Full text of philosopher Nick Bostrom’s talk: What Happens When Our Computers Get Smarter Than We Are? at TED Talks conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Nick Bostrom on What happens when our computers get smarter than we are at TED
I work with a bunch of mathematicians, philosophers and computer scientists, and we sit around and think about the future of machine intelligence, among other things. Some people think that some of these things are sort of science fiction-y, far out there, crazy. But I like to say, okay, let’s look at the modern human condition. This is the normal way for things to be.
But if we think about it, we are actually recently arrived guests on this planet, the human species. Think about if Earth was created one year ago, the human species, then, would be 10 minutes old. The industrial era started two seconds ago.
Another way to look at this is to think of world GDP over the last 10,000 years, I’ve actually taken the trouble to plot this for you in a graph. It looks like this. It’s a curious shape for a normal condition. I sure wouldn’t want to sit on it.
Let’s ask ourselves, what is the cause of this current anomaly? Some people would say it’s technology. Now it’s true, technology has accumulated through human history, and right now, technology advances extremely rapidly — that is the proximate cause, that’s why we are currently so very productive. But I like to think back further to the ultimate cause.