The following is a review of the book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
Superintelligence and the Unfinished Fable of the Sparrows.
The Unfinished Fable of the Sparrows
It was the nest-building season, but after days of long hard work, the sparrows sat in the evening glow, relaxing and chirping away.
“We are all so small and weak. Imagine how easy life would be if we had an owl that could help us build our nests!”
“Yes!” said another, “And we could use it to look after our elderly and our young”
“It could give us advice and keep an eye out for the neighbourhood cat” added a third.
Then Pastus, the elder-bird spoke: “Let us send out scouts in all directions and try to find an abandoned owlet somewhere, or maybe an egg. A crow chick might also do, or a baby weasel. This could be the best thing that ever happened to us, at least since the opening of the Pavilion of Unlimited Grain in yonder backyard.”
The flock was exhilarated, and sparrows everywhere started chirping at the top of their lungs.
Only Scronkfinkle, a one-eyed sparrow with a fretful temperament, was unconvinced of the wisdom of the endeavour. Qouth he: “This will surely be our undoing. Should we not give some thought to the art of owl- domestication and owl-taming first, before we bring such creature into our midst?”
“Taming an owl sounds like an exceedingly difficult thing to do. It will be enough to find an owl egg. So let us start there. After we have succeeded in raising an owl, then we can think about taking on this other challenge.” Replied Pastus.
“There is a flaw in that plan!” squeaked Scronkfinkle; but his protests were in vain as the flock had already lifted off to start implementing the directives set out by Pastus.
Just two or three sparrows remained behind. Together they began to try to work out how owls might be tamed or domesticated. They soon realised Pastus had been right: this was an excellently difficult challenge, especially in the absence of an actual owl to practice on. Nevertheless they pressed on as best they could, constantly fearing that the flock might return with an owl egg before a solution to the control problem had been found.
This tale starts SuperIntelligence, a book by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, that debates the issue of machines becoming more intelligent than humans in the near or not so near future. The Unfinished Fable of the Sparrows refers to the issue of the control of an entity which we are not completely familiar with, and whose powers might be beyond our individual reach.
Although the time is not precisely known, it is widely accepted between the top personalities of the field of artificial intelligence, that the day will come when machines reach the same level of intelligence as humans.
When this day comes, will it stop there? Or will machines, using their newly achieved human-level intelligence, surpass this threshold and achieve even higher levels of consciousness and knowledge than humans, allowing them to dominate the world, or even the entire universe?
What is intelligence? what forms of intelligence exist? what is the most likely way in which machines can achieve this superintelligence? Will we be prepared for this event? If not, how can we prepare? What are the possible outcomes? Is there any specific motivation for the behaviour of an artificial intelligence?
These questions and a lot more are answered by Bostrom in the approximately 320 pages of text, diagrams and images that compromise this wonderful book. If you want to know the answer to any of them, or just educate yourself on the possible shortcomings of Artificial Intelligence, this book is absolutely a must read that leaves no stone unturned.
Thanks for reading How to Learn Machine Learning and enjoy AI.
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
- Oxford University Press
- Bostrom, Nick (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 390 Pages - 05/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Oxford University Press (Publisher)
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