Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Last Question

In November 1956, I was born, but more importantly Isaac Asimov's short story "The Last Question" was first published. The question "can entropy be reversed?" has a mind-blowing answer. Click on the title above to read it.

This story presents what is perhaps the best possible future for humanity. Unlike AM, the demonic, human-hating computer in Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream", Asimov's Multivac is a shining example of Friendly AI. Even after billions of years, when Multivac has evolved beyond the physical universe, it still has our best interests in mind.

AI experts are just starting to consider the problem of how to insure superhuman intelligences will stay "friendly" to humanity. Personally I don't think it can be done, but if superhuman intelligence is possible, we'd better hope "friendliness" is possible too.

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