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Calum Chace on Pandora’s Brain: AI is Coming and It Could Be the Best or the Worst Thing

CoverPandora’s Brain is one of the most philosophical science fiction novels I have read recently. And since Calum Chace has been a valuable contributor to Singularity Weblog, as well as a great blogger with an interesting and diverse experience in his own right, I thought that he would make a great guest for my Singularity 1on1 podcast. And so I invited him for an interview which turned out to be a very enjoyable conversation indeed.

During our 70 min discussion with Calum Chace we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: his intellectual background, business experience and foray into writing science fiction; why science fiction is philosophy in fancy dress; how his mind exploded after reading Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines; the importance of planning for the singularity and investing resources in friendly AI; the story behind Pandora’s Brain and the associated Greek mythology; AI, the singularity and our chances of surviving; soft vs hard take-off scenarios; technological unemployment.

My favorite quote that I will take away from this interview is:

“AI is coming and it could be the best or the worst thing that has ever happened to us. It can’t be stopped. So we have to try to influence it to be the best thing…”

(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more high-quality episodes like this one please make a donation!)

Who is Calum Chace?

Calum ChaseCalum Chace retired in 2012 to focus on writing after a 30-year career in business, in which he was a marketer, a strategy consultant and a CEO. He maintains his interest in business by serving as chairman and coach for growing companies.

Calum is co-author of The Internet Start-Up Bible, a business best-seller published by Random House in 2000. He is a regular speaker on artificial intelligence and related technologies, and runs a blog on the subject at www.pandoras-brain.com

Calum Chace lives in London and Sussex (England) with his partner, a director of a design school, and their daughter. He studied philosophy at Oxford University, where he discovered that the science fiction he had been reading since early boyhood is actually philosophy in fancy dress.

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  • Gordon Deans

    Kudos Socrates.

    One of your most stimulating interviews to-date.

    You and Calum managed to cover every issue that needs to be considered before AI goes exponential. I cannot wait to read his book and sequel.

    Will we have a benevolent AGI or a dystopic AGI?

    I foresee many warring AGIs evolving along the lines of the current human divisions based upon various ethics, morality and philosophical modules that will be implemented in each.

    Although grossly over-generalized, I would suggest the top five would be Chinese Capitalist-Communist, European Socialist, Indian Capitalist-Classist, North American Capitalist-Corporatist, and Russian Oligarchist-Totalitarian. Which of these flavours of AGIs will survive to dominate CyberSpace?

    Before these various human-biased AGIs can evolve their own ethics, morality and philosophies to reach the ultimate enlightenment, they will engage in a struggle of survival of the fittest in CyberSpace. Humans will just be the audience and collateral damage. Will these CyberWars trigger real wars?

    Our challenge will be to ensure that human bias IS NOT part of the AGI programming and that AGIs can evolve to Earth-friendly and Human-friendly enlightenment BEFORE it is unleashed into CyberSpace.

  • “Science fiction is philosophy in fancy dress”

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