Synthetic Super Intelligent Life

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Discussions of "synthetic super intelligent life" are highly speculative. To get somes background on this subject, I recommend the following:

(1) Wikipedia Synthetic intelligence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_intelligence

(2) Wikipedia Technological singularity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

(3) Wikipedia Virtual reality: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality.

Browsing will bring you to many other interesting sites.

A Few of Many Online Resources

Virtual Reality Research:

Recording Human Lives:

Stanford Virtual Reality Lab

Microsoft Research, MyLifeBIts

EPFL Virtual Reality Lab

Time Travel and Virtual Reality

The Thirteenth Floor

Is there enough computational power to support super intelligent life?

My point of view is that there is plenty of "room at the top" in terms of computer capabilities. See for example the article by Seth Loyd (pdf) and the article in Edge about the same topic (pdf). As to intelligent machines generally, you can follow current results on the Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence website.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)

I recommend the following article by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute:

What Will ET Look Like and Why Do We Care? (pdf) 60th Int. Astronautical Conference 2009.

Science fiction based on solid science can be helpful for guiding class discussions. I have written two such stories. The Observers, published in 2009, is about the challenges posed by a secretive alien community of natural historians when they decide to reveal themselves to humans. This civilization of synthetic life forms has been studying life on earth for 160,000,000 years. The second story, Which is the Real Ramon?, combines a rewritten unpublished short story of mine, The Avatars Remember Nothing, with a shortened version of The Observers. Starting this new story with near future technology and then going into the similar but much more advanced technology of the aliens, makes the science easier to understand. A search for "amazon.com/author/sgillwilliamson" takes you to more information. A 7x10 paperback, a 6X9 paperback and an ebook are there. Here is a direct link:

amazon.com/author/sgillwilliamson
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Comments by computer scientist, futurist and author, Vernor Vinge:

Are there possibilities that we humans should have recognized long before they finally forced themselves on us? One such is the idea that microbial life exists and can cause disease. After all, we see life in greater and greater profusion at ever smaller sizes down to the limits of our vision. Even without microscopes, there should have been suspicion that the trend doesn't stop at the limits of human eyesight. Our ancestors conceived of "invisible spirits" but they rarely wrote about the possibility of invisibly small antagonists.

Nowadays, I think there may be a similar oversight committed by people who talk about flying saucers and little green men -- or even Fermi's paradox. The universe is more than 13 billion years old. We have good evidence that planets have been nearly ubiquitous for most of that time. If technological intelligence has comparable age, why would it not be widespread too, and how could we miss it? S. Gill Williamson's story "The Observers" suggests a very cool explanation. -- Vernor Vinge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iUniverse has published a paper back edition of The Observers (ISBN 978-0-595-39478-4). An E-Book version is available at the publisher's site.

This book is available through Amazon.

There is a thoughtful review on Amazon by a Ms. Olive Branch "Olivia," La Jolla, CA.

Barnes and Noble also carries the book online.

 

 

 

 

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Is there already a civilization like the Observers somewhere in our galaxy?

Far from being unlikely, the existence of such a civilization is a natural consequence of the laws of computer science. The Drake equation L-value of the Observers is essentially infinite, with signals theoretically detectable but far below the threshold of SETI detectors.

Some of these robotic civilizations are probably recording and studying the history of the universe--a challenge uniquely complex enough to force them to continue to evolve as societies. Within a hundred years we will be able to create our own version of the Observers. There are many possible ways this could happen.

As the universe ages and expands, civilizations of intelligent biologically-evolved beings will become more isolated in space-time. Their only hope of learning about the early development of our universe may be from contacts with robotic guardians of history such as the Observers.

See the Author's Notes for The Observers for more discussion (p. 147).