Sunday, July 20, 2014


mashable |  Humans are currently the most intelligent beings on the planet — the result of a long history of evolutionary pressure and adaptation. But could we some day design and build machines that surpass the human intellect?

This is the concept of superintelligence, a growing area of research that aims to improve understanding of what such machines might be like, how they might come to exist, and what they would mean for humanity's future.

Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom's recent book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies discusses a variety of technological paths that could reach superintelligent artificial intelligence (AI), from mathematical approaches to the digital emulation of human brain tissue.

And although it sounds like science fiction, a group of experts, including Stephen Hawking, wrote an article on the topic noting that "There is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains."

Brain as computer 
The idea that the brain performs "computation" is widespread in cognitive science and AI since the brain deals in information, converting a pattern of input nerve signals to output nerve signals.

Another well-accepted theory is that physics is Turing-computable: That whatever goes on in a particular volume of space, including the space occupied by human brains could be simulated by a Turing machine, a kind of idealized information processor. Physical computers perform these same information-processing tasks, though they aren't yet at the level of Turing's hypothetical device.

These two ideas come together to give us the conclusion that intelligence itself is the result of physical computation. And, as Hawking and colleagues go on to argue, there is no reason to believe that the brain is the most intelligent possible computer.

In fact, the brain is limited by many factors, from its physical composition to its evolutionary past. Brains were not selected exclusively to be smart, but to generally maximize human reproductive fitness. Brains are not only tuned to the tasks of the hunter gatherer, but also designed to fit through the human birth canal; supercomputing clusters or data-centers have no such constraints.
Synthetic hardware has a number of advantages over the human brain both in speed and scale, but the software is what creates the intelligence. How could we possibly get smarter-than-human software?


BigDonOne said...

When gut bacteria won't fly, try language and grammar...??

Genes define IQ potential at conception - environment after that determines the extent to which that potential is reached. Humans, chimps and doggz.......

CNu said...

Chimps and dogs don't have discernable natural languages serving as a basis for the cultural acquisition and transmission of knowledge and information across generations simpleton. Your repeated demonstrations of limited comprehension suggests that your own mentality may fall somewhere closer to that of a dog or a chimp, but you shouldn't generalize from your own struggles to the rest of us language-users: In its final form, Binet's
test provided an index of scholastic performance based on the
prevailing standard of scholastic success. In other words, scores on his
test generally correlated with the ratings assigned by French teachers
in the classrooms of his day.
By using teachers judgements of classroom performance as the standard
by which his test was validated, Binet established a practical basis for
its use as a predictor of success in the school system. Because his aim
had been to identify children who required special schooling, he did
not require, nor did he assert, a theory or definition of intelligence.
Moreover, he did not make a distinction between acquired or congenital
feeblemindedness and he never argued that poor performance on his test was a sign of innate mental inferiority.
On the contrary, he sternly rebuked his contemporaries who contended
that intelligence is a fixed quantity that cannot be augmented.

woodensplinter said...

Evidence from human famines and animal studies suggests that starvation can affect the health of descendants of famished individuals. But how such an acquired trait might be transmitted from one generation to the next has not been clear. A new study, involving roundworms, shows that starvation induces specific changes in so-called small RNAs and that these changes are inherited through at least three consecutive generations, apparently without any DNA involvement. The study, conducted by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers, offers intriguing new evidence that the biology of inheritance is more complicated than previously thought. The study was published in the July 10 online edition of the journal Cell.

The idea that acquired traits can be inherited dates back to Jean Baptiste Larmarck (1744–1829), who proposed that species evolve when individuals adapt to their environment and transmit the acquired traits to their offspring. According to Lamarckian inheritance, for example, giraffes developed elongated long necks as they stretched to feed on the leaves of high trees, an acquired advantage that was inherited by subsequent generations. In contrast, Charles Darwin (1809–82) later theorized that random mutations that offer an organism a competitive advantage drive a species’ evolution. In the case of the giraffe, individuals that happened to have slightly longer necks had a better chance of securing food and thus were able to have more offspring. The subsequent discovery of hereditary genetics supported Darwin’s theory, and Lamarck’s ideas faded into obscurity.

Dale Asberry said...

Little Don, STFU:

BigDonOne said...

Bacteria, along with nutrition, education, and other parenting variables, are merely part of the environment associated with the degree to which the Hardwired Genetic Potential for IQ is achieved.

Easily proved by looking at extreme cases -- Identifiable genetic conditions such as Down's, William's, and severe myotonic dystrtophy all tend to produce cognitive deficiency. No amount of any kind of environment, other than perhaps a brain transplant, will ever boost those afflicted genetic losers into the right-half of the IQ curve:

You cannot "fix" the lost cognition in above hard-wired genetic defects with any environmental therapies. Ditto for most of the left-half genetics in the general population. The Chinese realize this and are working on it to breed super-IQ's. They will ultimately eat our lunch......

BigDonOne said...

Smart kids tend to run in families. The genetics causing this are complex and need to be identified. But it won't happen in the USA because any researcher who goes there, even to speculate, is ostracized due to the un-PC nature of such. China will do it...

The American system blindly squanders Billionz$$ on the bogus PC idea that "gaps can be closed" and "outcomes can be equalized"....

As for hard-wiring, that is merely the term BD uses to try and get thru to the less perceptive that one's genome, particularly that which defines brain development, is fixed at conception. You even acknowledge "the genetic component that contributes to IQ test scores is highly heritable (somewhere around .50)." Actually, when all the environmental noise is filtered out, the correlation will ultimately be around 0.999, just don't have the data yet.

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