View from the Bunker: Hugo de Garis and The Artilect War

I love podcasts.  Whether I’m driving my car, washing the dishes, crafting at the kitchen table, or writing an article there’s a good change I’ve got my mp3 player locked and loaded with a variety of podcasts to keep me entertained and informed.  I must download 10-15 per week.

One of my favorite podcasts is article source hosted by Derek Gilbert.  The scope of topics discussed and the variety of guests interviewed tends to be right up my alley.

On a recent VFTB episode, Gilbert interviewed Dr. Prof. Hugo de Garis, a charming man with a big brain.   de Garis is the author of the book short expository essay.

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His expertise in the field of “evolvable hardware” and artificial brains has kept de Garis on the cutting edge of scientific research, and has inspired him to be at the forefront of scholars who warn that the creation of massively intelligent machines  could lead to great calamity for the human race.

The de Garis future looks something like this:  In the near future, technology to bring about true artificial intelligence will be perfected.  de Garis refers to the resultant creations of this technology as Artilects (artificial intellect – think Cylon).  At this point, there will be a great debate as to whether or not it is wise to bring these Artilects into reality.  The passionate debate will be about “species dominance”.  The two factions have been coined by de Garis as “Cosmists” – those who believe it is man’s responsibility to bring massively intelligent machines into being, thus fulfilling our destiny of creating godlike Artilects that represent the next rung on the evolutionary ladder;  and “Terrans” – those who believe that the potential risks of bringing Artilects on to the scene are so great that the development of such machines should be stopped.   Terrans will maintain that the responsibility of the human race is to prevent future generations from being exterminated or enslaved by the Artilects, either intentionally or through their indifference to us (de Garis uses the vivid image of how casually a human can justify killing a bug because it is so beneath us and is nothing but a nuisance).

Ultimately, de Garis believes that the debate will evolve into the most deadly war our planet has ever seen, resulting in billions of deaths or “gigadeath”.  In the midst of all of this, a third group will emerge called the “Cyborgians” – those who will not be opposed to Artilects, but rather will want to merge themselves bodily with the machines, creating some sort of man/machine hybrid, taking even Kurzweil’s Singularity concept to a whole new level.

The interview was fascinating.  Hugo de Garis is a complex man who has clearly dedicated much of his time to calculating the concept of the Artilect War and its likelihood.  He considers it inevitable, and the question is… which side will you be on?

I highly recommend that you stream or download this interview right now.  If you’ve had the chance to listen, please share your thoughts in the comments below.  If you believe Dr. Prof. Hugo de Garis, this will be the greatest debate of the 21st century and it is probably well worth our time to give it consideration.

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