Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life. The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful - possibly beyond our control. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.
But we have one advantage: We get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed Artificial Intelligence, to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?
This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom's work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.
©2014 Nick Bostrom (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Letting the rest of the world go by
This book is more frightening than any book you'll ever read. The author makes a great case for what the future holds for us humans. I believe the concepts in "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil are mostly spot on, but the one area Kurzweil dismisses prematurely is how the SI (superintelligent advanced artificial intelligence) entity will react to its circumstances.
The book doesn't really dwell much on how the SI will be created. The author mostly assumes a computer algorithm of some kind with perhaps human brain enhancements. If you reject such an SI entity prima facie this book is not for you, since the book mostly deals with assuming such a recursive self aware and self improving entity will be in humanities future.
The author makes some incredibly good points. He mostly hypothesizes that the SI entity will be a singleton and not allow others of its kind to be created independently and will happen on a much faster timeline after certain milestones are fulfilled.
The book points out how hard it is to put safeguards into a procedure to guard against unintended consequences. For example, making 'the greater good for the greatest many' the final goal can lead to unintended consequence such as allowing a Nazi ruled world (he doesn't give that example directly in the book, and I borrow it from Karl Popper who gave it as a refutation for John Stuart Mill's utilitarian philosophy). If the goal is to make us all smile, the SI entity might make brain probes that force us to smile. There is no easy end goal specifiable without unintended consequences.
This kind of thinking within the book is another reason I can recommend the book. As I was listening, I realized that all the ways we try to motivate or control an SI entity to be moral can also be applied to us humans in order to make us moral to. Morality is hard both for us humans and for future SI entities.
There's a movie from the early 70s called "Colossus: The Forbin Project", it really is a template for this book, and I would recommend watching the movie before reading this book.
I just recently listened to the book, "Our Final Invention" by James Barrat. That book covers the same material that is presented in this book. This book is much better even though they overlap very much. The reason why is this author, Nick Bostrom, is a philosopher and knows how to lay out his premises in such a way that the story he is telling is consistent, coherent, and gives a narrative to tie the pieces together (even if the narrative will scare the daylights out of the listener).
This author has really thought about the problems inherent in an SI entity, and this book will be a template for almost all future books on this subject.
There is not much math in this book, not many pictures or tables. Usually this is a good indicator that I'll be able to follow along in an audio version. That was not true of this book. I listen to audiobooks while doing menial tasks involving infrequent and brief moments of concentration, with most books I am able to do this easily, but this book requires some pondering and digestion. Any distraction seemed to be enough to miss something important. Perhaps some of this was due to narrator's smooth baratone which - for reasons I don't know - I didn't like. I plan on getting the hard copy and reading this one in silence. This book is definitely a must read, but it also seems it must be read slowly. Put it down, think about it, talk about it with your friends, then and only then on to the next chapter.
Nick Bostrom's, Superintelligence takes you on a journey through a sea of terminology and educated predictions to provide a stark and clear picture of the problems we face as a species as we approach singularity. The book is easy enough to work though and much more theoretical and practical than technical. Absolutely worth a read/listen for anyone worried or curious about how, when, or why machine intelligence will change humanity.
I wish it was, but it only takes a couple of minutes before my mind starts wandering and the narrator is just idle background noise.
Read the book instead of listen to it.
The narrator speaks clearly and eloquently but the tone and meter were just impossible for me to enjoy. He didn't appear to be at all interested or passionate about the subject matter and instead just sounded like he was reading a script full of Star Trek technobabble and was just completely bored.
Very well narrated and written, this outline of the scenarios for superintelligent AI emergence is both intriguing and haunting. Bostrom paints an excellent picture if what a post-superintellgent world may look like, and the perils of waiting until that world arrives to begin serious consideration of how to control such agents and avoid existential catastrophe.
The comprehensive approach the author has taken to illucidate pitfalls associated with developing artificial general intelligence is spectacular in its detail.
Understanding theoretical outcomes such as "infrustructure profusion" will give the reader insight into the challenges that we face and the risks associated with superintelligent technology.
Superintelligence is a good sized file and for me it was best broken up into bit sized chunks. After absorbing the intial blow to the mind I feel quite sure I will revisit this book again soon.
The authors detail and overwhelming consideration of likelihood and possibility. I was glad that It didn't beat you to death with a depressingly hopeless tone and rhetoric. Giving the topic to you straight.
This book is the book that 'Our Final Invention' was supposed to be and then some. Superintelligence far surpasses the bar set in this genre. Thoroughly breaking down with methodical delivery of the problems of AGI.
No, it was essential to stop and reflect on sections and arguments he made. This book is very dense. If I was distracted at all I'd find myself lost and need to rewind and review parts. Sometimes even reviewing sections multiple times. This isn't a criticism of the author or the writing, but rather comes inherent to the subject matter.
Many believe super intelligent A.I. is going to happen within a century. This book explores what that might mean for humanity.
My mind definitely was blown by a bunch of ideas I encountered here, so I recommend this book on that basis. That said, it moves slowly because the author invests so much energy it being thorough and always making the technically correct statement (lots of: if, likely to, maybe, under the condition etc. etc.) it's rigorous, but in my view unnecessary because I'm a forgiving reader and don't need all statements to be qualified.
Great content which only occasionally failed to keep my attention. Probably a very important book none the less. Recommended to all wanting to learn and not necessarily be entertained
"Great book with thoughtful considerations"
I loved the first few chapters, this gave a great outline of where we are up to with the relevant technologies and what the obstacles are for progression. I would recommend buying the book for this even if it consisted of only the first 4-5 chapters.
My only criticism would be that the author fixated a little on the idea of a superintelligence with a very simple goal system e.g. making as many paperclips as possible. My own view is that in the process of recursive self improvement the AI's goal system would develop in line with the rest of it's intellect and it would end up with more sophisticated, not more simplistic goals than humans. This could of course bring it's own risks and is inherently unpredictable, but doesn't necessarily equate to the default of existential catastrophe asserted in the book.
It is of course expected that there will be different views on this and that my own may be wrong.
"The best book on AI that I know"
No comparison for me, this is the best AI book for me.
Mostly, it made me THINK. A lot.
This is a factual book. But the reader reads it like it's Lord of the rings! It's really distracting and I have no idea how this was signed off.
"Deeply Insightful and very thorough. Bad narration"
For anyone interested in AI it is a must-read as it covers many possible scenarios that the reader would have never been able to imagine without consulting this book.
However it's not ideal for beginners. Bostrom introduces the concept of superintelligence assuming that the reader is familiar with artificial intelligence, and quickly moves onto scenarios and existential risk.
The narrator makes no effort to put emotions into what he says. Every sentence, and every statement sound the same no matter what the topic is about. Listening to it is more akin to a text-to-speech narration than a storyteller.Admittedly, the Swedish syntax of short sentences does not help. Nevertheless, narration could be greatly improved.
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