You are browsing the archive for artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence: The Central Question

10:18 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

AI in the hands of Goldman Sachs?

One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all. –Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, Stuart Russell, Frank Wilczek

I am in the midst of reading, Smart Machines, by John E. Kelly and Steve Hamm of IBM, which is basically a promotion of that multinational’s “Watson” super computer. And it all sounds so wonderful … the millennium has finally arrived and humanity will live happily ever after!

I thought that kind of optimism about technological progress being linked to moral progress was fatally wounded in the trenches of World War One and breathed its last at Auschwitz or Hiroshima (take your pick).

And if the last, deregulated, post-Reagan years have taught us anything: especially the criminal fraud of the invasion of Iraq, followed by the recent and ongoing financial meltdown, it would be that the top of our increasingly oligarchical society is chockablock with shallow, psychopathic/sociopathic manipulators with no empathy for the rest of humanity or care for its general welfare.

Who could be so innocent as to believe that such an instrument as artificial intelligence will not fall into such hands?

And if the 20th century taught us anything at all, it should be that we have no definite answer to The Shadow’s famous question, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

However with the help of Artificial Intelligence we just might get the answer to that one.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

The “butterfly effect” revisited

12:02 pm in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Moth by night

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependency on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks earlier. Wikipedia

I remember that the “butterfly effect” was much in vogue in the late 1990s and was often quoted by the chaos theoreticians that were instrumental in designing the risk modeling that ruled finance up till 2008 and signally failed to predict the implosion of the financial system.

I think that today it would be more appropriate to talk about the “moth effect”.

Moths are not as conventionally “pretty” as butterflies, but are often stunningly beautiful in a rather sinister way; and yes they flap their wings too and they often arrive in large numbers and eat their way through closets full of wool or gardens full of geraniums. 

Unlike the butterfly, the moth is seen as a plague and a pest… you don’t go to the store to buy “butterflyballs”, do you?

And then, rather poetically: on balmy, breathless, summer nights, moths often commit suicide en masse in the flickering flames of dinner candles, driven by their love, need and obsession with light… 

The romantic, sinister, light-driven and pestilent moth: a fitting symbol of our time.

The greatest clusters of metaphorical, wing flapping, wool chewing, suicidal moths that I detect today seem to me to be long term products of our economic system, such as the doomsday effect of global warming and the Oozlum bird effects of the advances in Artificial Intelligence. 

Global warming is the long term effect of the industrial revolution and its spread to the entire globe, but so is Artificial Intelligence.

One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.  Stephen Hawking and friends – Huffington Post

But long before it comes to all that, in the near future AI will be putting nearly everyone (except maybe the people who clip the toenails and give blowjobs to elderly billionaires) out of work.

AI is the result of the geometrically accelerating drive for technological innovation, which we are told is wonderful and which will solve all our problems, but which in fact is not really a search for the greatest good for the greatest number, but on the contrary, generally driven by the intense dog eat dog competition of our economic system, where to avoid being eliminated, management and shareholders are constantly looking for greater efficiencies in cutting costs and getting more productivity with fewer people, even if this reduces the number of potential consumers. The now classic metaphor for this is Kodak, which once had 140,000 employees being replaced by Instagram, which had 13 employees when Facebook bought it.

Ironically, this pressure to innovate may finally be what fatally destabilizes our system.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com


Read the rest of this entry →

Themes for 2012: The Technology (special for the 20 somethings)

9:18 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Probably the most useful service that older people can perform for young people is to convey to them the reality of life-modifying change. Anyone in their sixties, or older, today has seen the “unthinkable” occur several times in the course of their lives and as the song goes, they have probably been “up and down and over and out”, enough times to have absorbed or at least have some intuition of the Buddhist concept of “annica” or impermanence: the constant flux of life.  Having seen so much of it, having had to recycle themselves, perhaps several times, having seen the young and the beautiful wither and die, many older people hate and fear change.

For an older person to welcome change requires having embraced the spiritual value of annica and presents for them a constant inner struggle.

Younger people of course, usually welcome the idea of change, perhaps, because though sensing its value, they have little idea of its price.

Lets look at the changes the future may bring to those who have a lot of future to look forward to. Read the rest of this entry →