Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom is an interesting book, one that is mentioned in Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris, the title and description piqued my interest so I gave it a read.

Summary of Superintelligence

The books describes how we as humans are rulers of the world, top of the food chain not because we are the strongest, fastest or have the sharpest teeth or claws but we are the smartest we are the only ones that can successfully use our brains to adapt and overcome near any challenge that’s presented to us. But what if we inherently invent our own downfall by creating something smarter than us?

How would we attempt to contain such superintelligence? Surely like us it could have the ability to deceive and subvert us as its inherent captors and what would a superintelligence do if given free rein?

My Takeaways from Superintelligence

The book starts quite complex describing the mathematical equations used to create an AI my initial thoughts when reading this was “what on earth have I got myself into, this is way over my head” but alas soon topics move into more theoretical challenges that ask some really tough questions around the creation or invention of a more intelligent being.

It’s a very thought provoking book and I enjoied that aspect many of the what if’s and how would we do this, I found very intresting and dwelled on them a bit while I walked my dog as many of the questions asked could very well become a reality in my lifetime.

Favourite Quotes

“The computer scientist Donald Knuth was struck that “AI has by now succeeded in doing essentially everything that requires ‘thinking’ but has failed to do most of what people and animals do ‘without thinking’—that, somehow, is much harder!”― Nick Bostrom

“Far from being the smartest possible biological species, we are probably better thought of as the stupidest possible biological species capable of starting a technological civilization—a niche we filled because we got there first, not because we are in any sense optimally adapted to it.”― Nick Bostrom

“The gap between a dumb and a clever person may appear large from an anthropocentric perspective, yet in a less parochial view the two have nearly indistinguishable minds.” ― Nick Bostrom

“Nature might be a great experimentalist, but one who would never pass muster with an ethics review board – contravening the Helsinki Declaration and every norm of moral decency, left, right, and centre.” ― Nick Bostrom

Closing Words

I enjoyed the book but would I recommend it probably not, it is pretty niche and can be quite a slog at points, I liked the thought-provoking thoughts it presented, it is never really a genre of book that I have looked at before but if anyone has further suggestions on thought-provoking books let me know in the comments below.

A short post this week, if you are intrested in any of my other posts you can see them here.

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