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In the next 20-30 years an intelligent agent will surpass any human being in every skill or task that we could master and on top of that it may look like a smart gentleman whom it would be really difficult to distinguish from other people walking in the street. Such ability to have any skill and perform any task better than any human is called Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Nick Bostrom, a well-known authority on AI, whom I will be quoting several times in this book, has defined it as Superintelligence, i.e. “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills”. I shall use this term, rather than AGI, in this book.
Very soon after it has been created, such Superintelligence, embodied in a computer network, and personified in any shape or form, like a humanoid avatar, will be capable of redesigning itself. Repetitions of this cycle will result in the so called runaway effect, or an intelligence explosion, where such a smart being designs successive generations of increasingly improved, powerful copies of itself, creating intelligence far exceeding human intellectual capacity (3). Once Superintelligence has reached that capability it may be impossible for a human to comprehend it (we would have lost control over it sometime earlier). Humanity will have reached the point known as Technological Singularity. Ray Kurzweil, currently the Chief Technologist at Google and one of the most reliable futurists, predicts that Technological Singularity event will happen by 2045.
The POSTHUMANS series has its origin in my first book “Who Could Save Humanity from Superintelligence”. That book was addressed primarily to academics, politicians, and readers already familiar with the subjects discussed there. The three books of the series expand those subjects and present them in a way, which may be more suitable for a casual reader.
“Federate to Survive!” is about WHAT are the existential risks that threaten our survival as a human species. Superintelligence is the most imminent and supreme existential risk, as is the climate change, both of which have a tipping point in about 2030. Therefore, minimizing those risks should take precedence above any other goals of our civilisation. The secondary theme in this book is the selection of an organization, which could start the federalization of the world and guide us through this most perilous period in the humans’ existence. I have used 10 criteria to select the best candidate from the world’s largest countries and organizations, which seems to be the European Union, despite its own problems.
“Democracy for a Human Federation” continues from where the previous volume ended, proposing HOW we can survive existential threats. We need two elements to achieve that: Democracy and a Human Federation. The key reason for an urgent deep reform of democracy is to minimize existential risks, including the risk of delivering a malicious Superintelligence, by priming it with new Universal Values of Humanity. This is also an absolute prerequisite for the federalization of the European Union, which is the first step towards building a Human Federation. This secondary theme presents three scenarios for the EU’s federalization and an outline of the European Federation’s Constitution.
“Becoming a Butterfly” is the third book in the series, asking WHO we may become after 2050, assuming we will survive existential threats. Its focus is on Superintelligence. This is a mature form of an ever faster and more intelligent, self-learning Artificial Intelligence. If that final product becomes a malicious entity, it may make us extinct in a few decades. However, if we do it right, it will not only protect us from existential risks but also create unimaginable prosperity in the world of peace, and endless possibilities for human self-fulfilment.
Superintelligence will also offer an evolutionary path for humans to become Posthumans. The most important in that evolutionary paradigm shift will be the handing over to Superintelligence the set of human values, which best reflect who we are as humans. This must start right now and continue throughout the process of maturing AI to its ‘adulthood’, until we reach the moment when humans will pass control over their future to Superintelligence. From then on, humans may gradually merge with Superintelligence as individual digital Posthumans but acting in unison as a single superintelligent being.
We can only hope that the war between the West and Russia/China remains cold. But even then, it will be played out with several existential threats simmering in the background. Before 1945 there were no man-made existential threats. Now we have several. Three of them, Global Warming, Global Disorder and Artificial Intelligence (AI) may reach their tipping point simultaneously, by about 2030. At the same time, everything around us changes faster than ever in human history. Pace of change is now nearly exponential. What once took a decade now can be completed within a year.
What can we do to fight existential threats before they reach a tipping point of being out of control? As with Global Warming, 2030 is only a highly probable date, rather than a certainty for those three threats. It may also happen earlier, like with the loss of control over AI. Its impact on the future of Humanity is the greatest and most imminent. That is why this decade may be the most important in human history since if we lose control over AI too early, we may not have enough time to mature it as a benevolent intelligence. Therefore, we need to maintain control over a maturing AI for as long as possible.
But who would take charge for protecting us before we destroy ourselves. We do not want to repeat again the grave consequences for the world of the Munich Agreement in 1938. What the war in Ukraine has shown is that the world can never again be paralysed by inaction because of lack of a united response by democratic countries. The improvised NATO/EU Alliance to help Ukraine win the war, gives some hope that it may be quickly converted into a powerful, de facto World Government, fulfilling the role for which the UN was created. There are also other options described in the book.
However, even if we had such a de facto World Government, how would it govern us? To minimize existential threats, national sovereignty and some of our personal freedoms may need to be restricted. We must remind ourselves that we cannot have personal or national freedom without responsibilities. But the introduction of such restrictions may lead to serious social unrest in many countries. Why should citizens trust their governments when today the trust in politicians is at the rock bottom? The only way to rebuild the trust is to set up a new Social Contract between the governing and the governed and build a Big Consensus fast. The starting point would be the removal of political and social imbalances in societies by merging direct and representational democracy into a new type of democracy – Consensual Presidential Democracy. That is the key proposal considered in the book.
The books’ agenda for Humanity’s Transition to its Coexistence with Superintelligence is supported by this website. We invite experts in various domains of knowledge to join us in making this site relevant to people interested in certain aspects of human progress in the context of evolving Artificial Intelligence to ensure that when it emerges as Superintelligence, it will become our friend rather than foe. If you are a member of NGO, you may be interested in how you can align and strengthen your agenda with some of the proposals put forward on this site.