The great power nations that master the use of artificial intelligence are likely to gain a tremendous military and economic benefits from the technology. The United States benefitted greatly from a relatively fast adoption of the internet, and many of its most powerful companies today are the global giants of the internet age. I believe these to be fatal assumptions. The decade ahead will make it clear that the United States must, as it has in the past, earn its prosperity and its technological leadership – something that many Americans now take completely for granted. This will involve a focus on the competitiveness of the US economy – and a willingness to continually earn its place in the international order.
The "Grand Trajectory" refers to the direction of development of intelligence and sentience. It is unclear as to which of these scenarios humanity should strive towards, or how we should go about it. In the long term, it seems somewhat inevitable that the best possible scenarios (in utilitarian terms) would involve the proliferation of post-human intelligence, well beyond current humanity or cognitively enhanced humanity. If the richness and depth of the sentience of an entity indicate its moral worth, then astronomically advanced (and conscious) superintelligence would be the most (a concept that I explore in great depth at the end of my TEDx at Cal Poly). The stewardship of the Grand Trajectory is the most important role of humanity – and indeed is the Cause.
When I first became focused on the military and existential concerns of AI in 2012, there was only a small handful of publications and organizations focused on the ethical concerns of AI. MIRI, the Future of Humanity Institute, the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and the personal blogs of Ben Goertzel and Nick Bostrom was most of my reading at the time. These limited sources focused mostly on the consequences of artificial general intelligence (i.e. By 2014, artificial intelligence made its way firmly onto the radar of almost everyone in the tech world. New startups began (by 2015) ubiquitously including "machine learning" in their pitch decks, and 3-4-year-old startups were re-branding themselves around the value proposition of "AI." Not until later 2016 did the AI ethics wave make it into the mainstream beyond the level of Elon Musk's tweets. By 2017, some business conferences began having breakout sessions around AI ethics – mostly the practical day-to-day concerns (privacy, security, transparency).
The rapid development of so-called NBIC technologies – nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science – are giving rise to possibilities that have long been the domain of science fiction. Disease, ageing and even death are all human realities that these technologies seek to end. They may enable us to enjoy greater'morphological freedom' – we could take on new forms through prosthetics or genetic engineering. The rapid development of NBIC technologies – nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science – are giving rise to possibilities that have been the domain of science fiction. 'Transhumanism' is the idea that humans should transcend their current natural state and limitations through the use of technology – that we should embrace self-directed human evolution. If the history of technological progress can be seen as humankind's attempt to tame nature to better serve its needs, transhumanism is the logical continuation: the revision of humankind's nature to better serve its fantasies.