Thursday, June 18, 2015

genetic engineering: technical challenge or moral challenge?

waitbutwhy |  He is very, very concerned about AI. I quoted him in my posts on AI saying that he fears that by working to bring about Superintelligent AI (ASI), we’re “summoning the demon,” but I didn’t know how much he thought about the topic. He cited AI safety as one of the three things he thinks about most—the other two being sustainable energy and becoming a multi-planet species, i.e. Tesla and SpaceX. Musk is a smart motherf---er, and he knows a ton about AI, and his sincere concern about this makes me scared.
— The Fermi Paradox also worries him. In my post on that, I divided Fermi thinkers into two camps—those who think there’s no other highly intelligent life out there at all because of some Great Filter, and those who believe there must be plenty of intelligent life and that we don’t see signs of any for some other reason. Musk wasn’t sure which camp seemed more likely, but he suspects that there may be an upsetting Great Filter situation going on. He thinks the paradox “just doesn’t make sense” and that it “gets more and more worrying” the more time that goes by. Considering the possibility that maybe we’re a rare civilization who made it past the Great Filter through a freak occurrence makes him feel even more conviction about SpaceX’s mission: “If we are very rare, we better get to the multi-planet situation fast, because if civilization is tenuous, then we must do whatever we can to ensure that our already-weak probability of surviving is improved dramatically.” Again, his fear here makes me feel not great.
— One topic I disagreed with him on is the nature of consciousness. I think of consciousness as a smooth spectrum. To me, what we experience as consciousness is just what it feels like to be human-level intelligent. We’re smarter, and “more conscious” than an ape, who is more conscious than a chicken, etc. And an alien much smarter than us would be to us as we are to an ape (or an ant) in every way. We talked about this, and Musk seemed convinced that human-level consciousness is a black-and-white thing—that it’s like a switch that flips on at some point in the evolutionary process and that no other animals share. He doesn’t buy the “ants : humans :: humans : [a much smarter extra-terrestrial]” thing, believing that humans are weak computers and that something smarter than humans would just be a stronger computer, not something so beyond us we couldn’t even fathom its existence.
— I talked to him for a while about genetic reprogramming. He doesn’t buy the efficacy of typical anti-aging technology efforts, because he believes humans have general expiration dates, and no one fix can help that. He explained: “The whole system is collapsing. You don’t see someone who’s 90 years old and it’s like, they can run super fast but their eyesight is bad. The whole system is shutting down. In order to change that in a serious way, you need to reprogram the genetics or replace every cell in the body.” Now with anyone else—literally anyone else—I would shrug and agree, since he made a good point. But this was Elon Musk, and Elon Musk fixes s--t for humanity. So what did I do?
Me: Well…but isn’t this important enough to try? Is this something you’d ever turn your attention to?
Elon: The thing is that all the geneticists have agreed not to reprogram human DNA. So you have to fight not a technical battle but a moral battle.
Me: You’re fighting a lot of battles. You could set up your own thing. The geneticists who are interested—you bring them here. You create a laboratory, and you could change everything.
Elon: You know, I call it the Hitler Problem. Hitler was all about creating the Übermensch and genetic purity, and it’s like—how do you avoid the Hitler Problem? I don’t know.
Me: I think there’s a way. You’ve said before about Henry Ford that he always just found a way around any obstacle, and you do the same thing, you always find a way. And I just think that that’s as important and ambitious a mission as your other things, and I think it’s worth fighting for a way, somehow, around moral issues, around other things.
Elon: I mean I do think there’s…in order to fundamentally solve a lot of these issues, we are going to have to reprogram our DNA. That’s the only way to do it.
Me: And deep down, DNA is just a physical material.
Elon: [Nods, then pauses as he looks over my shoulder in a daze] It’s software.

7 comments:

Dale Asberry said...

I don't buy that "Musk is a smart motherf---er". Something tells me that he's a fraud but I can't quite put my finger on it...

BigDonOne said...

You don't need AI to create that Charleston, SC, False Flag. It was probably hatched right in OvalOffice by POTUS_75 to stomp the Second Amendment....

CNu said...

Not quite sure when the decision was taken to pretend about future industrialists to the rescue instead of "Defense Science Board" to the rescue, but Musk is definitely one of the faux celebrities created out of this initiative, along with the Google and Facebook wunderkind. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/tesla-motors-free-ride-elon-musk-government-subsidies

CNu said...

BD, BD, BD, BD, BD......, you're becoming less useful than tits on a boar.

John Kurman said...

Anyone who is described as "self-made" should have to show the Mobius vagina they came out of.

John Kurman said...

http://www.necsi.edu/research/evoeco/programmed.pdf

Vic78 said...

When they interview Musk they should just stick to his projects.