According to computer scientist Donald Knuth, "artificial intelligence has by now succeeded in doing essentially everything that requires 'thinking' but has failed to do most of what people and animals do 'without thinking'; that somehow is much harder." It has come to the point machines are reaching new heights in reasoning, but can not temper their intelligence in any natural manner. It is possible to program a computer to play chess, but impossible to teach it the empathy to let a small child win once in a while to keep them interested.
When I need to go somewhere, and need directions I just ask my phone. "Hey, Siri, how do I get to the North Market on foot?" Siri tells me. Step, by step. Siri knows how to get me almost anywhere. But, has no clue that I can get out of the building. Most people might say, "go to the stop sign, and head west."
Computers, robots, and their controls are insinuating themselves into every aspect of our lives. We read on screens that get the text from cloud services, transmitted via towers controlled by a network of computers.
Traffic patterns are regulated by algorithms designed to keep things flowing smoothly, and cameras record the results, which are stored on and analyzed by a machine. It would be almost impossible to list the many ways and places technology shapes and controls our lives. It would be equally futile to claim we don't benefit immeasurably from the help.
It becomes increasingly obvious that we are more reliant on the convenience of our electronic servants daily. They assume more control, and more responsibility for our every day successes and accomplishment. But, things are not always fool proof, either. Anybody who has spent hours working on a document, presentation, or spreadsheet only to lose it, whether from computer crash, misplaced file, or programming "bug" can tell you about the frustration involved in digital manifestations.
It is impossible for even the best programmers to account for every possibility. One doomsday scenario from Nick Bostrom in "Superintelligence, Paths, Dangers, Stategies." imagine a computer instructed to maximize the production of paper clips. As the machine interprets the instructions it may not be able to make the assumptions that come from years of evolutionary reliance on restraint. In it's quest to complete the program it would eventually convert all of the Earth's resources into office supplies.
Yes, that is an extreme example, but not impossible. And it is only one of many potential catastrophes. And if we know anything about mathematics it is that anything that carries a statistical probability, no matter how minute, that doesn't diminish over time will eventually happen. When the rapid escalation of technological innovation, and our reliance on technology is added, the probability increases.
In future posts we will cover all sorts of potential calamities. There are millions, and it will make a great movie, don't you think?
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The machine apocalypse, oddly.
There is not much to say, but, for those who find any offense, please remember these are only stories, jokes, and have no relation to reality. Kind of like life.
I like life, and hope it lasts a long time, but it does require some explanation, that is why these blogs exist. To help people navigate times and events that make no sense.
Here are a few places you can find a few things.
The Original Life Explained. Where it all started, a little rambling and a lot of nothing important.
Life Explains The End Views on humanity's race to self extinction. I hope I am wrong.
Life Explains Smiles Because everybody likes it when you smile.
Life Explains Aging Getting older is not always easier, but it is worth the effort. And a few small things can make it much more pleasant.
Life Explains Traveling and Commuting Mostly commuting. Driving bugs me and working bugs me so driving to work is the ultimate insult of modern life, and I like to complain.
Life Explained Explores History. The real problem with history is there is so much of it. It is all over the place. But, if you take the time to look at the small pieces it is fascinating.
Life Explains Music Music is a universal language. I like guitar based rock and roll, but there is a little bit of a lot here.