or superhuman intelligence
is a hypothetical entity which possesses intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....
surpassing that of any existing human being. "Superintelligence" may also refer to the specific form or degree of intelligence possessed by such an entity.
The Highest ranges of Intelligence are evaluative.
The possibility of superhuman intelligence is most frequently discussed in the context of artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...
. Increasing natural intelligence through genetic engineering
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism of interest...
or brain-computer interfacing is also a common motif in futurology
Futurists or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose speciality is to attempt to systematically predict the future, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general....
and science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...
. Collective intelligence
Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision making in bacteria, animals, humans and computer networks....
is also often regarded as a pathway to superintelligence or even as an existing realization of the phenomenon.
Superintelligence is defined as intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills.
It is not defined whether superintelligence could be achieved by biological, technical or hybrid means, mixing both. The definition also doesn't say whether superintelligence needs self-consciousness or experience-driven perception.
The transhumanist movement distinguishes between “weak” and “strong” superintelligence. The weak superintelligence
operates on the level of human brains, but much faster. The strong superintelligence
operates on a superior level, such as a human brain is considered to be qualitatively superior to that of a dog's.
In press or colloquial language, intellectual gifted
Intellectual giftedness is an intellectual ability significantly higher than average. It is different from a skill, in that skills are learned or acquired behaviors...
people or the so-called savants
Savant syndrome , sometimes referred to as savantism, is a rare condition in which people with developmental disorders have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance that are in contrast with the individual's overall limitations...
are called superintelligent. Furthermore, clever search algorithms
A web search engine is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web and FTP servers. The search results are generally presented in a list of results often referred to as SERPS, or "search engine results pages". The information may consist of web pages, images, information and other...
or the Semantic Web
The Semantic Web is a collaborative movement led by the World Wide Web Consortium that promotes common formats for data on the World Wide Web. By encouraging the inclusion of semantic content in web pages, the Semantic Web aims at converting the current web of unstructured documents into a "web of...
are sometimes considered to be superintelligent. While these outstanding people or machines have an advantage over an average human brain, they don't qualify as superintelligence, as they don't have superior abilities in cognition or creativity. Also the scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method...
is heterogeneous and not a singular entity and cannot be called a superintelligence.
There are no serious ongoing projects which aim at creating superintelligence. In Transhumanism
Transhumanism, often abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human...
, different currents disagree on the way to create a superintelligence. Roughly, three different paths are outlined:
- A Strong AI
Strong AI is artificial intelligence that matches or exceeds human intelligence — the intelligence of a machine that can successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. It is a primary goal of artificial intelligence research and an important topic for science fiction writers and...
which can learn and improve itself, could after several self-improvements achieve superintelligence. Such an AI has not been devised so far.
- Biological enhancements (breeding, genetic manipulation or medical treatments) could in several iterations induce the state of superintelligence or other superhuman
Superhuman can mean an improved human, for example, by genetic modification, cybernetic implants, or as what humans might evolve into, in the near or distant future...
traits. This is banned or at least strongly discouraged in most societies.
- Cybernetic enhancements could increase the capabilities of the human mind considerably, at least in terms of speed and memory. Technical realization of neural human-computer interfaces has already begun, especially in the field of prostethics. Real enhancements of a human brain are still unimplemented.
Philosophical, cultural and ethical implications of superintelligence are fervidly discussed inside and outside of the transhumanist movement. There are several forms of critique on the aim to build a superintelligence.
Skeptics doubt that superintelligence is possible. The processes inside a brain were too complex to figure out and then simulate in a technical device. The merge of human synapses with electronic devices is considered problematic, since the first is a slow, but living organism and the second a fast, but rigid system. Advocates of transhumanism say that the function of a brain is not so complex that it could never be understood. Furthermore, artificial intelligence isn't limited to simulate organic brains.
Other critics call it hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....
to enhance humans. Especially genetic enhancements are outlawed as eugenics
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...
. There is also fear that superintelligent beings will not benefit mankind, but lead to its demise. Even as advocates claim that a superintelligence is by definition of better nature as ordinary humans, there are no guarantees that a malevolent intelligence can't be a product of trying to create a superintelligence. It should also be mentioned that sometimes the opinions of two parties clash without one of them being "malevolent".
Another argument against enhancement is resentment towards being dependent on cybernetic implants, enhancing drugs etc. Transhumanists argue that an enhanced avantgarde will leave behind those who refuse to upgrade. Critics argue that in conclusion the rich elite will purchase brains with higher capacity to suppress the lower social tiers. Such a process is already visible today in society: Higher social tiers achieve higher degrees of education since they can more easily afford it.