Hybrid AI Paradigm

Hybrid AIIn a previous section, we outlined a range of predictions associated with the potential development of AI. However, predictions of this nature tend to be more akin to 'sound-bites' in that they give a flavour of the issues without really attempting to justify themselves. In this respect, the picture on the right is analogous to a visual sound-bite in that while some aspects of the imagery might be seen as a prediction of the future, in practice, it is only intended to focus your attention on some of the underlying issues that need to be discussed. As such, the goal of this section is to try an establish a paradigm or model in which AI might actually develop; or possibly it is more appropriate to say evolve.

The basic concept of hybrid AI is that humanity will seek to take control of its own evolution by the application of genetic and cognitive sciences, which will expand to include computer science, robotics, AI and other inter-related disciplines, such as neurology. While this evolutionary process has the potential to be very rapid in comparison to Darwinian natural selection, it will still be subject to social acceptance, although the process itself may  be subject to much change as the quality of life demands adapt to the needs of an increasing world population, dwindling natural resources and changing age demographics. So while the paradigm assumes natural selection may be superseded by evolution-by-design, in some sections of society, it is not assumed that 'survival-of-the-fittest'  ceases to be a major factor in who lives and who dies, even though the criteria defining 'the fittest' may be very different in some brave new world.

It was said in the introduction to AI that some, even most, people may not like the implications of the paradigm shift to be described, but this would not necessarily make the implications wrong. In part, the purpose in reviewing such a broad section of fundamental paradigm shifts in our history was to reflect on how our predecessors might view our own society. It is suggested that if you could go back in time, the further back you went, the greater would be the rejection of our present values and society. We appear to be products of time and place, which makes it difficult for us to really 'feel at home' in other cultures and societies. Therefore, in order that we might better understand how humanity may choose, or be driven towards AI, the paradigm will be presented as an evolutionary process from present-day to a time, possibly some 500 years into the future. This timeframe is much larger than the 50 years suggested by some of the earlier predictions. However, justification of this extended timeframe will be made throughout the rest of the section, which will also use the paradigm outlined in this section as a frame of reference to discuss both technical and social dependencies in more detail.

If we again consider the picture on the right, one of the issues it highlights is our current perception of the difference that divide biology from technology, i.e. cells from silicon chips and muscle tissue from electro-mechanical motors. However, this perception is based on our current understanding of technology, which may change radically in the next 100 years, such that carbon-based biology and silicon-based processors converge in ways that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. If so, the distinct separation depicted in the picture may not be so obvious. We might also wish to reflect on the fact that evolutionary change through genetic manipulation would presumably lead to changes in DNA that would then be passed to subsequent generations. In contrast, changes in the form of anatomical prosthetics and neural implants, which are both ascetically and socially acceptable, would not necessarily extend beyond an individual choice. Having now introduced a few of the salient ideas, the subsequent sub-sections will attempt to expand on some of the central concepts.