a sedentary camp on the shores of the Sea of Galilee showed evidence of plant cultivation of grasses whose seeds were the first cereals, such as Emer, Barley, and Oats, along with harvesting and grinding tools. 15,000 years ago we domesticated the wild wolf, which seems unlikely looking at a poodle today, but nevertheless true. With dogs, big game hunting became more efficient. It was 3000 years later sheep and goats too were tamed. Then came oxen, cows, and donkeys. We no longer had to chase herds to feed ourselves. Leisure time increased, and gave us the opportunity to think of other things, like art, theological thoughts of an afterlife and who created all this, and how to make a better mouse trap. The human intellect grew by leaps and bounds, and with it the ingenuity to create, to build, and to invent. Pyramids sprang up in the desert, and palaces with beautiful hanging gardens in Babylon gave us culture and the invention of written language embedded in clay tablets, and the institutions of law.
One component, but not all aspects of intelligence, is bits of knowledge. That is exactly what computers do. They store “bits” of information. A bit is the basic computer unit of information that has one of two values, 0 or 1. Just with those two values it can convey multiples of trillions of bits of information. The first analog computer was found in an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island, Antikythera, hence is named the Antikythera mechanism. It was probably invented by the Greek scholar Hipparchus of Nicaea (190-120 BC), who also gave us trigonometry and invented the astrolabe, a device that helps navigators determine latitude and therefore locate their position on earth. The Antikythera mechanism lay at the bottom of the Mediterranean for 2000 years. It was able to calculate position of the known planets, the moon, and stars thousands of years into the future. It could predict eclipses of both the sun and moon. Our current computers have the ability to drive cars, keep us appraised of our military adversaries, predict tomorrow’s weather (sort of), correct our spelling, help us do the grocery shopping, teach surgical residents to operate on the human body through computer simulation, accomplish the resolution of Carmichael’s totient conjecture in fractions of seconds that would take mathematicians, like Gunter Zoloft, days or weeks to achieve, and many other tasks that have been and still are being elucidated. A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) is gaining ground fast. It still is not quite there in logical decision making, although it has been able to out-think the best world chess champions and defeat them. In 1997 Garry Kasparov, considered the greatest chess champion of all times, was out-played by IBM’s supercomputer, Deep Blue. And IBM’s, Watson, beat two Jeopardy champions in a special $1,000,000 performance by getting more answers correct and delivering them faster than his human competition. IBM donated the prize to charity. With the increasing speed and efficiency of computers the time is, without a doubt, coming in a few years or, for sure, in a few hundred years, where computers will be smarter than we are. This will provide a challenge to humanity. Do we let that happen? And if we do, which is almost a certainty, will computers take our place in the evolutionary tapestry, and enslave us, as we have enslaved all other life forms? Some of you may remember Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey which depicts the dawn of man with the invention of tools at the beginning, and ending with the rise of A.I. in the character of the supercomputer HAL 9000. The movie pits humanity, portrayed by Dave the astronaut, against the supercomputer, HAL, who is determined to eliminate the human element by killing all the astronauts, as the mission is too important to allow humans to interfere, according to the radicalized artificially intelligent computer. In the movie we (humans) do win, and disable HAL, in the unforgettable scene where Dave dismantles HAL’s memory chips. As HAL loses it, he starts singing “Daisy Bell” (Daisy, Daisey, give me your answer, do… I’m half crazy all for the love of you!) as he fades out of existence.
SPOILER ALLERT! If you have not read Dan Browns last book, Origin, and intend to read it STOP READING AND SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH AND GO TO THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH. Dan Brown points out the evolution of humans is going to end, and a new form of intelligence will take over as a new life form. A.I. will populate the earth and human life will wither. In this novel the computer wins.
Steven Hawking was born January 8, 1942 (exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo), and died March 14, 2018, from the complications of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) that he had since age 21. He was a theoretical physicist. He made many contributions to the study of Astro-Physics, especially about black holes. His major contribution about them is that they too are finite, despite everything nearby falling into them, and nothing, not even light, can escape. Black holes eventually fade into nothingness, through what is called Hawking Evaporation. He may be the only man that fully understood Albert Einstein’s physics and is certainly a candidate for one of the smartest people of our era. In his final message to humanity in his book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, he is very optimistic about A.I. as the crowning achievement of humanity. It will help us conquer many of our challenges, like the destruction of our planet by overpopulation, global warming, food shortages, insufficient energy availability, pollution, and many other sins. The eventual solution will be finding, and traveling at first, but later migrating to exo-planets that are still pristine. But he warns that A.I. has its dangers. We must remain in control, and steer the artificial mind to be our servant, and not the other way around. All A.I. machines must have a mandatory, tamperproof, non-removable kill switch installed, or HAL will win next time.
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