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Home » The Case For Alien AI: James Evans (Transcript)

The Case For Alien AI: James Evans (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of James Evans’s talk titled “The Case For Alien AI” at TEDxChicago conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Today’s AI Landscape

Today is the age of artificial intelligence. ChatGPT captivated the world last November, and new AI services are emerging daily to automate and alter human tasks, ranging from computer programming to journalism to art to science and invention. AI is transforming both routine and creative tasks and promises to change the unfolding future of work.

As creatives, professionals, scientists, and citizens, what kind of AI do we want? Do we want artificial humanoid intelligence that mimics human logic and intuition like the imitation game imagined by computer scientist Alan Turing? Here, artificial intelligence and machines mimic human capacity and learn from prior experience. The problem with this perspective is that it places a bullseye on human capacity.

Over the last more than 100,000 years, 100 billion people have collaborated and competed with each other in nature. More than 8 billion people are alive today. And yet, with more people and resources devoted to scientific and technical advance than ever before, and with declining rates of labor productivity and radical advance across the sciences as these graphs suggest, artificial intelligence that mimics and substitutes for human capacity maximizes the potential for unemployment and minimizes our capacity to think differently.

Alternatively, do we want an unflappable, objective AI, a Spock or Data-like droid to feed us superhuman, rational recommendations that transcend our biases and allow us to see things clearly? The problem with this view is that it assumes that one true perspective exists and floats above our human concerns and experiences, but there is no perspective that exists outside of perspectives or that contains all perspectives equally, and if it did, it would be irrelevant to us.

Seeking New Perspectives

It wouldn’t care about the things that we care about. Is there another option? Consider the last time that you experienced an “aha” moment? Did it involve learning a surprising insight that turned something surprising into something unsurprising? When you want to discover something new, how often do you seek out someone with a different perspective?

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