Yuri Milner’s Eureka Manifesto: Navigating the New Frontier of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer confined to science fiction. From ChatGPT to autonomous vehicles, AI now impacts many aspects of our daily lives. The widespread integration of AI has prompted the UK government to investigate associated risks. As a result, British ministers will soon publish criteria for potential new laws regulating AI.

Billionaire tech investor Yuri Milner says the dawning of the AI era represents a pivotal point in human history and the Universal Story. In his 2021 book Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation, he explores the significance of AI and humanity’s role in the future of the Universe.

Yuri Milner’s Mission for Humanity

Many organisations and groups that are committed to achieving a goal have a mission. For example, OpenAI’s mission statement is to “ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.” But human civilisation, the largest group of all, has nothing resembling a shared mission.

In Eureka Manifesto, Milner suggests that our capacity to think, reason, and imagine gives us our mission: to “explore and understand our Universe.” To explore space and time with our eyes and technologies. To understand everything, from the laws of physics to the workings of the mind.

Embracing this mission will help us extend and refine the Universal Story: the story of everything, beginning with the Big Bang. Additionally, everyone can benefit from the discoveries and technological advances we make along the way.

Milner’s plan to achieve this mission includes enabling AI to drive scientific progress. One chapter in Eureka Manifesto highlights the significance of our current moment in the Universal Story and emphasises the impact of AI.

Artificial Intelligence: A New Phase Transition?

In Eureka Manifesto, Milner explains that the Universal Story includes several chapters, or phase transitions. These phase transitions include the emergence of cells, complex life, brains, and science. The dawning of the computer age could represent the start of a new phase transition, one that may transform the very nature of knowledge.

Milner believes AI has the potential to “exponentially improve its own ability to model the world, generate predictions, collect data, and perform experiments.” In other words, to carry out science.

A 2018 survey asked AI researchers when they thought AI would exceed human performance. On average, the experts predicted that this leap would come in around 40 years from then.

However, even today, humans don’t always understand how AI generates solutions. As AI evolves, there could come a time when our minds can’t grasp the answers technology produces — or the questions it asks. Are we standing on the edge of a new phase transition, where human intelligence is no longer the highest on Earth?

The Power of AI to Advance Our Mission

Milner thinks AI could dramatically accelerate the pace of scientific progress, transforming our lives and the whole of human civilisation. This transformation, in turn, could accelerate our mission to explore and understand our Universe.

But will the future of exploration and understanding be human or machine-led? Milner explains that, from the perspective of the mission, it matters less which type of intelligence advances fastest and furthest, but that some intelligence does. We will still fulfil our destiny, whether we or the silicon minds we’ve created make future discoveries.

As a result, we must do our utmost to direct the trajectory of this phase transition towards the mission — while we still have control over AI. Milner believes the technologists currently working to bring AI to fruition will be key players in the next chapter of the Universal Story.

Learn more about Yuri Milner’s mission for humanity in Eureka Manifesto.

About Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former theoretical physicist. He founded the tech investment firm DST Global 15 years ago. Its portfolio has included some of the world’s most prominent internet companies, including Facebook, Alibaba, and Airbnb.

In 2012, Milner and his wife Julia signed the Giving Pledge to formalise their commitment to science philanthropy. The couple established the Breakthrough Foundation to fund various non-profit enterprises, including Tech For Refugees, the Breakthrough Prize, and the Breakthrough Initiatives. Respectively, these projects support the use of technology in humanitarian aid, reward scientific breakthroughs, and advance space science research.

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