Quote note (#181)
Hsu waxes optimistic about the coming ecology of explosive intelligence:
… perhaps we will experience a positive feedback loop: Better human minds invent better machine learning methods, which in turn accelerate our ability to improve human DNA and create even better minds. In my own work, I use methods from machine learning (so-called compressed sensing, or convex optimization in high dimensional geometry) to extract predictive models from genomic data. Thanks to recent advances, we can predict a phase transition in the behavior of these learning algorithms, representing a sudden increase in their effectiveness. We expect this transition to happen within about a decade, when we reach a critical threshold of about 1 million human genomes worth of data. Several entities, including the U.S. government’s Precision Medicine Initiative and the private company Human Longevity Inc. (founded by Craig Venter), are pursuing plans to genotype 1 million individuals or more.
The feedback loop between algorithms and genomes will result in a rich and complex world, with myriad types of intelligences at play: the ordinary human (rapidly losing the ability to comprehend what is going on around them); the enhanced human (the driver of change over the next 100 years, but perhaps eventually surpassed); and all around them vast machine intellects, some alien (evolved completely in silico) and some strangely familiar (hybrids). Rather than the standard science-fiction scenario of relatively unchanged, familiar humans interacting with ever-improving computer minds, we will experience a future with a diversity of both human and machine intelligences. For the first time, sentient beings of many different types will interact collaboratively to create ever greater advances, both through standard forms of communication and through new technologies allowing brain interfaces. We may even see human minds uploaded into cyberspace, with further hybridization to follow in the purely virtual realm. These uploaded minds could combine with artificial algorithms and structures to produce an unknowable but humanlike consciousness. Researchers have recently linked mouse and monkey brains together, allowing the animals to collaborate — via an electronic connection — to solve problems. This is just the beginning of “shared thought.”