Something new? AIs and us

Something new? AIs and us


Screenshot 2015-06-26 15.37.12

It is tempting to align oneself with the wisdom of the “nihil novum sub sole” (there is nothing new under the sun) stance. But once in a while there are truly new things around us, and it is crucially important to recognize them and to be able to properly understand them. The forthcoming era of artificial intelligences is such a fundamental new component in our world.

I’ve signed with the Italian publisher Hoepli for a book to be published in the fall around the themes of the Technological Singularity and of Artificial Intelligence. They will take care of the Italian edition, and generously agreed to both me keeping the international rights for its English edition as well as in other languages, and for the book being written and available openly for anybody to read, comment and participate in as a platform.

You can start looking at the book drafts as they develop in time on its own website at http://singularitybook.net. The working title of the book is “Something New? – AIs and us: the coming age when “there is nothing new under the sun” is not true anymore”.

The platform that I chose for the book is also interesting, Gitbook, as it allows an integration with Github, and highlights the need and a solution for proper version control in the book writing process.

The current outline of the book is around the themes of technology, AI, and the evolution of the individual and society:

# Introduction
# Interview
# Technology created man
## A fiery start
## The dinosaurs didn’t have telescopes
## Not a zero-sum game
## Access to the sacred text of your DNA
## The proactionary principle
## Adapted or unadapted civilizations
## Unsustainability is unsustainable
# Methods of knowledge
## The fatal error of the alchemists
## Open science
## The evolution of science
# Exponential change
## Exponential examples from the past
## Ray Kurzweil’s project
# Artificial intelligence
## The Mechanical Turk of Hungarian Wolfgang von Kempelen
## Expert systems and restricted artificial intelligence
# General artificial intelligence
## Rapid take-off
## Slow take-off
## The intelligence explosion
## Is super intelligence uncontrollable?
# The power of evolution
## Biological evolution
## The genetic drive to reproduce
## The evolution of knowledge
## The memetic drive for knowledge
## Universal Darwinism
## Is the universe evolving?
## What did Fermi and his colleagues talk about in the desert?
## Where is the Great Filter? (David Brin)
# Man-machine co-evolution
# Intelligence Augmentation (IA, not just AI)
# Let’s make ourselves dispensable!
# The future of the definition of man and humanity
# Necessary transhumanism?
# The need for science and engineering of morality
# Toward a materialist spirituality
# What to do today?
## Understand, learn, teach
## Test, make mistakes
## Open up, adapt
## Business and artificial intelligence
## Society and artificial intelligence
## The individual and artificial intelligence
# What to do tomorrow?
## Following a path with open eyes
## Diversities and tolerance
## New dignities
## Emancipation
## Freedom evolves, says Dennett
# What to do the day after tomorrow?
## A radical extension of life
## When the sun goes out
## Adaptation, individual and self-perception
## A guarantee: the path will never end (Goedel)
## Hic sunt leones? The porous map of reality
# Are you with us?
# Essential reading
# Online sources
# Index

(With Gitbook’s support, I am getting accustomed at using the simple and expressive markdown syntax for text.)

In the image there is a preliminary cover of the book. The photo was supposed to be a robotic hand opening the door, with the entire figure being invisible behind the door frame: it represents the unknown arriving.

This post is also available in: Italian