Peripatesis: Superintelligent Motivation, Hannibal Captures Tarentum.

‘Peripatesis’ is a made-up word related to the word ‘peripatetic’, which is an adjective that means ‘roaming’ or ‘meandering’. I’ve always liked to think of knowledge as a huge structure through which a person could walk, sprint, dive, climb, or fly in as straightforward or peripatetic a fashion as they like.

Here’s are my recent wanderings and wonderings:

Bostrom, N., Superintelligence, p. 105-126

In chapters 7 and 8 Bostrom covers the relationship between intelligence and motivation and what the default outcome of the intelligence explosion would be, respectively.

The point of chapter 7 is to establish the Orthogonality Thesis, so called because the idea is that nearly any goal can be attached to nearly any level of intelligence. Intelligent humans might not want to spend all day making paperclips, but assuming that a superintelligent AI wouldn’t want to is anthropomorphism.

Chapter 8 gives a panoply of reasons for expecting a non-carefully-controlled intelligence explosion to be catastrophic. The basic idea is that when one human tells another human “make me smile” both humans come pre-equipped with a vast, shared cognitive machinery which means that neither party will interpret this command as ‘staple the corners of my mouth up so I’m always grinning’.

Assuming an AI would rule that option out is also anthropomorphism, and of a kind that’s very deadly if we’re dealing with a superintelligence.

Goldsworthy, A., The Fall of Carthage, p. 222-233

This week I made it party through the section which covers the years 216 B.C.-203 B.C. The Romans and Carthaginians spent this period vying for control of major cities in southern Italy, such as Capua.

Hannibal finally managed to capture a port at Tarentum in 212 B.C., a goal he had been particularly interested in achieving for a while. This didn’t actually amount to much, as the Romans recaptured Tarentum in 209 B.C.

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