Machine-brain bandwidth constraint and democratisation of AI

8.1.2017 – Future of Life Institute, BENEFICIAL AI 2017 Conference (YouTube-Video). Transcript of selected parts of the discussion by Roberto De Simone.

Panel discussion with (f.l.t.r.) Elon Musk, Stuart Russell, Bart Selman, Ray Kurzweil, David Chalmers, Nick Bostrom, Demis Hassabis, Sam Harris, Jaan Tallinn and Max Tegmark as moderator.

Max Tegmark: When do we reach the level of human AI? When things actually start to take off?

Elon Musk: It reaches its threshold when it’s as smart as the smartest most inventive human. Then its a matter of days before it’s smarter than the whole of humanity.

Max Tegmark: Are there any concerns in particular, where you see there is a very clear thing we should be doing now, that are gonna help?

Elon Musk: Let me try of thinking it: What is an actual good future? What does it actually look like or lets say at least bad? The point that was made also by others (in this panel) is, we are heading towards either super intelligence or civilization ending. Those are like the two things that will happen. Intelligence will keep advancing, its something that civilization interstices or destroys civilization.

What is this world like to be in where there is this digital Superintelligence? Another point that gives point to appreciate is, that we are, all of us, already cyborgs. You have a extension machine of yourself in form of your phone and your computer and all your applications. You are already superhuman. By far you have more power, more capability, then the President of the United States had 30 years ago. If you have a internet link you have an article of wisdom. You can communicate to millions of people, you can communicate to rest of earth instantly. These are magical powers that didn’t exist not that long ago. So everyone is already super human and a cyborg. The limitation is one of bandwidth. We are bandwidth constraint, particular on output. Our input is much better, but our output is extremely slow. If you want to be generous you can say maybe a few hundred bits per second or something like that output. The way we output is like we have little meat sticks that we move very slowly and push buttons or tab a little screen. That is extremely slow. Compared to a computer which can communicate at a terabyte level. Very big order of magnitude difference. Our input is much better because of vision. But even that could be enhanced significantly. I think the two things that are needed for a future that we look at and conclude as good, most likely is, we have to solve that bandwidth constraint with a direct neural interface. I think of a high bandwidth interface to the cortex. So we can have a digital tertiary layer that’s more fully symbiotic with the rest of us. We got the cortex and the limbic system which seems to work together pretty well, they’ve good bandwidth. (..)So if we solve that bandwidth issue and then AI can be widely available. The AI analogy to a nuclear bomb is not exactly correct. It’s not as this is gonna explode and create a mushroom cloud. It’s more, if just a few people had it, they would be able to be the dictators of earth. Who ever acquired it and they were ultra smart, they would have the manual over us. So I would think it would be extremely important that it would be widespread and that we solve the bandwidth issue and if we do those things, then it would be tight to our consciousness, tight to our inner will, tight to some individual human will and everyone will have it. So it would be a evenly playing field. Infact, it would probably more egalitarian than today.

Max Tegmark: What are your visionary ideas of a future?

Elon Musk: I think that, and I have think about that a lot, it really comes down to two things and it is solving the machine brain bandwidth constraint and democratization of AI. I think when we have those two things, the future will be good. There is a great quote by Lord Acton “Freedom consists of the distribution of power and despotism in its concentration.” And as long as everyone that want it, can get it, and we got something faster then meet sticks to communicate with, then I think the future will be good.