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A superintelligence is an intelligence system that rapidly increases its intelligence in a short time, specifically, to surpass the cognitive capability of the average human being. Superintelligence has been used in science fiction, and in discussions around artificial intelligence, to understand some of the ramifications of a quickly evolving intelligence model in IT.
Part of the idea of superintelligence is that certain kinds of artificial intelligence work are theoretically capable of triggering a “runaway reaction” where an artificial intelligence far exceeds human capacity for thought and starts to manipulate or control humans in specific ways. Superintelligence is tied to the idea of a “singularity,” which is based on the idea that a catalyst or trigger would cause rapid change beyond what humans can anticipate.
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As such, superintelligence plays a significant role in many of the discussions about the ethics of artificial intelligence, how to proceed with artificial intelligence progress, and how to shield humanity from some of the liabilities of a potential runaway artificial intelligence model. The theory of superintelligence coming to harm humanity relies on the idea that an artificial intelligence could find ways to manipulate humans without escaping a particular interface or system, which does not seem very feasible based on current technologies. However, as interfaces and systems become more interactive and humans approach virtual models of communication, concerns about superintelligence can seem more well-founded.