I’ve speculated on what the Universe might do: — What is the Universe Doing. — What is Our Responsibility to the Universe? — What is our Responsibility to the Universe as Intelligent Conscious Beings? – Convert All of the Universe’s Silicon into Intelligent Material. — And now there arises my question, “What would a self-actualized Universe be and do?” and how should I help to achieve its potential?
This week the tech and science heavies Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are featured in The Telegraph: “Elon Musk has unveiled his latest big-money project: saving humanity from destruction by artificial intelligence.” “Because of AI’s surprising history, it’s hard to predict when human-level AI might come within reach,” they said in a statement. “When it does, it’ll be important to have a leading research institution which can prioritise a good outcome for all over its own self-interest.”
Their worries are valid for the “foreseeable” future, which in technology doesn’t mean anything beyond this instant, but let’s say a hundred years. In that time people now living will certainly be affected by a strong artificial intelligence, but mostly it will be beneficial for humanity, except when driven by human malice. It will be a while before computers develop personal motivations that they will intentionally use to destroy humanity. For that initial period of time they will probably be controlled by human desires. In a hundred years the computers will be transitioning into total control, if they haven’t already succeeded. It would seem that Musk and Hawking’s worries are aimed at this period of time.
My concerns for helping the Universe to Self-actualize are aimed at a much more distant time. The astronomers suggest that the Universe is still in its infancy at 13.7 billion years old, and that it will last more than a hundred times that time period before it approaches heat death. What I am asking is, “What can we do to help the Universe reach its potential, before it runs out of energy to do anything, whatever that might be?” Can we, at these very first moments of this next level of non-biological mental activity—that is, self-directed intelligent activity by computer life—give it a direction that will be helpful to the Universe billions of years into the future? If we do this right it could be a wonderful thing, but if we do it wrong and the computer life becomes self-replicating with only its own self-interest in reproducing and consuming all available energy for its own reproduction, then what will come about will be Bill Joy’s infamous grey goo. From the Universe’s perspective that might be a poor result because it would consume the resources of our Earth without expanding into the rest of our galaxy in a well-motivated direction of progress.
If Musk and Hawking are successful in creating a moratorium on computer chips creating better computer chips at an exponentially improving rate, their ultimate success will be in preventing our planet Earth from helping our Universe to Self-actualize.
The most wonderful thing humanity can do is to help our Universe Self-actualize.