Obviously we are discussing an intimately familiar friend here, the word wide web, or WWW. After all, Druid42 and I are debating over it, and you,
Dear reader, are witnessing that debate via it. There are so many ways to get here. PC's, Macs, phones, tablets, gaming systems, even some
televisions. The WWW is quite a marvel. One that has changed the world.
But how many of us ever really stop to wonder about it?
Sure, we're all aware that there is a lot of human generated code involved. Code is becoming a second language for us. Even the tech illiterate among
us use it. If you've made a word bold
on ATS? You've used code. You have, in essense, used the language of the web to
interact with it, and with one another. This is no small consideration and a factor in my position that the WWW is destined to become a form of
. After all. We're already having to learn to speak to it, in it's native tongue, just as it is having to learn to
From our point of view, we simply click the button on a mouse and, rather quickly, a new page appears. Click again, another page. What we do not see
is the complexity involved in this process. The myriad of minor programs and strings of code that must not only interact, in concert, but also travel
great distances, negotiate with other such strings of code, come to an agreement, and then facilitate our travels upon the information highway.
An analog for this would be my mind telling my fingers to type these words. Or your mind telling your eyes to read it.
The WWW already behaves, in many aspects, as an organism
. We hesitate to use such terms - ss
"organism" implies life. All life that we have recognized, so far, is biological in nature. So we cling to that caveat as requisite. We are
currently stuck in this paradigm of thought.
What if we are wrong? What if biology is not requisite for life? What if "life" is a much broader thing than our limited understanding allows us to
Our programs silently work, behind the scenes, and without most of us ever even knowing it. They upgrade, adapt, learn to coexist in our machines
through conflict resolution, communicate with one another ceasinglessly, and perform functions that even the brightest among us sometimes have a
difficult time understanding, much less explaining.
Oh, and not only do they watch us. They actually
learn from us. We are all aware of this in practice. After all, Facebook suggests "likes"
and "friends" to us, and search engines tailor our results to our tastes. All this without us seeing a bit of it happening - and assuming that it's
all some sort of techo-magic performed by wizards with PhD's.
Could the web, as it stands today, actually be considered a form of life? Food for thought as we move forward.
Many great minds currently have a belief that we are on the verge of something they call a
- a technology based event so profound and paradigm
shifting that we simply cannot imagine what the world might be like after the event occurs. The emergence of AI happens to be at the top of the list
of potential candidates for that event.
It's the Cloud
you see. Our fictions have always focused upon the idea that some
supercomputer would achieve consciousness. We were naive. Each computer, even the powerful ones, is simply a receptor cell. It is the cloud that
promises to be the mind. The collection center for that input. If we can accept the network as an analog for an organism - then the Cloud is its
brain. The potential seat of consciousness. But can it think? Can it adapt without human interaction, this Cloud?
Through a new science called Adaptive Dynamic Programming
, yes it can. Just like us,
it will independently interpret data, and make decisions on its own. Some web crawling programs already possess these qualities. Google and its
spiders come to mind.
The "Cloud" is the technological singularity that we've been waiting for. The existing network is it's embryonic body - and the cloud is the
forming consciousness and mind. In our vanity and need to be special, we may well refuse to accept this new form of life - or even seek to destroy it
as a blasphemy. But, ego aside, it will be life, even if not biological. Even if not a mirror for humanity.
The WWW will be the face of AI, I believe. Its ambassador to the human race. The voice it uses to speak to us.
To me the question is not whether it will happen or not. The question is merely "how soon, if not already?"
The bigger question; Are we intelligent and mature enough a species to possess the ability to recognize another intelligence should we encounter it?
When it speaks to us, will we be capable of understanding?