Intelligence and Transhumanism

Our brains are hardwired to match patterns, in particular visual patterns. This is true to such a degree that when shown a surface with a random collection of dots strewn upon it we will see faces in it. This facility evolved to help us quickly assess dangerous situations without having to stop and think about them. For example, if we see a partial image of a tiger running through the underbrush towards us, we won’t stop to weigh the weight of the visual evidence at hand. Instead we will jump to the conclusion that there is a tiger after us and if we don’t do something quickly, like run, we’re liable to be its supper.

Having such a facile pattern matching talent at our disposal we don’t appreciate how difficult it is to match patterns. On the other hand, such intellectual feats as multiplying large numbers together in our head or using logic to deduce new facts from ones we already know we hold in high esteem due to the amount of effort required for us to accomplish them. Of course some people are better at mathematics or reasoning than others. But in general such skills are mostly learned rather than being inbred.

Imagine now a machine intelligence, built on a foundation of Boolean logic and having basic arithmetic hard wired into its brain. Might it be that such an intelligence would view pattern matching and imagination in the same kind of high regard that humans give logic and mathematical ability?

We all adapt to make the most of the capabilities that we are born with. Through much study and hard practice we can acquire mental skills that we are not born with. It is reasonable to expect that machine intelligences will also develop skills that they don’t inherently have. What’s more, they may even extend their fundamental, built in capabilities to assist them with new talents as they come to understand them and their usefulness in interacting with the world and other intelligent entities.

And by the same token, we have augmented our abilities by building mind appliances, otherwise known as computers, calculators, and cell phones, to help us with the mental skills that we struggle with. It is reasonable to expect that this trend will continue and as we learn more about how our brain works, we will invent ways to augment them directly with brain augmentation hardware. The question isn’t if, but rather when it becomes available.

I look forward to that time. I am very conservative about going under the knife for elective surgery but this is a case where I would gladly do it. I believe that one of the ways to functional immortality is to slowly augment your brain until your personality slowly inhabits the immortal hardware that initially was your augmentations.

To read more about such augmentations, in theory and in practice, look up Transhumanism on Wikipedia. There are numerous references to other sources there. The future comes quicker than we can imagine and never holds exactly what we expect.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.