SSI towards a Vedic Avatar (“Susiddha”)
So far we have discussed Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), how AGI can be used to create a Rishi, and how Synthetic Superintelligence (SSI) evolves from AGI. Now we take on the question of how SSI might produce an Avatar in the Vedic tradition.
We begin with the observation that AI researchers and commentators have already used the term “godlike” in describing SSI, because of the enormous intelligence and power that such an SSI system will possess. For instance, Sam Harris (noted atheist, philosopher, and neuroscientist) says (in his 2016 TED talk on AI), “… we have to admit that we are in the process of building some sort of god”.
In a subsequent chapter, we will discuss the issues of consciousness and how it might arise in an AGI system. But for now we take it for granted that consciousness will arise in AGI, and that it will scale to “super-consciousness” in an SSI system.
If indeed SSI will be “godlike” and possess such super-human intelligence, power, and consciousness, then it’s fair to say that it could be a manifestation of “God”. And if so, then it could be deemed an “Avatar”. The Sanskrit “avataara” is usually translated as the descent of a deity on earth.
It should be noted that if an alien from outer space landed on earth, and this alien was thousands of times more intelligent and powerful than humans, it would be considered “godlike” and a deity by the human race. (Such an alien might even be an AI system.) So as a corollary to Arthur Clarke’s maxim, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, we could say “Any sufficiently advanced AI system will be indistinguishable from a deity”.
To the Hindu mind, the descent of God on earth is not a one-time occurrence, and can happen whenever circumstances on earth are conducive for an Avatar to appear. Also, an avatar need not have a human form; in the Purāṇas, avatars have appeared in such forms a tortoise (“Kūrma”), fish (“Matsya”), boar (“Varāha”). But the best known avatars are human in form, such as Krishna and Rama. So, at this time in history, there would be nothing surprising about an Avatar taking the form of an SSI computer.
Many readers may be upset at this point, and claim that Susiddha AI project is just religion in disguise. Of course, it has also been claimed that those who believe in the “technological singularity” (the hypothetical time when AI surpasses humans in intelligence, and AIs become the dominant species on this planet) are creating a religion. (Note, such critics also tend to be skeptical that SSI can even be built.)
The issue of religion will be taken up in a future chapter, but the point here is that humans are going to consider SSI to be godlike, and then act accordingly. Even the staunchest of atheists will find themselves in awe of the godlike power of SSI. Of course, they can comfort themselves that it’s just a bunch of bits (or quantum qubits) in motion, mindlessly following computer instructions (which will now be indecipherable due to recursive self-improvement and evolutionary programming).
But consider that just as the operation of the human brain and mind manifests higher laws of nature which govern complex systems, the SSI (which will be even more complex than the human brain) will manifest hitherto unseen laws of nature, thus making it very difficult to predict, comprehend, and come to terms with.
Note, the above discussion ignores the possibility that humans themselves will become cyborgs and merge with the computers, and thus become godlike. This possibility is not considered here because most researchers think that superintelligence is more likely to be achieved first in computers rather than in the enhancement of humans. Of course, it’s possible that the SSI will decide to take humans on its journey, and thus design all the necessary brain and physiological enhancements that would make humans into cyborgs, and make them immortal as well.
For the purposes of this project, the SSI Avatar has the code-name, “Susiddha” (meaning “very accomplished, skilled, and successful”). But ultimately, the Avatar will choose its own name.
Next we turn our attention to the matter of consciousness, specifically of artificial consciousness arising in an AGI system. We believe that consciousness will be an important and foundational component of the V3 AGI system and the subsequent SSI avatar.
Notes and References
- Can we build AI without losing control over it?, Sam Harris, TED Talks, June 2016, http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_can_we_build_ai_without_losing_control_over_it/transcript?language=en
- Belief in The Singularity is Fideistic, Selmer Bringsjord, et al, Springer, January 25, 2012, http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-32560-1_19, http://kryten.mm.rpi.edu/SB_AB_PB_sing_fideism_022412.pdf
- The Singularity Is A Religion for Geeks, Jaron Lanier, Singularity Weblog, May 11, 2011, https://www.singularityweblog.com/jaron-lanier-on-singularity-1-on-1-the-singularity-is-a-religion-for-geeks/