Artificial Superintelligence (ASI)

What is Artificial Superintelligence?

Artificial superintelligence (ASI) is a term used to describe a hypothetical form of autonomous, self-aware artificial intelligence (AI) that surpasses human intelligence.

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These machines would feature highly advanced reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving capabilities far beyond the creative or logical capabilities of any human being.

Such solutions could be used in almost any field, with the ability to process vast data and to innovate and solve problems across fields like mathematics, science, technology, medicine, and potentially even the arts.

How to Create Artificial Superintelligence?

At this stage, achieving artificial superintelligence would require significant advancements in AI research. More specifically, researchers first need to create artificial general intelligence (AGI).

AGI is a type of AI that can perform lots of tasks on a similar level to humans. In contrast, the artificial superintelligence definition describes an AI system that surpasses human capabilities in virtually all tasks.

Currently, there is no existing example of AGI to point to. The closest researchers have come so far in the popular imagination has been creating large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT, which can analyze and respond to human natural language.

However, these systems are best described as weak AI, as while they excel at performing individual tasks, they’re not sentient, lacking the ability to think and solve problems in a broad sense.

For example, ChatGPT is designed to analyze patterns in natural language and to predict a sequence of words that will best respond to a user’s prompt. It doesn’t think of a response in the way that a human being would.

In this sense, in order to create artificial superintelligence, researchers first need to build a neural network that’s complex enough to replicate human thought. Once this is done, they can start to make that network more powerful.

Examples of Artificial Superintelligence (ASI)

Given that ASI is a theoretical concept, the only examples of this type of AI are in fictional novels and films.

In any case, some of the most famous examples of ASI are as follows:

  • Hal 9000: It is the infamous AI assistant in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (based on Arthur C.Clarke’s Space Odyssey series), which controls systems on the Discovery One spaceship.
  • J.A.R.V.I.S: It is a virtual assistant created by the fictional character Tony Stark and featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (including Iron Man, The Avengers film series), which can perform various tasks, including piloting the Iron Man suit.
  • MU-TH-UR 6000: MU-TH-UR 6000 or mother is a fictional AI solution featured in Ridley Scott’s Alien, which autopilot and operating systems on a spaceship called the Nostromo.
  • Allied Mastercomputer (AM): AM is a supercomputer featured in I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, a science fiction story written by Harlan Ellison about an AI solution that hates its creators and attempts to take out its rage on humanity.

Each of the examples can be considered a form of ASI because they had access to knowledge and abilities beyond that of a human being.

Characteristics of ASI

Characteristics of Artificial Superintelligence

An ASI solution would have a number of core characteristics and technologies. Some of these are as follows:

Characteristics and Technologies Description
Neural Network An ASI solution would feature a complex neural network that acts as an extremely high-powered version of the human brain.
Large Language Models (LLMs) ASI would also use LLMs to power natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) capabilities to be able to communicate with human users.
Multimodal Support Artificial superintelligence also needs to be able to respond to various types of input, including, text, images, audio, and video, to be able to perceive its environment.
AI-Driven Inventions and Programming ASI solutions would also have the ability to create their own inventions and code, developing new solutions without human intervention.

Advantages of Artificial Superintelligence

Developing artificial superintelligence would provide society with some significant advantages. These include:

  • Improved Problem-Solving: The ability of artificial superintelligence to process and resolve complex problems at high speeds could be used to create new solutions in advanced areas like space travel and healthcare, which are beyond human capabilities to address.
  • Automation and Efficiency: An artificial superintelligence could automate a wide range of tasks that are unrewarding or even dangerous for human users, from everyday tasks like data entry, manufacturing, and logistics tasks, to more hazardous use cases like bomb disposal.
  • Less Chance of Errors: Human beings make mistakes, but a highly-developed supercomputer wouldn’t. This would be particularly useful when it comes to mundane tasks like data entry and filling out paperwork, but could even extend to accurately diagnosing human patients and discovering effective treatment options.
  • 24/7 Availability: Unlike humans, computers don’t need to sleep. This means that a post-ASI supercomputer would be available to complete tasks 24/7.

Disadvantages of Artificial Superintelligence

While artificial superintelligence could have a positive impact on society, there is also the potential for some significant negative impacts. These include:

  • Lack of Control: The immense power and complexity of a superintelligence system would make it difficult for human users to understand or control.
  • Opens the Door to Existential Risk: It is possible that ASI could autonomously perceive human beings as a threat and decide to end human life on earth (it is unclear if this could be prevented and if there are controls that could align these systems with human values).
  • Mass Unemployment: ASI could potentially eliminate millions of jobs simply by automating everyday manual tasks. This could be immensely damaging to the livelihood of human beings across the world if new jobs aren’t created.
  • Potential for Cyberwarfare: There is the potential that rogue nation-states could look to develop and weaponize their own ASI solutions to engage in highly damaging cyber warfare against other countries.
  • Ethical Challenges: Developing an artificial superintelligence raises ethical questions about the types of biases and prejudices it is trained on. Different groups and cultures have different sets of values – so would an ASI respect these viewpoints or simply ignore them in its decision-making?

The Bottom Line

For now, Artificial superintelligence remains a far-off concept, but as advancements in AI evolve it’s possible that will see such systems emerge – particularly if AGI comes to fruition.

Until then, society has a long way to go to better understand and address the risks presented by weak AI.

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Tim Keary
Technology Specialist

Tim Keary is a freelance technology writer and reporter covering AI, cybersecurity, and enterprise technology. Before joining Techopedia full-time in 2023, his work appeared on VentureBeat, Forbes Advisor, and other notable technology platforms, where he covered the latest trends and innovations in technology. He holds a Master’s degree in History from the University of Kent, where he learned of the value of breaking complex topics down into simple concepts. Outside of writing and conducting interviews, Tim produces music and trains in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).