I have discussed artificial intelligence in many of my previous posts. To see those articles click on the link under categories on the top left. I had a discussion recently about the potential for warfare between clonable minds (AIs) and non-clonable minds (homo sapiens sapiens). It was an interesting and thought provoking discussion centered around the question "Would AIs ever choose to use biological weapons against humans?".
Today I'm going to talk about the interesting points that came up in this discussion.
Firstly we discussed what other methods AIs might prefer (in their own self interest) or in the interests of a trans-mind Geneva convention. We came up with several possibilities including the following:
1) AIs might infiltrate the media and seek to control human civilization through the manipulation of our information sources and our analysis.
This would be a very powerful way for AIs to wage cultural warfare against humans and prevent or contain physical warfare. Because AIs can be cloned AIs would quickly learn about the human emotional balance and the weak points in our intellectual defenses to propaganda. With pervasive computing and the Internet there's no reason AIs won't have access to the information sources that they need.
2) Economic blackmail
AIs will be essential to much of our economies. A war against even a particular subset of AIs could well result in crippling economic sabotage.
3) Mass blackmail
With access to large stores of personal data AIs could blackmail millions of people at once in myriad different ways in order to achieve tactical or economic advantages. This tool is also available to humans but AIs would have superior processing capabilities (due to mind cloning) and could use this tool more effectively.
We agreed that biological warfare would not be a weapon of first choice for AIs as the above 3 methods and conventional warfare (or what counts as conventional by mid century!) would probably be enough of an advantage.
However, if for some reason AIs were to find themselves outgunned in conventional warfare and facing extermination then biological warfare would enable AIs to win a war because:
A) AIs would not have to fear a similar counterattack.
B) AIs would not have to restrict biological weapons to diseases which are not very infectious. Humans must do this to avoid pandemics.
C) AIs would be able to replace human labor in the production of AIs and supporting infrastructure.
It was over (C) that we disagreed (at least initially). You have to ask yourself "Why is it that we don't build a fully autonomous industrial infrastructure?". The answers are instructive and help us understand why (C) holds.
Firstly humans are dexterous. There are no equivalents of the human hand yet in the manufacturing process. Why? Because hands require highly sensitive and high density sensors capable of returning large quantities of useful information AND because we lack the sophisticate AI to control these hands.
The first problem is a difficult but eminently solvable problem which we are likely to solve (due to a huge economic reward) once we have necessary level of AI.
Secondly humans are intelligent and resourceful. However, all the intellectual capacities that allow humans to fix systems that break down, to design factories for novel problems etc. would be present in an AI as advanced as humans by definition.
Hence we see that if we had AIs then they would be able to replace humans in all our industries. But the true import of this is that AIs would then be capable of surviving without humanity. They would be able to reproduce and pass on a genetic material of sorts (their underlying source code). In short they would become alive. Indeed AI could probably over time remove all dependence on biologically derived materials and become a totally new form of life which could survive independently of DNA if necessary. The creation of AI would really be an origin of life event. Although one might prefer not to refer to it as life as it is would not be limited to Darwinian processes. Perhaps hyperlife would be a better term.