It’s easy to become preoccupied with the latest wave of technological triumphs and at the same time lose track of their implications for humanity.
Like the proverbial frog-in-the-gradually-heated-to-boiling-pot, we might be distracted by the glare of progress at the very moment that critical lines delineating humans versus machines are blurred.
CDL is traditionally focused on building and “getting things done.” Sometimes, however, it helps to step back and reflect. That’s the purpose of the CDL Reading Group.
The CDL Reading Group, led by Professor Ajay Agrawal, brings together about 200 scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, government officials, professors, and students.
Since last year, the CDL Reading Group has met weekly to discuss these texts:
- Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future, by Tim Urban (2017)
- On Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins (2004)
- A Collection of Definitions of Intelligence, by Shane Legg and Marcus Hutter (2007); On the Measure of Intelligence, by Francois Chollet (2019); “John McCarthy’s Definition of Intelligence” by Richard Sutton in Journal of Artificial General Intelligence 11(2) 66-67, 2020
- The Perfect Match, by Ken Liu (2012)
- Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan (2019)
- The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values, by Brian Christian (2020)
- Nexus, by Ramez Naam (2012)
- The State Machine & Under the Gaze of Big Mother, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne (2020)
- Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
- Machinehood, S.B. Divya (2021)
- Of the Madness of Mad Scientists and Cryogenics: A Symposium, from In Other Worlds, by Margaret Atwood (2011)
- The Future of Everything, a 6min speech by Margaret Atwood (2018)
- Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction, by Richard Sutton and Andrew Barto (second edition, 2020)
- Three stories from the book Falling in Love with Hominids, by Nalo Hopkinson (2015)
- Message in a Bottle
- Old Habits
- Men Sell Not Such in Any Town
- A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins (2021)
In April 2021, CDL Reading group members discussed robot dreaming and consciousness in the context of this debate topic quoted directly from A Thousand Brains (Hawkins, 2021): Machines that can remember states as they occur and can replay these memories would be aware and conscious of their existence, in the same way that humans are.