The Road to Superintelligence?

Cadell Last had an article this week in the Huffington Post that talks about the scientific evolution of humanity with Artificial Intelligence with citations to Teilhard de Chardin. I do not have any great thoughts on the article but it is another example of how Teilhard de Chardin’s vision is continuing to echo today:

In the 21st century, we are walking an important road. Our species is alone on this road and it has one destination: super-intelligence.

The most forward-thinking visionaries of our species were able to get a vague glimpse of this destination in the early 20th century. Paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardincalled this destination Omega Point. Mathematician Stanislaw Ulam called it “singularity”:

One conversation on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue

For thinkers like Chardin, this vision was spiritual and religious; God using evolution to pull our species closer to our destiny. For others, this vision was a fiercely secular and naturalistic technological utopia designed on scientific principles alone. The rapture for the nerds.

Today the philosophical debates of this vision have become more varied, but also more focused on model building and scientific prediction. The closer we get to our destination, the clearer we can see this world. In the early 20th century Chardin could only generalize about its features. In The Phenomenon of Man he described the Omega Point as “super-personalized” and “infinitely enriched”.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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17 Responses to The Road to Superintelligence?

  1. claire46 says:

    Thank you for pointing out this article 🙂

    • Thank you Claire. I am not very knowledgeable about “Transhumanism” theories (other than science fiction stories 🙂 but I know Teilhard de Chardin is an influential figure in this area.

  2. ptero9 says:

    This is a subject that interests me very much William. I am suspicious though when people quote Chardin in the context of technological Utopias because I’m not convinced Chardin would agree with our modern fantasy of saving the day through technology and global communication.

    From the article:
    “From what we can tell, the better educated people are, the greater their collective wealth, and the more they know about other peoples and cultures, the less violent and competitive they become.”

    Really? If the US is an example of the best of the best, we should be very afraid of that very same culture’s military and technological global presence which may be causing far more harm than good. The day when Monsanto becomes a force for good, I’ll take back what I am saying here.

    If I sound angry, I apologize, I do feel passionate about what I perceive as modern arrogance in what I see as a progressive fantasy that places human’s in some sort of fight against nature, winning an imagined battle against her. That battle seems to be justifying just about everything science does. How ironic that we can’t see that we are only battling our own creations?

    Peace to you William,
    Debra

    • Hi Debra:

      Thank you for your well-reasoned thoughts. I absolutely agree with you that Teilhard would be appalled at the materialistic, consumer society of the U.S. Moreover you are absolutely correct that the cultural hubris of the U.S. is contrary to the path of unifying a global culture (not to mention all of the ecological and economic exploitation).

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

      • H3nry J3kyll says:

        Great share William! I must ask your thoughts though on the benefit of super-intelligence if not tempered by compassion and grace? One Oppenheimer was enough imho. I wonder if mankind possess the humility to wield an intelligence of this magnitude. Men like de Chardin are certainly in short supply these days and ego is a helluva thing. I too share Debras’ concerns. I am interested too see how a world that needs a reason to be less violent and competitive handles “super intelligence.”

      • Excellent analysis. I share your concerns and the 20th century has shown that humanity has not always handled technology and “progress” in a peaceful manner. I am optimistic however that we will continue to make slow and steady progress. I just hope to do not cause a devastating event (e.g. climate change) that we are not able to undo.

        Peace,
        W. Ockham

      • Your concern is made with reference to Oppenheimer – a good point. We’ve no idea really how the outpouring of super intelligence will benefit mankind – in fact for a Christian, it rather raises the hairs a bit knowing the book of Revelation (“The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John”)… As I follow from de Chardin’s writings, he was foreseeing a period of heightened spiritual awareness – this outpouring of Love as some of us experience may for others be a feeling of false esteem and may actually bolster their abilities in human interactions; thus more leaders may become more savvy toward self-aggrandizement and convincing of agendas to dominate and control humanity.

      • H3nry J3kyll says:

        Pleased to make your acquaintance Truth Hunter.
        I’ve gotta agree with your conclusions regarding the skewing of the heightened spiritual awareness by the individual and the consequences of domination and self- aggrandizement. The great teacher of your tradition said that the earth was bequeathed to the meek so I would also like to think that these are just temporary hiccups on the road to de Chardin’s vision.
        I look forward to stopping by Hunt for Truth and talking further.

      • the Earth already is shifting by way of the energy of love in the universe toward what you’ve pointed out and by my understanding of de Chardin’s ision, this is theb blooming of the Noosphere as the spirit embraces the faithful. Those of the meek are careful to pray for God’s will and not their own. Thus, they are the ones that the Spirit strengthens to form the Noosphere. I do not claim they are all of one training in Christ. However, they are the meek that are filled with Holy Spirit. (IMHO)
        ~ Eric

    • Hi Debra. This is an interesting post and discussion. My view is neutral on this as you may guess probably. However, I do very much appreciate that you and Henry (below) pint out human nature.
      ~ Eric

  3. Lynda says:

    I appreciate you pointing out this article. The author of the article recognizes the faith perspective of Teilhard and that is important. The faith perspective needs to be present in our secular society. William, I hope you are enjoying your time away!

  4. The super-intelligence or transcendence (experience beyond physical reality) is de Chardin visualized nicely – as do others as well. In fact though, being as that visualization occurs as it happens in a individual, we tend to need a collection of views of what is possibly happening. Its therefore tricky business to apply oneself to spiritual growth. I may have stated before – I just set myself on doing the best I can and working to improve this. I accept that I am one of billions and that my best is what I can do. The technology of the Internet (the blogosphere) surely is getting humanity relating – the Noosphere is I think a is of spiritual (fire) connection I relating with others – of the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, this is communicating in the blogosphere.
    Anyway, its an amazing time.
    ~ Eric

    • Eric:

      Thank you for your comment. You have an excellent viewpoint and one that I am trying to emulate. I am working, with the grace of God, to become a more loving, compassionate person, not just to those immediately around me to others as well. As my family, friends and colleagues would attest to, I am very much a work in process.

      The internet is truly an amazing tool and I agree with you that it will dramatically accelerate the development of the Noosphere as envisioned by Teilhard de Chardin.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

      • Thank you for you kind acceptance…
        Actually, there are typos… this is what I intended:
        The technology of the Internet (the blogosphere) surely is getting humanity relating – the Noosphere is I think a spiritual (fire) connection that is making relating with others a spiritual connection (even via the blogosphere) – it being of the Holy Spirit, nonetheless, this is communicating in the blogosphere.

  5. I hadn’t read the linked article (The Road to Superintelligence) when I replied before. I have no fear of science and technology – however, there are uses of science and technology that already are bringing about cybernetic I’ve posted today on a book and there is a series of video (I put the first of them into today’s post) that is related. This first video focuses on CS Lewis and his concerns for how science was becoming a tool for power and misuse of power. Many readers may not understand that getting into a major University science program these days is very difficult for Christian students. They find themselves especially in biology, chemistry, physics, and archeology to be surrounded by atheist professors and students. Lewis, Orwell, and Chesterton were three Christians that stood out in warnings about science becoming dominated by scientism – reducing science to the search for materialistic causes for our existence and the workings of our universe – intentionally eliminating any investigation or acknowledgement of spiritual causes and influences. Until very recently, it was difficult for me to even say what organizations that I associated with over these past 40 years and I am not even in science or working at Universities.
    It’s all for my good; I say. My associations with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (noetic.org), Spiritual Research Foundation (SSRF.org) are considered woo-woo. It is difficult to discuss the science of spirituality with Christians as well. More so very recently with Internet social media and especially blogs, the scientists and Christians are beginning to see that we all have much to learn about how spiritual is a huge part of our lives. The stubbornness of a millennia now of shunning spiritual science is still difficult to overcome with more than half of Christians and nearly half of scientists.
    Anyway, after having a chance to read the article that you linked, I decide to reply again.
    I am all good with my place in this. However, most readers are probably not aware of the subtle battles that are occurring. I certainly post on these areas for concern and I raise the awareness of struggles and progress; and will continue.
    As always, William, I am thankful for the platform here that you post.
    ~ Eric

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