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We talk about it more and more, although we say less and less - we would say borrowing a sarcasm of Ennio Flaiano's taste... As we are reminded daily by the dementia surfacing from the interpretation of the combined provisions of the various decrees issued by 2020, minimizing the risks, exalting or inventing non-existent merits or vice versa, is standard practice, default, propaganda mechanisms that lubricate the political and media gears. It pains me to disappoint the vaccine-sceptics, however: the topic under discussion is the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Swarm, Autonomous and Strong versions.

Biological evolution or theft from humanity? Bach VS Lanier

"If we consider that man is the one who created artificial intelligences, well, then AIs are part of biological evolution itself." would argue the normally smiling Joscha Bach, vice president of the Artificial Intelligence Foundation. "A simple theft from humanity. That's what AIs are. Designed to take from the most and give to the few" the always intellectually independent Jaron Lanier, father of virtual reality, would object.

The fascination of Lanier's ideas is timeless, a bit like my skepticism about the myth and the triumphalism that cloak the idea of Artificial Intelligence. An increasingly omnipervasive phenomenon in our society, a phenomenon that will supplant the idea of humanity and society we have known so far, a phenomenon that, if I were asked to define in 5/6 letters, I would label as Totem.

The new Totem of the society of the future

As reported by Treccani a Totem is

A phenomenon to which is attributed a special relationship with individual social groups; when the relationship is one of kinship, as in the case of the clan or lineage, the totem is considered the progenitor or intimately connected to the person of the progenitor; it is however the object of particular respect and in the case of an animal cannot be killed, nor be the object of hunting.

An idea that fits perfectly with the role to which the idea of Artificial Intelligence is rising in the contemporary world. The case of the "Swarm Intelligence" is just one of the most recent manifestations of the Totem.

Swarm Intelligence

The American aerospace agency NASA came to Italy in 2003, in Pisa, to hold meetings with local researchers in order to develop the first ANTS (Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm), a technology pioneered to facilitate communications between satellites in space and that is now mainly used for military purposes, basically to command swarms of drones (for now).

As reflected in the text of the workshop that is the source of our considerations, ANTSs

are based on a hierarchical social order typical of insects and make use of a system of hierarchically similar neural networks, where the individual spacecraft represents the highest level of the joint ... use swarm intelligence obtained through collective cooperative interactions of all the joints of the neural system.

The hive mind

It is the phenomenon, unfortunately now not only related to ANTS, of the so-called "Hive Mind". An idea of collective mind based on collective behaviors of decentralized and self-organized systems consisting of relatively simple agents interacting locally with each other and with the environment, exactly as natural swarms do. Theme on which NASA, and not only, continues to work hard, despite the great perplexity surfacing when we go to analyze the potential risks.

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There is already little to be enthusiastic about, since, as reported by “NY Post“, MSN, RT and other newspapers, there is already a certain number of incidents of attacks carried out by drones against civilian targets. These are most probably the first cases in which the so called "overinterpretation" of Artificial Intelligences appears. By "overinterpretation" we mean the computational inclusion of meaningless data to which the machines autonomously and independently attribute meaning, a phenomenon that is presumed to be at the basis of the above-mentioned problems with drones and potentially of many others in the future. In fact, it is surprising to note that certain issues are also at the top of the agenda of the World Economic Forum.

Returning to the AIs, one wonders if, being now able to organize and act autonomously in swarms, they are also capable of doing so autonomously.

Autonomous Intelligence and Strong Intelligence

The answer is affirmative, although the idea of Autonomous Artificial Intelligence, also called Full AI, is a little more elaborate concept. It means in fact the "ability of artificial intelligence to understand or learn any intellectual task that until now belonged exclusively to us humans".

And that's not all. In fact, academics postulate with increasing ardor (unfortunately correctly in the eyes of the writer) a further definition for the next level of technological madness at the gates, the so-called "Strong AI". An artificial intelligence capable of experiencing sensations and emotions; a sentient, conscious AI, as Ben Goertzel, the father of Strong AI and founder of "SingularityNET" would say.

Giulio Montanaro
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He debuted as a reporter in 2000 for the group "Il Gazzettino" and collaborates over the years with various newspapers and magazines. Talent scout and agent in the electronic music sector, he cultivates a deep passion for history, philosophy, languages and technology. Author of the blog "Rethinking Intelligence" on Substack.