The last 50 years of human space exploration have moved towards using autonomous probes. However the (robotics) or sentient intelligence that has so often been a meme imagined in recent fiction has not yet been expressed by technology. Indeed, the further down the technological wave we look, it appears that real autonomous machine sentience that could drive such missions is unlikely to be built by current ideas. The concept of a silicon AI is being eroded by biological research, new understating of biological brain functions, puts the meme of an independent AI into jeopardy.
Artificial Intelligence, the current interpretation of it as a independent entity. I conjecture; is wrong. The information wave that is the Internet and instant communication will not become self aware by our present understanding of the concept. Rather the amalgam of inter-connected human beings interfacing with this medium is the imagined intelligence. This processing and information wave that is occurring in the digitally connected human mind advances our race into a new paradigm.
Silicon technology, by a 2010 definition, has continually defined better information gathering and sharing between humans. The market economy drives the utility of technology by individuals expressing a choice, profit then dictates technology trends. The expression towards function is a human and natural trait; In humans this is expressed as a drive towards self improvement and on a natural level; its the road to equilibrium as defined by Newtonian Physics. As all energy in the universe aspires to equilibrium, it must be assumed that information also follows these laws. Thus at some point the utility a technology will be superseded by an unknown quotient on any probability wave.
Nature also expresses itself in ever increasing complexity, zero energy states as infinite parts of an ever larger system. Complexity is a measure of the total number of properties transmitted by an object and detected by an observer. Thus artificial intelligence is always going to be behind the processing capability of the observer. In this case Humans. This does not mean that once a state is reached, that it becomes static, a zero sum state is only a part of a more complex future system.
Technology is a tool for the observer to interact with an information system. A good example of this is that we have utilised the processing power of computers to model increasingly complex systems, however we still require an observer to interpret the results. Thus even the most complex future machine only extends the value of the interaction.
It is my conjecture that as observers we have not defined any level of complexity beyond the observed forces of nature. On a fundamental level that means we have to play in the universe we find ourselves in. Humans have a great ability to imagine levels of complexity beyond what we can observe, but its useless to us in the near present. Remember the information wave we are riding is always a wave towards increasing understating and complexity, there is never going to be a free ride. Only a hypothetical time traveler or encounter with an alien intelligence would observe a greater or lesser level of complexity.
Ideas are powerful things, Memes propagate in human consciousness throughout time, and indeed our entire technological progress can be attributed to the dissemination of ideas. From speech to writing to the digital age, we all inherit a future full of the ideas of our predecessors. The information wave is like time, we know the history but not necessarily the future. What is the consequence of 7 billion people raising the collective information processing through ubiquitous access to the assimilated collective history of our race?
The so called singularity is a popular meme in the present human mind, it fits in to our drive towards self improvement. Pessimists might object that humans are also drawn to war and destruction. However nobody can deny that individuals that ‘choose’ to participate on both sides of a conflict are driven by memes that commune a beneficial future ‘self interest’. Indeed we progress much quicker to advancement with the yoke of hardship. However the past is littered with ideas that do not propagate, and the information wave of the present and future leaves individuals with all the information they require to make informed decisions. This selectivity of ideas has become more discerning. The chances of good ideas propagating increase exponentially with the availability of free information. The average human intelligence today is far higher then in any time in history. The so called Singularity in popular culture today defines a point in time where (machines) become more intelligent then humans, the focus of the meme maintains that it is so much beyond humans’ present capabilities that it becomes impossible to understand it with present conceptions.
But its not machines that will breach this point on the wave, indeed the wave may never actually breach anything but continue throughout time until the end of the universe. Its human intelligence, or this increasing complexity inherent in life that will drive the information wave forward in time. The incomprehensible future intelligence in the concept of the singularity is human, however when we are riding the peak of the information wave there is never a breakthrough into a superior state. The machines we will create will continue to be understandable by us because they are always the expression of the computational complexity that we are driving.
It is possible that other intelligence in the universe ride their own information waves and that these could be different enough to our own that incomprehension can exist, but I doubt that it will ever do so on ours. However the idea behind the singularity does indeed describe our near future, as with exponential information growth the pace at which change occurs between generations is going to indeed fragment society. However this has always existed wherever progress and change occur, eventually the best ideas cresting the information wave survive and are archived into history, the rest of us will catch up. Not every new idea cresting the information waves survives, thus history becomes a regulator of our understanding.