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Hugo de Garis

Hugo de Garis (born 1947, Sydney, Australia) is an associate professor of computer science at Utah State University. He is known for his work on artificial intelligence. His work has attracted many critics, most of whom object to his view of eventual AI dominance over humans.

De Garis's early studies were on theoretical physics, but he abandoned this field of research in favour of artificial life and artificial intelligence. He invented a new field of this science known as evolvable hardware. This involves evolving neural net circuits directly in hardware at hardware speeds to build artificial brains.

The technique, involving development and use of neurons using a 3D cellular automaton, seems to have been used with success to build simple functionalities like the xor function, but, up to now, failed to evolve anything that could be considered as a brain, or even a serious robot control system. His current project is to assemble thousands of these 'brains' into a larger artificial intelligence architecture to make a functioning AI.

He predicts that one day intelligent machines (or 'artilects', as he calls them) will be far more intelligent than humans and threaten to dominate the world, resulting in a conflict between 'cosmists', or supporters of the artilects, and 'terrans', those who oppose the artilects (both of these are terms of his invention). He describes this conflict as the 'gigadeath war'. He has recently authored a book describing his views on this topic titled The Artilect War.

Cosmists and Terrans

Cosmism, according to de Garis, is a moral philosophy that favors building or growing artificial intelligence, and ultimately leaving the planet Earth to the Terrans, e.g. Kevin Warwick, Bill Joy, who oppose this path for humanity. In his essay "The Artilect War ", De Garis predicts that the factions will war to the death.

De Garis relates that "just out of curiosity, I asked Kevin whether he was a Terran or a Cosmist. He said he was against the idea of artilects being built (i.e., he is Terran). I was surprised, and felt a shiver go up my spine. That moment reminded me of a biography of Lenin that I had read in my 20s in which the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks first started debating the future government of Russia. What began as an intellectual difference ended up as a Russian civil war after 1917 between the white and the red Russians."

Accordingly, the war might be said to have begun at a debate in Zurich on March 22, 2000. Some technologists, such as Bill Joy, Ray Kurzweil, and Hans Moravec; a few physicists; and mathematicians, such as Roger Penrose, have taken positions in this "war".


  • Humans should not stand in the way of a higher form of evolution. These machines are godlike. It is human destiny to create them.

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Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04