PostHeaderIcon Ants & Gods

The subject of Artificial Intelligence and the future of mankind arose in discussions on the previous post. Here is an excellent TED talk on subject, by Sam Harris last year:



…pretty sobering and thought provoking, no? The analogy comparing ourselves to ants works rather well. His last line about constructing a new god was incredibly profound! Any discussion?

PS: Especially for Chris… be paying close attention to the visual at 4:08; but try not to lose your train of thought.  😉 â—„Daveâ–º

7 Responses to “Ants & Gods”

  • Chris says:

    Interesting questions indeed. I’m relatively confident we will see moves in this direction during our lifetimes which in the grand scheme of things is a pretty short amount of time. I don’t think we will ever see it advanced to the level he predicts. Odds are it will though. In that case I would give only one piece of advice to our progeny. Never give up the off switch. Always be able to pull the plug at the root supply. If you let it think autonomic be sure it’s source of power is not. It must always need you to exist. Once it doesn’t you won’t.

    • By then, it will be too late for an off switch, Chris. Remember what happened in 2001, when Hal killed Frank and was trying to kill Dave. Dave couldn’t just turn Hal off, because it was controlling the environment of the spaceship. He had to physically disable it, by removing computer cards from the consciousness section, while leaving the autonomic circuits intact and functioning. Needless to say, the state of computer hardware has already advanced beyond Clarke’s wildest imagination. Today’s Hal would just be an app on my iPad.

      AI is software, not hardware. The truly dangerous AI won’t be a robot; but a distributed network that will control just about everything. Just think of the internet and cloud computing today. Redundant backup cloud servers don’t even necessarily exist in the same physical location. Even if one could turn it all off, mankind would find themselves virtually back in the stone age, as the grid and everything else shut down.

      As for our progeny and my own future, I probably have less than 10 years left. I won’t see very much of the inevitable apocalypse, whatever form it takes. Pondering the truly fragile trajectory of civilization itself, however, sure exposes the utter foolishness of those fretting about AGW and polar bear habitat. The very notion of sacrifice, to conserve resources and such for future generations, strikes me as ludicrous. â—„Daveâ–º

      • Chris says:

        That reminds me of Big John. He took his Cadillac off the road yesterday to drive an old beat piece of crap for the winter. He’s 88. I had to ask him what the heck he was saving the car for. Asked him how many years he figured on needing it. LOL He said “you’ll find out when your fixing the rust”. Hate it when he gets cocky. 🙂

  • LOL … he is entertaining for sure. We already have Twits as sheepdogs herding the sheep why not AI stomping on ants?

    Might be a good thing actually.

    In the end they self destruct but certainly an interesting theory to play with … LOL

    The moral of the story is don’t get stomped on before they self destruct.

    BTW I recall him being on Glenn Beck a number of years ago talking about this with Beck and both playing the “what if” game.

    • I recall him being on Glenn Beck a number of years ago talking about this with Beck and both playing the “what if” game.

      I would rather have seen them debating religion, CT. Sam would have wiped the floor with Reverend Beck. Have you read his “Letter to a Christian Nation?” If not, it is a short quick read, and I suspect you would find it interesting. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Troy says:

    I, however, as much as I like and admire Sam Harris, do NOT believe that intelligence is nothing more than information processing. There is another dimension called imagination that is responsible for most of the great forward leaps and I am by no means sure that we can program that into a machine, At least not until we understand how it works in ourselves.


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