The idea of an "intelligence explosion", where artificial intelligence (AI) rapidly surpasses Human intelligence, might be mind-bending for many.  Especially for those not deeply engaged with AI. But what if we could explore this concept through a different lens, one that doesn't involve machines or digital systems at all? This approach could allow us to examine the intelligence explosion in a more approachable and relatable way, potentially making it accessible to a wider audience.

This thought experiment delves into a hypothetical "intelligence explosion", but uses a biological species instead of a "digital intelligence", offering a fresh perspective on intelligence advancement and its potential impacts. By examining how Humans could interact with and react to this species' intelligence growth, we could gain valuable insights into the broader questions surrounding an intelligence explosion, even without directly addressing AI.



The Scenario

  • Suppose Humans shared the world with an equally intelligent species, let's call them "Fluvins".
  • Humans are their normal selves as we see them in the present day.  Fluvins are considered generally as intelligent, but they are much smaller than Humans, say 1cm tall.
  • Humans and Fluvins are able to get along and share the resources of the planet. They coexist stably.
  • The Humans find that the Fluvins can reproduce. But, they don't seem to age, at least on Human time scales. They will breed up to a certain population density and then stop at that level.
  • Then, one day, the Humans discover that the Fluvins have found a way to increase their brain's intelligence and capabilities (at least) exponentially.
  • To simplify the discussion, let's say the Humans also discover that they could slow or stop the Fluvins from increasing their intelligence by including some additives into their water supply.

Questions for Consideration

  • Would/should Humans take actions to try to stop the Fluvins from increasing their intelligence and capabilities?
  • Could the discovery benefit both groups, if cooperatively managed?
  • Does replacing current "digital intelligence" with a similar "biological intelligence" in this thought experiment provide useful parallels, or just distracting differences?


Alternates/Scenarios options

  • What if the Fluvins were able to speak English, post messages and chat online at a Human level? Would that change the calculus?
  • What if only select Fluvins have access to the intelligence advancement?  How could that change their interactions between themselves and the Humans?
  • What if Fluvins offer to enhance Human intelligence as well, once they are capable, in exchange for resource sharing deals?
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>Does replacing current "digital intelligence" with a similar "biological intelligence" in this thought experiment provide useful parallels, or just distracting differences?

I don't see any useful parallels - all the unknowns remain unknown.  It's not that the differences are distracting, it's just that they aren't real, so it's not clear how or whether they matter.

I don't see any useful parallels - all the unknowns remain unknown.


Thank you for your comment! I agree with you in that in general, "all the unknowns remain unknown".  And, I acknowledge the limitations of this simple thought experiment. Though, one main value here could be to help to explain the concept of deciding what to do in the face of an "intelligence explosion", with people that are not deeply engaged with AI and "digital intelligence" over all. I'll add a note about this into the "Intro" section. Thank you.

Can one entity be blanketly more intelligent in every way compared to another, or does being intelligent in one way, necessitate being less intelligent in some other way? If the latter is the case, then there will always be something "humans" can contribute that the Fluvians (digital or not) wont be good at.

Even so, as well as differences in intelligence, there could be benefits of a mixed biological and digital population with such diverse physiology.  Maybe the Fluvians recognize they are more vulnerable to different things than biological organisms (e.g. EMP or entropy or different key resources "running out") and so they appreciate the diversity of having large populations of Humans and work to their benefit.  Perhaps there is even a pact that if Fluvians are wiped out by EMP or computer virus, then Humans will work to restore what they can, and vice versa if there is a human-afflicting virus or something else.

If the differences are recognized and appreciated by both groups rather than just feeling blindly superior in every way, then I would like to think they would help each other using each of their unique abilities.