Koza’s Ant (A Modern Take on the Canonical Genetic Programming Problem)

Koza's Ant EvolverWe’ve all had those less-than-notable-at-the-time yet ultra-significant inflections in our world view that in later days loom large.

I had one of those “moments” in 1993, on an otherwise ordinary fall day when I’d squired my not-yet wife to an unmemorable building on the Northwestern campus, in Chicago.  Marie is a Set and Costume Designer so I have to imagine that we were there for some sort of rehearsal, or maybe a design meeting; something about Orpheus Descending at the Chicago Lyric Opera teases at my memory, although given the remove of 22 years the details have faded.

One thing I vividly remember, though, is reading Steven Levy’s “Artificial Life:  A Report from the Frontier Where Computers Meet Biology;” a book I picked up at the campus bookstore while waiting for Marie to finish whatever she was doing.  She must have been at it for hours because I managed to gulp down something like half of the thickish volume before she emerged from the building.

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An Open Letter to Nick Bostrom

Nick:

Let me start by complimenting you on a bravura performance.  I’ve read dozens of books and articles on ASI but Superintelligence is clearly in a category of its own.  I have no doubt that your work will stand as the definitive reference in the field for some time to come.

On the other hand, I do have a significant objection; if only to the work as a whole.  You make a compelling case for working together to mitigate the unprecedented peril of ASI—a sorely needed case, truth be told!—but I can’t help but think that, even so, your book is suffused with too much optimism.  To resort to bad haiku:

Fearsome ASIs
Can undoubtedly be tamed
We will make them safe!

At the risk of being a Cassandra, I fear that such optimism is entirely wrong!

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