What happens when computers outperform humans?


When we look at the evolution and growth of industries in the past 2000 years we see an almost 90 degrees line rising straight upwards. What could cause this improved productivity, this increase in industrialism? Well some say its due to the technology. Technology has accumulated through human history, and right now it advances extremely rapidly.

world population and GDP growth

world population and GDP growth

A lot of things we have achieved have been the result of the human mind. Everything that we have right now is a cause of the human mind; it is based on relatively minor changes through time. Currently we are working on machine super intelligence.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI is defined as intelligence or the ability of a computer to act like a human being. With machine super intelligence we go a little bit deeper. Earlier we wrote algorithms that functions in the following way, we get out of the algorithm what we inserted in the algorithm. However a big shift is happening now, we are currently more focused on machine learning, rather than just the traditional way of machine work. Now we are producing algorithms that learn from raw data, and improve through time.

What will happen?

The improvements can be endless and therefore we should ask ourselves, what happens when a computer will become smarter than humans? What will be the consequences? And when will this happen?

The imitation game (Enigma)

One of the first machines or computers that sort of outsmart a human brain was the enigma machine. A machine that had to be developed by humans and that could crack such a complicated code that could not be cracked by a human brain. The recently published movie ‘The Imitation Game’ tells us the story about the development of the machine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_C25CwNlVjA (movie clip, breaking Enigma code: ‘The Imitation Game’)

Another consequence is that by time we are able to create a super intelligence machine, from that point on the machine will invent for us.

Humans versus Computers

There are of course several differences between humans and computers that need to be taken into account before we can start thinking about when computers will become smarter than humans.

The speed of information that is processed in a human mind goes by the speed of a neuron to the brain. For computers the speed of information can travel as quickly as the speed of light. Another difference is the matter of size of the processor. Where a human processor (or the brain) is limited in its size (the size of the skull, computers can be the size of a warehouse or even larger.

On the other hand, humans do not have an off switch (besides killing a human being) and with developing a super machine we can implement an off switch. Also humans can’t be digitally bugged and a computer can incur a virus.

So when will we reach human level of machines?

I do belief that there will be a time in the future where computers will outperform a human, but when is still a big question for me. Looking at another movie (iRobot) we should be careful not to haste ourselves. Of course this is still one of the crazy robot or machine fiction stories, some day this can be our future.

Relevant readings:

Turing test

The Imitation Game


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