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Intelligent and Distributed Systems

Whether we are based on carbon or silicon makes no fundamental difference. We should each be treated with appropriate respect.- Arthur C. Clarke, 2010

Not all intelligences in the future have to be human or even remotely like us. Some may be artificial, built or evolved to specification. Others may be partially organic and partially artificial, and many will probably be distributed between many processing units or bodies.

The idea that humanity, together with our technology, could form a superorganism is actually quite old. This could range from a ubiquitious distributed intelligence resulting from a myriad of interconnected systems, or an actual group intelligence.


Ethics and Human-AI Relations
Distributed Intelligence
Other Sites
See Also



Thinking Machines: How Can They Be Made, and When?, chapter from Beyond Humanity by Gregory S. Paul and Earl Cox. A sketch of different ways towards AI, intelligence amplification or distributed intelligence.

Intelligent Systems. An excellent overview of the intersection between AI, alife and complexity. Gives a sense of the history of the domain and the state of the art.

How Long Before Superintelligence? by Nick Bostrom. Discusses reasons for believing artificial intelligence more capable than human intelligence could be developed within the first third of the 21st century.

The Homo Cyber Sapiens, the Robot Homonidus Intelligens, and the 'artificial life' approach to artificial intelligence by Luc Steels. Sketches potential future evolutions of intelligence. (Postscript document)

The Hyperchess Challenge by Lyle Burkhead. An extension of chess, where the goal is to create minds able to win the game.

The Motivations of Superintelligences by Nicholas Bostrom. What would motivate very advanced intelligences? Which motivational structures are stable if they can change themselves?

Autobiography of a thought. Short fiction about AI.

The Philosophy and Future of AI by Mark Humphrys. Takes the view that human-level AI is possible but will not likely happen due to the complexities of creating an AI culture. Many good links.

Ethics and Human-AI Relations

AI poses unique ethical problems. Traditional ethics only assumes one kind of entity, humans, which are essentially alike. But if AI is possible, then there may exist many different kinds of entities of different levels of intelligence, awareness and with possibly designer-determined beliefs and values. This poses many troubling questions like whether it is acceptable to create an intelligent being that will gladly work for the benefit of an owner rather than itself, or at which level of intelligence to give AI rights.

There are also worries that humans and AI will not get along well, mainly exemplified by the old idea of machines taking over the world and treating humans as slaves, pets or pests. More subtle problems could be that AI surpasses human capacity and gains totally incomprehensible goals. Part of this is likely just ordinary mammalian worries about competitors and xenophobia, but the issue of how to handle interactions with truly nonhuman intelligence still remains unexplored.

Cosmism: Nano Electronics and 21st Century Global Ideological Warfare by Dr. Hugo de Garis . A somewhat pessimistic outlook on the risks of conflict between the 'cosmists' (essentially transhumanists seeking to expand intelligence with no limit) and the 'terrestrialists' (who seek to keep mankind and Earth dominant). Contains an appendix dealing with evolving brains based on cellular automata. Great food for thought.

Moral Dilemmas Concerning the Ultra Intelligent Machine Dr. Hugo de Garis (Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 1990). Calls for the development of a moral philosophy dealing with artificial intelligence.

The Brain Builder (Roderick Simpson, Wired Dec 97). Interview with Hugo de Garis.

The Architect of Man's Demise (Kristi Coale , Wired Aug 97). Interview with Hugo de Garis.

Distributed Intelligence

Networking in the Mind Age by Alexander Chislenko. Discusses the possibilities of distributed intelligence.

Vernetzung im Zeitalter des Geistes by Alexander Chislenko (German version in Telepolis).

From World-Wide Web to Super-Brain node in Principia Cybernetica. About how the Net could develop into a kind of superintelligence.

Messy Futures and Global Brains by Gottfried Mayer-Kress. Can the internet act as a conflict solver or regulator for the post-Cold War world?

Global Brains as Paradigm for a Complex Adaptive World by Gottfried Mayer-Kress. As the world becomes more interconnected, it becomes more similar to a metaorganism.

Internet for Things that Think by Ed Fredkin.

Other Sites

Hans Moravec's home page.

AI in Yahoo

Brain News and links to AI.

AI on the Web. Links collected by Stuart Russell.

Artificial Intelligence in


Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind Simon & Schuster 1988. An abstract model of how minds might work as distributed networks of agents.

Hans Moravec, Robot: From Mere Machine to Transcendent Thought Oxford University Press, 1998. An overview of the development of AI and robotics, and a discussion of possible future developments. It is a sequel/updated version of Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence, Harvard University Press 1988.

Moravec Mulls Mind (Denis Susac, Review of Robot.

Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines : When Computer Exceed Human Intelligence, Viking Pr. 1999.

Gregory Stock, Metaman : The Merging of Humans and Machines into a Global Superorganism Simon & Schuster 1993

See also

Posthuman Page
Intelligence Amplification
Information Management

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Anders Sandberg /