How Do You Find Emergent Intelligence on the Internet?

How would we know if there was an autonomous conscious superorganism? We would need a Turing Test for a global AI. But the Turing Test is flawed for this search because it is meant to detect human-like intelligence, and if a consciousness emerged at the scale of a global megacomputer, its intelligence would unlikely to be anything human-like. We might need to turn to SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), for guidance. By definition, it is a test for non-human intelligence. We would have to turn the search from the stars to our own planet, from an ETI, to an ii - an internet intelligence. I call this proposed systematic program Sii, the Search for Internet Intelligence.

This search assumes the intelligence we are looking for is not human-like. It may operate at frequencies alien to our minds. Remember the tree-ish Ents in Lord of the Rings? It took them hours just to say hello. Or the gas cloud intelligence in Fred Hoyle's "The Black Cloud". A global conscious superorganism might have "thoughts" at such a high level, or low frequency, that we might be unable to detect it. Sii would require a very broad sensitivity to intelligence.

But as Allen Tough, an ETI theorist told me, "Unfortunately, radio and optical SETI astronomers pay remarkably little attention to intelligence. Their attention is focused on the search for anomalous radio waves and rapidly pulsed laser signals from outer space. They do not think much about the intelligence that would produce those signals." The cloud computer a global superorganism swims in is nothing but unnatural waves and non-random signals, so the current set of SETI tools and techniques won't help in a Sii.

For instance, in 2002 researchers analyzed some 300 million packets on the internet to classify their origins. They were particularly interested in the very small percentage of packets that passed through malformed. Packets (the message's envelope) are malformed by either malicious hackers to crash computers or by various bugs in the system. Turns out some 5% of all malformed packets examined by the study had unknown origins - neither malicious origins nor bugs. The researchers shrug these off. The unreadable packets are simply labeled "unknown." Maybe they were hatched by hackers with goals unknown to the researches, or by bugs not found. But a malformed packet could also be an emergent signal. A self-created packet. Almost by definition, these will not be tracked, or monitored, and when seen shrugged off as "unknown."

There are scads of science fiction scenarios for the first contact (awareness) of an emerging planetary AI. Allen Tough suggested two others:

One strategy is to assume that Internet Intelligence might have its own web page in which it explains how it came into being, what it is doing now, and its plans and hopes for the future. Another strategy is to post an invitation to ii (just as we have posted an invitation to ETI). Invite it to reveal itself, to dialogue, to join with us in mutually beneficial projects. It is possible, of course, that Internet Intelligence has made a firm decision not to reveal itself, but it is also possible that it is undecided and our invitation will tip the balance.

The main problem with these "tests" for a conscious ii superorganism is that they don't seem like the place to begin. I doubt the first debut act of consciousness is to post its biography, or to respond to an evite. The course of our own awakening consciousness when we were children is probably more fruitful. A standard test for self-awareness in a baby or adult primate is to reflect its image back in a mirror. When it can recognize its mirrored behavior as its own it has a developed sense of self. What would the equivalent mirror be for an ii?


How would you communicate with it? How would it reveal itself?

Folksonomies: artificial intelligence intelligence emergence turing test

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Consciousness (0.958320): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Philosophy of mind (0.796418): dbpedia | freebase
Turing test (0.707545): dbpedia | freebase
SETI (0.625366): dbpedia
Mind (0.618326): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Chinese room (0.617651): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Alan Turing (0.591855): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Artificial intelligence (0.492356): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism
Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Kelly, Kevin , Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism, The Technium Blog, Retrieved on 2013-11-15
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: emergence consciousness


    15 NOV 2013

     Emergent Intelligence on the World Wide Web

    Notes on the possibility that the Internet could produce intelligence, and the question of how we could detect it.