Are we creating God? Philosophy of mind in the age of Superintelligence 

References used to create this essay:

What if you had a minute with God?

Or, more specifically – the opportunity to ask a supreme intelligence a single question.

What would that question be?

Remember Elon Musk’s question?

In a recent conversation on the 80,000 hours podcast, Carl Shulman explains why AI progress will likely lead to insane economic growth in the coming decade.

He explains why most economists are wrong and how current economic models actually point to explosive economic growth.

Shulman is widely regarded one of the must-listen, modern minds on how things unfold post ‘Intelligence Explosion’. 

I’ve spoken at length about the Intelligence Explosion – basically, it’s the idea that AI creates smarter AI, which creates super-smart AI, until humans are so comparatively dumb and relevant that we resemble a big sack of potatoes attempting to learn quantum physics. 

Most agree this moment is coming sooner rather than later.

I don’t know about you, but if I had a single question – I wouldn’t be asking how the economy looks in three years. Sure, it’d be nice to know whether to load up on Microsoft, Apple, NVIDIA, Gold, Bitcoin or Chinese Yuan, but I’d for sure have some more pressing philosophical questions.

Something closer to Elon’s ‘what’s outside the simulation’, I recon.

Something related to Philosophy of Mind.

In very simple terms, philosophy of mind is us humans trying to make sense of how our minds work.

What is the mind? 

How do we think, feel and experience stuff?

How does the mind relate to the body and the brain?

What is the nature of our thoughts, feelings and consciousness?

Big questions for which we have very little in the answers department.

It took three hours and thirty minutes into the Shulman conversation, but they did eventually delve into the more philosophical territory.

The implications of AI progress on ‘Philosophy of Mind.’

“I’d say first, yes, I expect AI assistants to let us get as far as one can get with philosophy of mind, and cognitive science, neuroscience: you’ll be able to understand exactly what aspects of the human brain and the algorithms implemented by our neurons cause us to talk about consciousness and how we get emotions and preferences formed around our representations of sense inputs and whatnot.”

In other words, AI is probably going to take us further toward understanding the deep mysteries of life, intelligence, consciousness, memory – even the more practical but equally mysterious functioning of the brain, intelligence and emotion.  

How often do you stop to consider the deeper questions of life and existence? 

The icky and uncomfortable ones that tug at the fabric of reality?

What are we actually doing here?

Why do we have a conscious experience?

What does it mean to be a self?

What really happens when we die?

The reason most of us avoid these questions, is because they’re uncomfortable. And they’re uncomfortable because we’re so far from a good answer that it hurts.

An intelligence explosion means radical changes to the economy.

But it also means we’ll get some answers, or at least a few turtles deeper down the ‘wtf is life’ spiral.

Let’s hope the ego death is enough to offset the potential catastrophes of increasing intelligence.