Grand CanyonThis blog is about the possibility that the first machine with human-level cognition may be created within a few decades.  If and when that happens, it will be closely followed by the arrival of the world’s first superintelligence, and humans will become the second smartest species on the planet.

Some years or decades before then, intelligent machines may render most humans unemployable.

I think these two developments are so radical that they both deserve to be called “singularities”, a term borrowed from maths to denote maximum transformation.  They are, respectively, the technological singularity and the economic singularity.

The consequences of human-level artificial intelligence (artificial general intelligence or AGI) would be astonishing: as Andrew Marr said in a recent TV programme, it will be the “the greatest achievement of humanity since the invention of agriculture [and it will] challenge the very idea of what it is to be human.”

The consequences of technological unemployment, if it happens, will also be profound.  Both these developments could have wonderful consequences for us – or terrible ones.  And the outcome is partly up to us.

Until very recently, amazingly few people were thinking about these things.  Fortunately, that changed with the publication of Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence, and comments it prompted by the “three wise men” – Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

My name is Calum Chace.  I live in the UK and Spain.  I am an author and speaker about artificial intelligence, and its likely future impact on society.  My work is informed by the experience of a 30-year career in business.  You can see some of my talks here.

If you are new to the idea that machine consciousness and superintelligence may be with us soon (in decades rather than centuries), my novel Pandora’s Brain and my non-fiction books Surviving AI and The Economic Singularity are great places to start.

The Superintelligence page on this site and then the Links page will also give you plenty of food for thought.

Finally, why Pandora’s Brain?  In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman, and Zeus ordered her to be created to punish men for accepting the forbidden gift of fire from Prometheus.  She was given a jar containing all the evils of the world.  She had strict instructions never to open it, but humans are curious, so of course she did, which is exactly what Zeus intended.  That is how the Greeks thought evil came into our world.  But the jar also contained something else – something vital for humans: it contained hope.

“Pandora’s Brain”, “Surviving AI” and “The Economic Singularity” are all available at Amazon in ebook, paperback and audio formats

14 thoughts on “About

  1. Greetings Calum,
    I found your site. It is quite interesting and well thought through.
    Just a consideration for you. I am a SW developer, but my nature is biologist. I have a knack for genes. I am quite familiar with Kurzweil’s ideas and other related topics, but what if I told you that there is a topic as large that no one has even looked at? Obviously, it must be the genes, but you would probably be a bit surprised at what I found. It changes a lot of things, but more importantly it creates a new understanding of what humans are. I just completed a book on it and am working n publishing it, though at this point, the end, I want to redo the introduction first. If you want to see an older version, it is at http://www.diver.net/seahunt/p/p_trans.htm
    I am on your mailing list now, looking forward to your updates.
    Regards, Mike Breeden

  2. Hi Calum,

    I’d like to speak to you about a documentary we are making about the future – please could you send me your email address?

    Thanks, Nick

  3. As a 20 year-old computer science/ business student, what can I do to actively and positively affect the possible nightmare that is the economic singularity? My ambition is to make AI and robotics as commonplace as the computer is today, but I want to do it for the benefit of people – not to the ultimate detriment of first-world society.

    • First of all, Benjamin, don’t try to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Your instincts sound fine, and I’m sure you will contribute greatly. Learn your trade, keep your horizons broad, engage your friends and acquaintances in the conversation. Your path will become clear over time. Best wishes.

  4. Really looking forward to reading your books. Any tips for developing a career in Philosophy or similar area? My particular interest is in the Philosophy of AI.

  5. As far as I know, a career in philosophy means academia. But a training in philosophy can equip you for many other careers. Mine equipped me for all sorts of odd things. 🙂 It can also be a great preparation for life in general.

  6. Hi Calum, I read and enjoyed your economic singularity book. One thought I have is about Universal Basic Income. If the majority of people have very little or no income then how is state going receive taxes to pay for anything including government workers? It seems we will the state will not exist.

    • Hi Paul. Glad you enjoyed “Economic”. UBI will present many challenges. It is likely that the economy will still be creating great wealth – AI enables great efficiency, so wealth should increase. But many people (if the thesis of “Economic” is anywhere near correct) will be unemployable, and not sharing the wealth. So governments will have to provide them with an income, and that will have to be paid for by taxation – at least until we reach the fabled paradise of the Star trek economy, which ain’t going to happen overnight. Such a drastic increase in taxation will not be easy to achieve!

      • Thanks, Calum. As AI creates greater efficiencies the price of goods and services will fall, intern, the level of state income from taxation will also be smaller. This should not be a problem as people’s standard of living will increase even though their income is lower. The problem seems to be debt. The banking system, the bond market, and government debt will not shrink. History and the current crop of central banking economists seem to suggest printing money out of thin air is a good solution. Inflating the debt away through currency debasement may accelerate the populations move into crypto-currencies, this is happening in Latin American countries like Venezuela as people are scrambling to survive. The rise of crypto-currencies is impossible for governments to tax and redistribute income. I can’t see governments surviving the rise of AI, I think we may be heading towards an Anarcho-Capitalist system. Which sounds scary because the transition could be quite unsettling, to say the least, but in the longer term, I think it may be a very positive outcome for everyone. I hope so anyway!
        Regards, Paul

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