SOS #22    J. Morris Hicks    (9-11-19)  
Is rapidly-advancing AI a good thing?
Yes, I believe that it is, although it definitely has risks. Yet despite those risks, I believe that the potential benefits of AI in our future justifies embracing it now - as I will explain later in this post. 

Nine months ago, Elon Musk had this to say about AI in a 30-minute video interview:

I'm very close to the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me. It's capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential.


Whether you're a fan of Elon Musk or not, there is no doubt that the man knows a great deal about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to AI. 

This just in: 4-minute video of Musk talking about the dangers of AI (posted yesterday)

For me, his message is encouraging because I think our future as a species could ultimately depend on how quickly, and how successfully we can get AGI (artificial general intelligence) actively involved in helping all of humanity maximize  our chances of surviving longterm as a species?

New James Cameron Film premieres 9-16
Click image above to get tickets to this powerful film premiering Monday. No matter what we do, we'll NEVER live sustainably on this planet unless we stop eating animals.

Dr. James Lovelock seems to agree about the importance of the role that AI could play in our future as a species. 

You may remember this quote in my 8-28-19 post about the cyborgs two weeks ago - the most relevant quote from his new book, 
Novacene:

If I am right about the Gaia hypothesis and the Earth is indeed a self-regulating system, then the continued survival of our species will depend on the acceptance of Gaia by the cyborgs. In their own interests, they will be obliged to join us in the project to keep the planet cool. They will also realize that the available mechanism for achieving this is organic life. This is why I believe the idea of a war between humans and machines or simply the extermination of us by them is highly unlikely. Not because of our imposed rules, but because of their own self-interest, they will be eager to maintain our species as collaborators.

Dr. James Lovelock, Scientist, Engineer, & Inventor

In my opinion, the most critical problem that continues to plague us is our refusal to take urgent action on what the scientists have been telling us about climate change for decades - a desperate situation in which a fully-informed, unbiased AI component on the team could be a game changer.

How terrifying is climage change? A leading climate economist, Martin Weitizman, who passed away on August 27, put it this way in his 2015 book, Climate Shock. From his obituary in the New York Times:

Most everything we know tells us climate change is bad. Most everything we don't know tells us it's probably much worse.

Speaking of things probably being much worse, the IPCC (climage change) group of the UN, has been far too conservative in their reporting for much too long. In this ten-year old, four-minute video, Dr. Lovelock describes how they have consistently failed to properly advise the public of the eminent dangers we are facing.

With the sea-level rise chart shown below, he illustrates how the IPCC has not been sufficiently alerting the public to the grave dangers we are all facing from what some are beginning to call "abrupt climate change." 

4-Minute Video from Dr. Lovelock (2009)
James lovelock; Climate change and mass human die-off #1
James lovelock; Climate change and mass human die-off

With things getting worse at a record pace, m aybe the miracle of artificial general intelligence (AGI) is coming of age at just the moment in time to help us avoid the extinction of our relatively young species.

So, instead of worrying about AI getting too smart, too powerful and too autonomous too quickly, perhaps the world's leading AI organizations (whether academic, business, government or partnership) should place their primary emphasis on figuring out how best to use it safely. 

They should work together to leverage the ever-expanding analytical and cognitive power of AI to tell us what we must do in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change AND exactly how we must totally reinvent our civilization (adaptation) in order to survive.  

What are our chances? As I have stated before, without the amazing power of AI to help us adapt to the worst effects of climate change, I believe that the odds are fairly high that we will fail - for two primary reasons: 195 countries and thousands of religions - most of whom seem to disagree with all the others on just about everything.

Given unprecedented animosity along with vast differences in values, how could a global contingent of humans possibly collaborate enough to even have a ghost of a chance of adapting to the enormous climate change disruptions that are heading our way? I don't think that we will and that is why we need the help of all that the AI community can deliver. And we need it NOW.

As for AI coming of age, I would like to share the latest AI documentary - a thirty minute  video that was launched on YouTube on August 24, 2019. It is entitled Rise of the Machines and was  produced in partnership with gaia.com. An introduction:

In this Documentary, we explore the race to perfect AI machinery. Researchers believe that very soon a "singularity" will be created - a machine that rises beyond human control. Something uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in catastrophic changes to human civilization.

The question everyone is thinking/worrying about is when that "singularity" will be reached and how we can harness its incredible power for the good of humankind and for the future of the biosystem that supports us? Also, how can we make sure that those cyborgs who might be helpful in saving us - don't end up destroying all humans?

This documentary probes those questions and more.

(A.I) 2020 Rise of the Machines | Artificial
(A.I) 2020 Rise of the Machines | Artificial "Super" Intelligence Documentary

If you don't have time to watch this video now, perhaps you can come back to it later. In the meantime, I will share a few of the early lines, beginning at the two-minute mark:
  • In the race to perfect AI machinery, researchers believe that very soon a singularity will be created - that is, a machine that rises beyond human control, something uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in catastrophic changes to human civilization.
  • The technological "singularity" is a hypothetical date at which the machines that we're building become smarter than we are and begin to accelerate and take on their own evolution - going into an exponential rate.  
  • Scientists used to believe that we were decades away from achieving the singularity; however, recent advancements in AI that they thought were decades away, have actually come to fruition - suggesting that the singularity could in fact be closer than we believe.
The Bottom Line.   Given the scientific certainty of the climate change crisis ahead of us, I have concluded that we must be willing to take some calculated risks associated with AI in order to maximize our chances for survival. Let's talk about those chances.

Two weeks ago, near the end of  SOS Memo #20, I made this statement:

My preliminary conclusion is that we will have a much better chance of surviving indefinitely if we can figure out a way to peacefully harness the incredible power of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). If that means that some good-natured cyborgs will ultimately "manage" the planet, then so be it.

After more research during the past two weeks, I offer the following, revised conclusion:

I won't say that we have zero chance of survival without a major AI component as we develop and execute mitigation and adaptation plans, but I will throw out a hypothetical scenario to consider:

If it were established that we have less than a 5% chance of survival without major AI participation in the process - and if our survival chances would increase to 40% or more with AI's incomparable power, speed, objectivity and precision - what would we do?

If the above numbers were deemed reaonably accurate, it would seem that we would really have no other choice but to go for it. We also must consider the fact that no matter what we do, with our without AI, we may have waited far too long to get started.

Today is Nine-Eleven. Unless we urgently address climate change now, the disaster we suffered 18 years ago on this date will pale in comparison to what the entire world will endure during the next 18 years. 

******************

My first blog on the crucial topic of totally reinventing our civilization,  posted 9-21-18, heads the list below. Since then, I have posted more than forty additional pieces on that topic, including this one on 9-4-19 in which I introduced the GBN (Great Big Northern) - one 25-mile wide corridor along the USA's northernmost border that would theroetically be capable of sustainably housing ALL 300+ million Americans in an area the size of Oregon.  

You can find all of my SOS Memos at this page on my website. Here are a few of them:
As always, I will continue to focus on this crucial topic - in my research, my writing and my speaking.   

As for speaking, I continue to search for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future - and their role in making that vision come true.

As such, I will travel anywhere for an opportunity to speak to one or more groups in each city that I visit. I only ask for travel expense reimbursement and a modest honorarium.


Recently scheduled: A  VegFest in Sedona, Arizona in January.

As for the specifics of my topic, I invite you to  contact me directly  about how I might tailor my presentation to best suit an audience you may have in mind: 

Universities,  churches,  think-tanks, legislative bodies, environmental  organizations, alumni associations, leadership clubs,  and/or civic groups who may appreciate a message of reality and hope for our future. 

Please let me hear from you directly regarding any ideas or questions you may have.

What else can you do to help? Three things:

1. Live as greenly as possible while doing all that you can to raise the awareness of "big picture" solutions that are crucially necessary for saving our civilization.

2. Share this BSB and my  "Mama Ain't Happy" BSB with prominent journalists, thought leaders and/or elected officials whom you respect. They need to learn a lot more about the many reasons why  Mama ain't happy.

3. Here are a few more GRATOLA-related blogs that you can share with your most powerful friends, leaders, journalists and movie producers.



Click here for links  to all blogs and SOS Memos since 2016

Until next time, just remember...

Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.

Be well,

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks 
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC

I welcome your feedback and/or questions at:  jmh@4leafglobal.com

In the past 12 months, I have spoken at a  VegFest in
Fort Myers, at  vsh.org  in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, the   College of the Holy Cross  in Worcester, MA, a  Plant Powered Manhattan  event in New York, at a lakeside health conference in  South Haven, Michigan, in Buffalo, NY, at the University of Scranton and at the Dr.  Joel Fuhrman  Golden Gate Health Getaway  in California near the Silicon Valley. 

To schedule a presentation at a venue near you, please contact me at   jmh@4leafglobal.com


Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

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