Page Nav


Classic Header




The evolution of complexity toward our next threshold: Artificial intelligence

Since the Big Bang, from the start of our universe, more and more complex systems evolved. First, elementary particles formed from the en...

Since the Big Bang, from the start of our universe, more and more complex systems evolved. First, elementary particles formed from the energy of the Big Bang. Then, as the universe cooled by expansion, atoms formed in the interaction with nuclear and electromagnetic forces. Then celestial objects, stars, galaxies are created by the ordering force of gravity. As stars are taking their lives paths, they create more and more complex atoms and distribute them into space, again and again, thanks to the extremely tuned setting of the physical laws and parameters of our universe.

As the availability of the more and more complex atoms grows, complex atomic structures, molecules form at the suitable places in the space by the electromagnetic force, finding that the new structures are energetically more stable, so preferred. The phenomenon is a wonder of the physical setting of our universe, and it creates a new level of complexity.

Molecular clouds and the everywhere present force of gravity form uniquely different structures, planets in newly forming star systems. Planets are complex structures of many different components in all possible phases of the matter. If the proper level of available energy present, planets become a dynamical, ever-changing structure of matter. This dynamical, continuous change, the constant mixing of the mater forms new and new structures, which ultimately leads to forming a dynamically stable complex arrangement, leads to the emergence of life.

Life is dynamic stability in a changing environment, which rich in the proper level of energy. Dynamic stability necessarily leads to the ability to grow and reproduce, which are the two main properties of life. Growth and reproduction are properties of the dynamically stable systems. However, even if these systems are stable, still fragile. Even temporary changes in the environment make these systems to disintegrate and cease. Unless they have a relatively stable template of how to assemble the system.

When a dynamically stable, growing, and reproducing system has a reproducing template of the assembly of the system as well, the system becomes more stable and resilient in the changing environment. In the case of disintegration, the template could remain intact and can provide a form to rebuild the system instead of needed to reinvent it again. However, the template is not ultimately stable either. The environment and the reproductive process can make changes in the template. These changes usually make the template unusable to form the system, but some changes are neutral or even produce new properties to the system. Variability arises.

Random but the right changes make the system more suitable in the changing environment, or make the system to remain stable in a new environment. Evolution evolves. As the template changes and suitable creatures are formed, the template becomes more and more complex by the addition of new and new parts, and by this, the creatures become more and more complex too. The template becomes ever-growing information storage as well. And the evolution of life continues by adding more and more information into the templates, creating more and more complex species, creating the flora and fauna, creating a whole ecosystem. Everything is based on changes in the template and the selection by adaptability and suitability to the environment.

As more and more complex systems evolve, the evolution accidentally but ultimately can lead to a very specific creature, which can lead to a conscious and effective problem solver, to an intelligent being, to the homo habilis. The homo habilis then understand, and intentionally change the environment, creates societies, forms technical development.

Does complexity grow in this process? Growing complexity is not an accompanying property of the evolution of a system. Complexity grows only if the states of the particles of the system, and the interactions between the particles have more cardinalities on the new level of the evolved system, then on the previous level. It is not inherent, but it is true in the above describe evolution. Atoms have more distinct states and can interact with each other in more different ways than elementary particles. Molecules have more distinct states and can interact with each other in more different ways than atoms. Planets have more distinct states and can have more different interactions than molecules can have. Life has more distinct states and can have more different interactions than planets can have. Intelligent societies can have more distinct states and can have more different interactions than other living species can have. Complexity is growing.

We, humans, are here. We built complex societies, technical civilizations. We are capable to adapt ourselves to very different circumstances. We occupied the whole surface of the Earth, even started to live in space. We ultimately are able to create livable microcosms in a wide range of environments. Environmental changes, like the apparent global warming (It is the most significant problem among many others, which is caused by us. We are our biggest enemies.) or other changes can cause harm to us and can harm the whole ecosystem. Yet, we are intelligently resilient to survive. If we can survive, all the challenges make us stronger, smarter, and even more resilient. The challenges can be difficult to solve, can cause pain, suffering, and even degradation on the society level. However, if we, as a species can survive, the found solutions will make us more capable.

We, the human race is here now. We are using available resources extensively. It is not sustainable to use the resources more than it is recycled or renewed. The extensive growth must end before major trauma arises. Or after it. We might not be able to avoid the trauma. However, if we can survive, it will make us more adaptable. Yet, knowing our history we can see, these cycles repeat. We hardly gain wisdom from experience. We are smart, yet instinct-driven animals.

Where does our intelligence lead us in this process? Are we heading somewhere? What will be our next threshold? The next one might be the threshold for any intelligent, technical civilization.

We are approaching a new, determining goldilocks condition. Our technical development is aiming for the rise of technical intelligence. We are on the path toward the intelligent and might conscious machine. If we reach that level, it will be a fundamentally new situation, a determining and new challenge for us.

The transition already started. More and more machines doing things that we used to do. The rise of technical intelligence is much more important than any other scientific and industrial revolution. Technical intelligence can work for us or against us, and it is up to us. It can bring good by liberating us to new freedom. Could we use this freedom for our benefit? Not easy to say yes. In either way, many of us can become obsolete. And it is happening right now. Advanced societies are already shrinking. It can be explained with many reasons, but the bottom line is if the need is not present, then the attribution fulfilling the need diminishes until it ceases. It is a natural law, and it is valid for every level of complexity. The need for us is diminishing.

Will we be replaced, or will we become a new type of intelligence? The answer is unknown, but we are approaching rapidly to this threshold. Which possibility is better? From the viewpoint of growing complexity, it does not matter. Both possibilities are evolution. This transition, if we can hold until that, is not too far. The technical development is accelerating. One result of this transition is that we can become a skeleton in a museum, a relic of a disappeared ancestor, or we, the human race can continue our own evolution toward a non-biological species and become one of the other interstellar intelligence. The crossroad is ahead of us, and we are approaching it faster than we think.

No comments