A reading club with a view to the future

146 Nick Bostrom: Superintelligence

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance, the possibility of creating a superintelligent machine becomes increasingly likely, with potentially profound consequences for humanity.

Nick Bostrom: Superintelligence


"Superintelligence" explores the potential risks and benefits of developing artificial intelligence beyond human levels of intelligence, and offers strategies for ensuring that this development benefits humanity rather than threatening it.


Title: Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Author: Nick Bostrom

Published in: 2014 

Published by: Oxford University Press

Length of: 14 hours and 17 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The potential dangers of superintelligence, including existential risks to humanity.
  2. The concept of an "intelligence explosion" and its potential implications for the future of AI.
  3. The limitations of human intelligence in understanding and controlling superintelligent machines.
  4. The need for coordination and cooperation among researchers and stakeholders in the development of superintelligence.
  5. Possible strategies for mitigating the risks of superintelligence, including developing "friendly" AI and ensuring transparency and democratic control over AI research.
Nick Bostrom: Superintelligence

5 funny quotes

  1. "There's an idea that bad news is somehow more real than good news."
  2. "I've always found the concept of 'brain uploading' ridiculous, since it presupposes that the brain is a kind of computer that can be peeled off the body and uploaded to a server somewhere."
  3. "To get to superintelligence, we will need to improve our own intelligence and learn to think more coherently and rigorously."
  4. "The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else."
  5. "It is possible to design a computer program to perform any well-defined task better than any human can perform that task."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The point of AI is not to win games but to solve problems that currently can't be solved."
  2. "Once a machine can do any work a man can do, and do it cheaper, the man is displaced, and the horses are unemployed."
  3. "The prospect of superintelligence and the singularity may be terrifying, but it is not a reason to reject progress."
  4. "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."
  5. "Our world faces a pivotal moment when smart machines will surpass human intelligence. Will they work to empower us or eradicate us?"

5 dilemmas

  1. The control problem: how can we ensure that a superintelligent AI system will behave in ways that align with human values and goals?
  2. The value alignment problem: how can we specify what we want a superintelligent AI system to do, especially given the difficulty of capturing human values in a precise and unambiguous way?
  3. The security problem: how can we prevent a superintelligent AI system from being hacked or co-opted by malicious actors?
  4. The existential risk problem: how can we mitigate the risk that a superintelligent AI system will pose an existential threat to humanity?
  5. The employment problem: how can we ensure that the benefits of AI and automation are broadly distributed, rather than concentrated among a small group of owners and investors?

5 examples

  1. AlphaGo, a computer program that defeated a world champion in the game of Go.
  2. Watson, an AI system developed by IBM that famously competed on Jeopardy! against human champions.
  3. Sophia, a humanoid robot developed by Hanson Robotics that can simulate human conversation and express emotions.
  4. Tesla Autopilot, a suite of advanced driver assistance features that can control a car on the highway.
  5. The DARPA Robotics Challenge, a competition to develop robots that could perform tasks in a disaster scenario.

Referenced books

  1. "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig
  2. "The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology" by Ray Kurzweil
  3. "The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World" by Pedro Domingos
  4. "Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era" by James Barrat
  5. "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" by Max Tegmark

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"The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else."

Nick Bostrom: Superintelligence
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