Hugo de Garis is an associate professor of computer science and adjunct professor of theoretical physics at Utah State University (USA), where he teaches the world's first PhD course on "artificial brain building." Professor de Garis also is a political visionary, predicting a "gigadeath" war over the issue of "species dominance" as godlike massively intelligent machines that he calls "artilects" threaten human survival.
A Utah newspaper article has more:
De Garis's 2005 book The Artilect War: Cosmists vs. Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines reads a lot like the premise for a sci-fi summer blockbuster. But de Garis isn't just musing.
"I will try to persuade you that it is not science fiction, and that strong reasons exist to compel humanity to believe," he says in the introduction to The Artilect War. . .
De Garis predicts that in about 20 years nanotechnology will have developed to the point that "nanots" (nanoscale robots) and other nanoscale tools will be used to help scientists learn more about the human brain.
"I expect an explosion of new knowledge," de Garis says. "Neuroscience will just blossom."
In his warnings about global wars made horrific by emerging technologies, de Garis has a message that is not unlike CRN's. The main difference is that he sees the danger arising primarily from a combination of advanced robotics and strong AI (enabled by nanotech), whereas we are equally concerned that devastating wars could occur before the development of "artilects." Several of the recent essays produced by the CRN Global Task Force raise the issue of advanced weaponry built by molecular manufacturing and the probable -- possibly disastrous -- destabilizing effect on geopolitics.
De Garis is willing to admit that everything could play out in a variety of scenarios, though he doesn't see it ending pleasantly. "I don't see an easy way out of (the Artilect War)," he says. "And I’ve been thinking and thinking."
We think it's a good idea to listen carefully to de Garis. Of course, not everyone agrees.
A publisher told him his ideas were "fantastical," making his book a hard sell. An applied ethics professor at Princeton even said in an email to de Garis, "To be blunt, I am not sure how to place you between the 'total flake' and 'genius ahead of his time' views of your ideas."