"Biological Intelligence is a Fleeting Phase in the Evolution of the Universe" (Holiday Weekend Feature)
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November 29, 2013

"Biological Intelligence is a Fleeting Phase in the Evolution of the Universe" (Holiday Weekend Feature)

 

Brainsky

 


During an epoch of dramatic climate change 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens (modern humans) evolved in Africa. Several leading scientists are asking: Is the human species entering a new evolutionary, post-biological inflection point? Paul Davies, a British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative at Arizona State University, says that any aliens exploring the universe will be AI-empowered machines. Not only are machines better able to endure extended exposure to the conditions of space, but they have the potential to develop intelligence far beyond the capacity of the human brain.

"I think it very likely – in fact inevitable – that biological intelligence is only a transitory phenomenon, a fleeting phase in the evolution of the universe," Davies writes in The Eerie Silence. "If we ever encounter extraterrestrial intelligence, I believe it is overwhelmingly likely to be post-biological in nature."

In the current search for advanced extraterrestrial life SETI experts say the odds favor detecting alien AI rather than biological life because the time between aliens developing radio technology and artificial intelligence would be brief.

“If we build a machine with the intellectual capability of one human, then within 5 years, its successor is more intelligent than all humanity combined,” says Seth Shostak, SETI chief astronomer. “Once any society invents the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are at most only a few hundred years away from changing their own paradigm of sentience to artificial intelligence,” he says.

ET machines would be infinitely more intelligent and durable than the biological intelligence that created them. Intelligent machines would be immortal, and would not need to exist in the carbon-friendly “Goldilocks Zones” current SETI searches focus on. An AI could self-direct its own evolution, each "upgrade" would be created with the sum total of its predecessor’s knowledge preloaded.

"I think we could spend at least a few percent of our time... looking in the directions that are maybe not the most attractive in terms of biological intelligence but maybe where sentient machines are hanging out." Shostak thinks SETI ought to consider expanding its search to the energy- and matter-rich neighborhoods of hot stars, black holes and neutron stars.

Before the year 2020, scientists are expected to launch intelligent space robots that will venture out to explore the universe for us.

"Robotic exploration probably will always be the trail blazer for human exploration of far space," says Wolfgang Fink, physicist and researcher at Caltech. "We haven't yet landed a human being on Mars but we have a robot there now. In that sense, it's much easier to send a robotic explorer. When you can take the human out of the loop, that is becoming very exciting."

The Daily Galaxy via The Eerie Silence and astrobio.net

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Comments

We are more likely to achieve biological immortality, here defined as arbitrarily long lifespans, before we develop the first AI. Computers are still pretty much as unintelligent as they were when the program 'Eliza' was developed. The tricks have gotten bigger and better, but they remain tricks. We will be improving biological intelligence in preference to moving to a non-biological substrate for the simple reason that we evolved to live in a body, without the body we are no longer human.

Are we really expected to believe that man evolved some 200,000 years ago (depending on which report you believe)?! And according to this article, evolve our "Super Brain" 75,000 years ago!

Mankind has always wrote about history, we love to read the news (one day old history and beyond). But most civilizations began writing things down a mere 5,000 years ago, like the Egyptians, Chinese, Jews, Babylonians and even the First Nations from places and countries that most didn't even know the others existed, supposedly.

Why is it that during 97% (195,000 years) of our so-called existence, mankind never wrote down anything, but during the last 3% (5,000 years), mankind has exploded with historical documentation in great detail and intelligence? What happened during our so-called "Super Brain" stage for over 70,000 years before someone (all over the world all at the same time for that matter) got the idea to write everything down?

Did man just get the idea all of a sudden to write things down?! It would really stretch the imagination to believe such a hypothesis.

I would suggest that man did not evolve over this time period and was created in the image of God (with intelligence) and began almost immediately to write historical documents right away. Hence why we have so much historical records all beginning virtually at the same time scattered all over the world... and not even in heart of Africa which we supposedly came from. Go figure!

@Farticustheelder

hey man, I think your insights will serve you well. To me, it seems that all culture and society have existed for at least 10,500 years per evidence of "ancient civiliations". You may want to look into the work of Graham Hancock titled Fingerprints of the Gods.

Another interesting read I am just finishing accounts for this "Super Brain" development stage in Terence McKenna's classic, Food of the Gods.

Do yourself a favor and check it out!!

A "crazy" theory I've heard discusses (bear with me..please) our creation as you say, "in the image of God", which I think is absolutely right on.

One of the more interesting claims about the bible that I've heard references the work of a South African man and archaeological pioneer by the name of Michael Tellinger. Tellinger suggests that the original Hebrew translation that, "in the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth." is a reference to "other world" or "higher dimensional" beings which have subsequently sculpted our existence on the planet.

To me, his theories plug up a lot of holes in our knowledge of the past and lets me believe in a wonderful future for all of humanity if we come to some fundamental understandings about our origins and nature as creatures AND beings on and "of" this planet. Tellinger's work is extremely compelling, as he(to my limited knowledge on this topic) discusses one of the oldest AND largest gold mining operations in the world(South Africa and Zimbabwe).

If his theories are not entirely accurate, I believe he is at least asking the right questions and is "solving" many of the great "mysteries" of the world with time and dedication. He explains many of the ornate and "supernatural"(if we're still using that term.. :P) stone circles of time immemorial..

Thanks! Good luck! hope this helps..

-GB

shoot me a line if you have any questions, theories, or book recommendations or other media you'd like to share!! Thanks so much!! <3

Is it not bad enough to read articles riddled with science fiction subtly suggested to be fact, then endure all these god of the gaps cop outs as well? look, if we can't even cite reason and demonstrable evidence in our search for the truth we are not brave enough, at least not yet, to deserve the answers. i submit to you the three main causes of invincible ignorance. 1) circular logic, 2) non-sequitors, and 3) (deduction from the particular to the general. get rid of these, or be left holding an empty sack.

Once again, the scientists at the extreme have finally caught up with the science fiction writers of the 40's, 50's and 60's. For a good look at the possibilities, read "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov. Even though it's more than 50 years old, Asimov dealt with most the issues surrounding the creation of intelligent machines, including how we would use them to get to the stars.

I keep seeing the headline repeated every so often and every time I think the same thing: Who's going to tell the biological processes they're only fleeting? Do they not have a say in the matter?

I mean, okay, so we can build fanciful machines to explore the cosmos. But - is that really The End of biological evolution? Or will we get "sucker punched" by some unforeseen surprise?

Personally, my money's on the latter. I don't thin we're half as smart about biological and genetic processes as we think we are. And with even bacteria showing the ability to borrow genes from other bacteria that confer immunity to antibiotics, the next epidemic (one where modern medicine may be completely useless) may be just around the corner. And "higher" forms of life are even more complex. So... isn't it just a little arrogant to think we're beyond all that now because we can code some silicon?

Any one ever wonder why some humans feel the need to attempt star travel? Intelligent robots would be the only way to do it on these one way missions. Even if a way is found to place humans in a medical coma for the 10-20 years(assuming we achieve 10% of light speed) it would take months of rehab to recover. Other than to satisfy our insecurity about if and how other life developed what else is there to do if some form of intelligent/technological life is found. It isn't like we would be able to establish or afford decades long trade routes with these people. Maybe we haven't detected communications or traveling starship light streaks out in the galaxy because they discovered it really isn't necessary or they have found ways to navigate around space/time instead of through it.

@Wolffe Actually there are recorded scriptures dating farther back than 5000 years. There called paintings, and some of them date 100,000 years back. its only in the last 5000 years that we have come to understand what was being written.

We are already essentially robots. We've been programmed to be extremely efficient, so we make use of all the materials surrounding us to stay alive. Once we master genetics and DNA encoding it would be easy enough to grow a human to need less oxygen or to withstand harsher conditions in general. And if we grow a human in a lab we could try all sorts of things like a larger brain than would otherwise be able to be pushed out of a uterus, etc. A well engineered biologically-based robot will always trump what we currently consider as 'AI'. We could just as easily reach a biological singularity as well, where we genetically engineer the smartest person on earth, who in their lifetime will themselves engineer one much smarter than themselves (and so on). You should also remember that humans will evolve many more times before the life expectancy of the solar system is met, if we are careful with the earth's resources we will be much smarter and faster within a few million years even without manually mucking with evolution.


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