Via Sentient Developments, futurist and Singularity Summit co-organizer Michael Anissimov on radically amplified human intelligence (IA) as potentially even more powerful, and dangerous, than artificially intelligent machines:
The real objective of IA is to create “super-Einsteins”, persons qualitatively smarter than any human being that has ever lived. There will be a number of steps on the way there.
The first step will be to create a direct neural link to information. Think of it as a “telepathic Google.”
The next step will be to develop brain-computer interfaces that augment the visual cortex, the best-understood part of the brain. This would boost our spatial visualization and manipulation capabilities. Imagine being able to imagine a complex blueprint in high detail, or to learn new blueprints quickly.
The third step involves the genuine augmentation of pre-frontal cortex. This is the Holy Grail of IA research — enhancing the way we combine perceptual data to form concepts.
Chemicals are not targeted enough to produce big gains in human cognitive performance. The evidence for the effectiveness of current “brain-enhancing drugs” is extremely sketchy. [And] attempts to overclock the brain usually cause it to break, as demonstrated by the horrific effects of amphetamine addiction. To achieve real strides will require brain implants with connections to millions of neurons. This will require millions of tiny electrodes, and a control system to synchronize them all. It will be a while before this is possible — at least 15 to 20 years.
Improvement in IA rests upon progress in nano-manufacturing. Brain-computer interface engineers, like Ed Boyden at MIT, depend upon improvements in manufacturing to build these devices.
One of the most salient side effects would be insanity. The human brain is an extremely fine-tuned and calibrated machine. Most perturbations to this tuning qualify as what we would consider “crazy.” Even in the case of perfect sanity, side effects might include seizures, information overload, and possibly feelings of egomania or extreme alienation. Smart people tend to feel comparatively more alienated in the world, and for a being smarter than everyone, the effect would be greatly amplified.
The problem with IA is that you are dealing with human beings, and human beings are flawed. People with enhanced intelligence could still have a merely human-level morality, leveraging their vast intellects for hedonistic or even genocidal purposes. [AI robots], on the other hand, can be built from the ground up to simply follow a set of intrinsic motivations that are benevolent, stable, and self-reinforcing.