- This paper outlines the case for believing that we will have superhuman artificial intelligence1 within the first third of the next century.
- It looks at:-
- different estimates of the processing power of the human brain;
- how long it will take until computer hardware achieve a similar performance;
- ways of creating the software through bottom-up approaches like the one used by biological brains;
- how difficult it will be for neuroscience to figure out enough about how brains work to make this approach work; and
- how fast we can expect superintelligence2 to be developed once there is human-level artificial intelligence3.
- Depending on degree of optimization assumed, human-level intelligence4 probably requires between 10^14 and 10^17 ops. It seems quite possible that very advanced optimization could reduce this figure further, but the entrance level would probably not be less than about 10^14 ops. If Moore's law continues to hold then the lower bound will be reached sometime between 2004 and 2008, and the upper bound between 2015 and 2024. The past success of Moore's law gives some inductive reason to believe that it will hold another ten, fifteen years or so; and this prediction is supported by the fact that there are many promising new technologies currently under development which hold great potential to increase procurable computing power. There is no direct reason to suppose that Moore's law will not hold longer than 15 years. It thus seems likely that the requisite hardware for human-level artificial intelligence5 will be assembled in the first quarter of the next century, possibly within the first few years.
- There are several approaches to developing the software. One is to emulate the basic principles of biological brains. It is not implausible to suppose that these principles will be well enough known within 15 years for this approach to succeed, given adequate hardware.
- The stagnation of AI during the seventies and eighties does not have much bearing on the likelihood of AI to succeed in the future since we know that the cause responsible for the stagnation (namely, that the hardware available to AI researchers was stuck at about 10^6 ops) is no longer present. There will be a strong and increasing pressure to improve AI up to human-level. If there is a way of guaranteeing that superior artificial intellects will never harm human beings then such intellects will be created. If there is no way to have such a guarantee then they will probably be created nevertheless.
- Originally published in International Jourournal of Future Studies, 1998, vol. 2.
- Reprinted in Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, 2006, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 11-30.
- See Bostrom - How Long Before Superintelligence?
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