Superintelligence for a Global State
"Besides this ‘Kurzweilian variant’(i.e. free markets will take care of everything as the invisible vital agent of cosmic evolution leading us towards our ‘post-human’ ‘utopia’), there is another emerging AGI TS grounded theory of large political collectives that is problematic in a different dimension, i.e. the ‘State dimension’ instead of the ‘Market dimension’.
To give a specific example, philosopher and AGI TS theorist Nick Bostrom (the aforementioned author of Superintelligence (2014), addressed issues of collective political development in relation to advanced superintelligence at the United Nations (UN). In this presentation Bostrom gave an overview of the “challenges” posed by the emergence of machine learning software (see: UN WEB TV, 2015) that focused exclusively on the existential risks of machine learning technologies future development and, as a result, a focus on how such advanced technological development needs to be rigidly controlled. The practical result is that we get the offer of an approach to large- scale political collectives founded, not on distributed mechanisms (post-state) and open-access (post-capital), but instead on tightly con- trolled and hierarchically centralized elite groups (the emergence of some form of Global State that develops advanced technology in secret and actively attempts to prevent it from being developed openly).
Indeed, this was explicitly the view developed by Bostrom in Superintelligence (2014, p. 253):
- “[A]n international project to develop safe superintelligence would... have to be constituted not as an open academic collaboration but as an extremely tightly controlled joint enterprise. Perhaps the scientists involved would have to be physically isolated and prevented from communicating with the rest of the world for the duration of the pro- ject, except through a single carefully vetted communication channel. The required level of security might be nearly unattainable at present, but advances in lie detection and surveillance technology could make it feasible later this century.”
Ben Goertzel, a researcher with expertise in both AGI and GB TS theory, noted the massively problematic sociopolitical dimension of Bostrom's AGI TS theory that develops in this direction (2016a, p. 65): “What [Bostrom] is advocating here, in his dry professional style, is ac- tually quite dramatic: For the UN and all governments of the world to come together to control AGI research and development, protecting and fostering an elite AGI R&D effort carried out under the auspices by a small group, potentially even just by one person.”
Thus, Bostrom's view here, although only focused on how to handle the future of AGI (and not concerned (yet) with the totality of the development of the socio-technological sphere), is nevertheless directly anti-thetical to the potential GB TS vision of future large-scale political forms based on distributed mechanisms and open-access as it is possible to be. Bostrom's view, ultimately, stems from a hierarchical and closed under- standing of collective intelligence (as opposed to a distributed and open-ended understanding of collective intelligence). As a consequence, Bostrom proposes an (impossible) attempt to rigidly control and predict precisely what will happen with the future development of the socio-technological sphere in regards to AGI with the erection of a new global elite guiding technological development and implementation (which could ultimately be a more problematic ‘governance control problem ’than the ‘AGI control problem’ Bostrom intends to solve. In other words, in contrast to the Kurzweilian ‘neoliberalism to the end of humanity’ formula, Bostrom is starting to articulate a view that comes pretty close to ‘Big Brother to the end of humanity’formula.4 Here we can see that AGI TS theorists, like theorists in practically every other domain, have trouble thinking outside of the binary of state/market, and thus cannot think the radical third of the commons.
Of course, directing focus either to the productive ‘utopian’ potentialities of free market capitalism (Kurzweil) or the existential risks associated with the emergence of AGI ‘post-humans’(Bostrom) in general is not totally unwarranted. On the one hand, free market capitalism is obviously the most productive mechanism for technological development in the history of humanity, and on the other hand, the future of AGI does indeed present us with important existential questions. Are capitalism and science –our contemporary Masters5 –ultimately leading us to- wards, not the End of History, but the End of Humanity? That, at least, is contemporary Singularity ideology. However, grounding a practical geopolitical approach to Singularity in either foundation biases the conversation towards extreme positions disconnected from the realities of contemporary global evolution in relation to the totality of revolution- ary technologies emerging in our socio-technological sphere and their practical social, economic, and political consequences. In other words, from the Kurzweilian perspective we cannot simply have faith that free market capitalism will erect an all-inclusive abundant utopia when the total sphere of capitalism appears to be inherently exclusive and built on scarcity producing class antagonisms that structure the en- tire universal space. And, from the Bostromian perspective we cannot simply posit the paranoiac view that an AGI takeover is immanent in order to justify a reactionary position that we need a central elite group to monitor its development in secret (and the same goes for other technologies that are presupposed as eschatological).
Moreover, and more importantly, as a consequence of these AGI TS positions there is a de-emphasis on the potential of this emerging exponential-global technological revolution to lead us towards large-scale automation (automated smart systems), radically distributed organizations (distributed social networks), and consequently, a de-emphasis on the type of conversation that would help us understand what types of large-scale political collectives would allow for large- scale human emancipation from labour insecurity and hierarchical control. In other words we have a de-emphasis on a type of conversation that would focus all of its attention on the traditional humanist attractor of (collective) ‘Freedom’, perhaps most articulately represented in the perfectly reasonable maxim of: ‘th efree development of each is the condition for the free development of all’(Marx and Engels, 2004, p. 82).
Here the GB TS theoretical view can, and indeed has already, produced a much more nuanced understanding of human becoming within a world of revolutionary technologies that can organize via distributed and open-ended coordination mechanisms in relation to social (see: Veitas and Weinbaum, 2016), economic (see: Heylighen, 2016b), and political domains (see: Goertzel et al., 2016b).
The step that needs to be taken now is to integrate GB TS theoretic view within the emerging discourse of the Commons. Can we imagine a Singularity in the Commons? "