May 5, 2023
“Every border you cross, every purchase you make, every call you dial, cell-phone tower you pass, friend you keep, article you write, site you visit, subject you type, and packet that you route is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited and whose safeguards are not.”
Edward Snowden opened his statements with this text from an email sent to a journalist ten years ago when he exposed Western intelligence agencies and governments spying on their citizenry en masse – regardless of whether they had been suspected of a crime.
This catapulted him into fame (or infamy) and ultimately resulted in him fleeing to Russia where he resides to this day.
I was in attendance at Consensus 2023 in Austin, Texas where he took the stage virtually.
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And now he is concerned about the potential AI has in this same government surveillance. ChatGPT and other increasingly sophisticated AI models threaten to hinder people’s privacy more and more.
But if we can create and maintain open AI models, there is a real chance to use AI for the common good.
This is where Ben Goertzel comes in. He is the founder of SingularityNET – a project that uses decentralized blockchain technology to achieve an open AI network for the good of humanity. I’ve highlighted this and other crypto-related AI projects in Crypto Cycle.
Both Goertzel and famous futurist Ray Kurzweil believe that AI will be as sophisticated as human intelligence by 2032. Once this happens, it will theoretically be possible for this AI to rewrite its own source code and begin attaining superintelligence – an event that is called the “Singularity”.
This prospect either terrifies or excites you.
But Goertzel is more concerned with what happens up until that point. As AI becomes increasingly advanced it will become more important than ever that the people controlling it are benevolent.
I think it’s safe to assume that they aren’t.
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Goertzel said that the only way humanity doesn’t get screwed by selfish and malevolent elites is by creating their own open and decentralized AI to combat them. Projects like SingularityNET aim to achieve this goal.
Later that day, during an ask me anything (AMA), he was asked what he thought about Elon Musk’s open letter imploring humanity to pause AI projects for six months to avoid “profound risks to society and humanity.” He replied that he viewed it as little more than large-scale virtue signaling, as Musk is as aware as anyone that the cat is out of the bag when it comes to AI.
There is no turning it off.
Snowden claimed that AI developers were training their models to think like us – which he said is a crime. He emphasized that they should be better than us. “As with children, we don't need machines to be like us,” Snowden said. “We need them to be better than us. And if they aren't better than us, we did a terrible job.”
”They're training [AI models] on Reddit threads,” Snowden said. “It's like the internet equivalent of YouTube comments. But you want to create something decent, good, that's creative and useful.”
Snowden closed his talk with the following, “We’re not born human, we become human. And they can become better than human, but we have to teach them.”
Editor, Daily Profit Cycle