They argue that understanding the impact of artificial intelligence and transhumanism is serious business. When we read the work of MIRI, books like Our Final Invention, or Ray Kurzweil’s writings, we see the stakes are high for both benefits and risks. Differences in opinion cause tensions to run strong between scientists, futurists, and business leaders.
- Accelerando by Charles Stross: Accelerando is the book that changed how I thought about the entire field of science fiction. Stross made it so that any science fiction novel that didn’t consider the technological singularity seemed implausible.
- The Lifecycle of Software Object by Ted Chiang: The Lifecycle of Software Objects is a wonderful story about how complex AI will grow and learn much the way humans do. I suspect that much of the early-generation strong AI will be like this, and we’ll end up with tech startups whose speciality will be training and educating AI.
- Computer One by Warwick Collins: In Computer One, Warwick Collins lays out a compelling argument for why it’s likely that AI would try to preemptively wipe out humans. I think it’s an important read in the field of AI.
- Daemon by Daniel Suarez: Daemon is mind-blowingly good. The basic idea is that a videogame designer dies, leaving his massively multiplayer online RPG running, with its AI set to take certain actions on his death. The AI has the ability to interact with the real world through text messages, emails, and phone calls. Brilliant and scary.
- Nexus by Ramez Naam: Ramez goes deep into what it means to have connected minds. The focus is less on AI and more on transhumanism.
When China wondered why their scientists and engineers weren’t as creative as their American counterparts, they set out to study why. Talking to scientists and engineers around the world, they found those with the most imagination and creativity all shared a love of science fiction. The race to create strong AI as well as the race to protect us from possible dangers can both benefit from such creativity and imagination.