A little over eight years I came across a report, Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance (pre-publication on-line version), June 2002, U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Commerce, pp. 164, 165 PDF File (4.7 MB), and wrote a commentary about it:
The Hive Mind: Rebirth or the End of Humanity?
Will the innovations brought by converging technologies for improving human performance augment or eliminate humans?
This morning I listened to the radio and heard part of a discussion with Dr. Charles Higgins from the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Arizona. He basically appears to be a proponent of much of what the commentary mentioned above targets, but he seems to have his feet a bit more firmly on the ground than the US National Science Foundation does. I gathered from that discussion that we are still a long way off from creating an artificial intelligence that comes close to competing with human abilities, let alone equal or surpass them.
It appears that since the original report by the NSF and the DoC, the creation of artificial intelligence has not made much more inroads than to begin investigating the workings of the brain of the honey bee at a very rudimentary level, with an amount of equipment and a state of sophistication that is still a far cry from the lofty and ambitious goals set by the NSF and the DoC, but it is a first step. The amount of progress made towards creating the hive mind is comparable to putting the stakes into the ground for a massive building, say, the Capitol Building in Washington DC, without the funding for the rest of it having yet been authorized, let alone secured — except that putting the stakes into the ground for a building that size today would require vastly less money than appears to have been consumed by Dr. Higgins in his efforts to investigate the workings of the brain of the honey bee and other insects that were the targets of his research. However, what does that matter? The source of funding for both of those endeavors is inexhaustible taxpayer money. There is no doubt in my mind that inexhaustible funding will be required and much of it consumed in the quest for the creation of the hive mind.
I will cover some of the impressions I gained by listening to the discussion involving Dr. Higgins, in this blog posting, which as of now is a place-holder and will be updated today and perhaps during a few more days before it is complete.