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doc.fixit

AI, Modern Magic or Dangerous Future?

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Just trying to read the above book by Yorick Wilkes. Wondered if any of you lot had opinions on the question? It's artificial intelligence by the way, not a person's name. That comment is for those of you who might try to be too daft about a serious question. lol.

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With greater complexity, there is greater risk of possession of the AI by other dimensional entities. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics are nice but impractical wishful thinking.

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There are some very strange and plausible prophesies going around. Some suggesting that we could become part of a huge network linked by AI, all our thoughts and feelings can be easily controlled using electrical and chemical stimuli. Simply placing a chip into our body or a tattoo may be the way that we are linked in from birth? We would in effect be controlled either by some collective or a super computer network. The benefits are that illness can be eliminated and diseases can be fought apparently? We would effectively all be part of a giant computer game!  

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There is a very insidious and powerful danger from AI. Yes it will "improve" lives - if you think that living longer into decrepitude on a planet of finite resources with an ever-increasing population is an improvement. It will also concentrate more decision-making power and wealth into the hands of the few; devaluing, disempowering and impoverishing ordinary folk unless current economic models are radically changed.

Neither of these "prophesies" are scaremongering; human longevity and population has increased significantly and quality of life has, I think, on average diminished since microprocessor-based technologies became ubiquitous - and AI is set to accelerate these trends. Imagine living 20% longer and having a low-value, impoverished and "meaningless" existence; doesn't sound like much of a recipe for happiness or harmony.

AI will be a real challenge to humanity unless we can evolve our society to accommodate it. The more that we permit computers to do for us the less there is for humans to do, and humans need to do something in order to have a fulfilling existence even if it's a hard grind. Track record to date has not been good. Don't have any real solutions or quick fixes!

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I don't think that extended longevity is going to continue as we have been led to believe for a very long time. At least not in the Western world of excess, comfort, sedentary lifestyles and obesity. All the talk of 100 plus becoming commonplace is fantasy and we may well be at the peak. It's difficult to imagine some of the extremely fat middle aged of today living longer than their parents, and I see average lifespan starting to regress in the coming decades. Also if, as we know, the power vested in AI is concentrated in the hands of a few powerful people, there is no incentive for them to promote longer life for the plebs or a higher number of working plebs if AI can do the work instead. The planet would be far more agreeable for the elite if it had less strain on limited resources. That means a lower population.

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I'd like to agree with you @woolley, but I think there is still scope for significant population growth and life extension; progress over the past century has been incredible, childhood mortality rates have plummeted and plenty of fat unhealthy folk are surviving to be very old - the medics just keep on preventing them from dying!  The only country which really tried to constrain population growth in living memory, China, failed miserably. 

Earth's human population has grown from 3B to 7.5B and longevity has increased by c.38% since 1960. Rate of increase in both may be slowing, but a cure for cancer would probably allow both to accelerate again for a while and I think AI is likely to enable that - very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.

I don't think there's much doubt that the Earth needs a lower population - now, pre AI - and has done for a few decades, but it ain't happening yet.

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7 minutes ago, craggy_steve said:

I'd like to agree with you @woolley, arth's human population has grown from 3B to 7.5B and longevity has increased by c.38% since 1960. Rate of increase in both may be slowing, but a cure for cancer would probably allow both to accelerate again for a while and I think AI is likely to enable that - very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.

I don't think there's much doubt that the Earth needs a lower population - now, pre AI - and has done for a few decades, but it ain't happening yet.

Unfortunately longevity has a side effect. It used to be that the body gave out long before the brain did. However thanks to the advances in medical science and less physically demanding work we seem to have gone past the tipping point where the brain is starting to give out before the body does. Hence the seeming rise in folks with dementia.

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24 minutes ago, P.K. said:

Unfortunately longevity has a side effect. It used to be that the body gave out long before the brain did. However thanks to the advances in medical science and less physically demanding work we seem to have gone past the tipping point where the brain is starting to give out before the body does. Hence the seeming rise in folks with dementia.

Yep. But, like cancer, dementia is primarily a biochemical ailment - which will become more preventable / avoidable / reversible, it's just a matter of time before scientists (with the help of AI) figure out the causes of these biochemical degradations so we can reduce the incidence of them. Putting it crudely, these degradations fall into two classes - fair wear & tear, and corrosion (damage due to "toxins").  Humanity will learn what the toxins are and how to manage them, this is the sort of problem that AI can be very good at solving, just needs a big enough dataset. 

I think there is a finite limit on natural biological life expectancy, but we're a way off it yet, plenty of scope for average human longevity to continue increasing.

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But do you want to live longer if you are not ageing slower?

We are just being old and almost dead for longer.  It's not like you can do much other than sit in a comfy chair and stare out a window. 

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What is AI? Is a knowledge based system a form of AI, or does it need the knowledge base searching algorithm to be modified by feedback to become AI? 

Then there are applications where adaptive control of machine tools will increasingly cross the line between just plain dumb and learning algorithms become more widely deployed.  That then opens the questions surrounding when sentience begins which then questions if AI systems even give a toss about the things that we care about and if they even need to in order to become self aware.

I could ramble on about this and nausea (yes, I meant that) because of having been project director on an Expert System that incorporated learning capabilities to establish a prototype neural network. It even worked (sometimes)! 

Will AI affect us?  Oh yes, it's already doing so. Will it change the way we live? Definitely, but just as computers and increased automation was going to increase leisure time but never did except by increasing unemployment and reduction in real earnings for the production line monkeys, so increasing penetration of AI is going to affect society, unfortunately not in a good way for Joe Public. It's not the cyborgs that will have the biggest effect, it's the embedded "intelligence" into everyday things that will have the greatest impact.  And weapons. 

To quote Albert Einstein,  " Great men have great ideas and insight.  Lesser men use them to make money. The least men make them explode"

To quote Brian Epstien,  "Mmm!  Seem like nice boys!"

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1 hour ago, Rog said:

What is AI? Is a knowledge based system a form of AI, or does it need the knowledge base searching algorithm to be modified by feedback to become AI? 

 Then there are applications where adaptive control of machine tools will increasingly cross the line between just plain dumb and learning algorithms become more widely deployed.  That then opens the questions surrounding when sentience begins which then questions if AI systems even give a toss about the things that we care about and if they even need to in order to become self aware.

I could ramble on about this and nausea (yes, I meant that) because of having been project director on an Expert System that incorporated learning capabilities to establish a prototype neural network. It even worked (sometimes)! 

Will AI affect us?  Oh yes, it's already doing so. Will it change the way we live? Definitely, but just as computers and increased automation was going to increase leisure time but never did except by increasing unemployment and reduction in real earnings for the production line monkeys, so increasing penetration of AI is going to affect society, unfortunately not in a good way for Joe Public. It's not the cyborgs that will have the biggest effect, it's the embedded "intelligence" into everyday things that will have the greatest impact.  And weapons. 

 To quote Albert Einstein,  " Great men have great ideas and insight.  Lesser men use them to make money. The least men make them explode"

To quote Brian Epstien,  "Mmm!  Seem like nice boys!"

I think it's fair to say that there is a big difference between Expert Systems (sum of human domain experience) and modern expectations of the term AI, the latter term largely being reserved for systems which achieve significant self-improvement via Machine Learning. We can (do) input a domain knowledgebase to get an AI primed / started, but it must then evolve its own imputed rules, which is clearly a step beyond Expert Systems where we have defined the rules (if not all the cases) up front.

Sorry, crude differentiation, but I too started playing with this stuff long ago, early 80's, developing Expert Systems / KBS when AI and Expert System were practically synonymous. Modern AI is far more powerful and set to make a step change with current development in quantum computing.

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, craggy_steve said:

I think it's fair to say that there is a big difference between Expert Systems (sum of human domain experience) and modern expectations of the term AI, the latter term largely being reserved for systems which achieve significant self-improvement via Machine Learning. We can (do) input a domain knowledgebase to get an AI primed / started, but it must then evolve its own imputed rules, which is clearly a step beyond Expert Systems where we have defined the rules (if not all the cases) up front.

Sorry, crude differentiation, but I too started playing with this stuff long ago, early 80's, developing Expert Systems / KBS when AI and Expert System were practically synonymous. Modern AI is far more powerful and set to make a step change with current development in quantum computing.

I'm so glad I retired 20 years ago!

 

Edited to add --- did you ever meet any of the luminaries in the emerging field? Well it was 30 years ago and in many parts the paint was still wet!

I was fortunate enough to attend a short series of talks given by Donald Michie at the Turing institute. An amazing mind that man had.   Nice guy too.

Edited by Rog
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1 hour ago, Rog said:

I'm so glad I retired 20 years ago!

 

Edited to add --- did you ever meet any of the luminaries in the emerging field? Well it was 30 years ago and in many parts the paint was still wet!

I was fortunate enough to attend a short series of talks given by Donald Michie at the Turing institute. An amazing mind that man had.   Nice guy too.

Donald Michie's contribution cannot be overstated, those were exciting times. I've been fortunate to meet a number of very bright folks from CompSci academia. 

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Well I'm still ploughing through the book and getting more confused than ever. The interaction with verbal and non-verbal communication fascinates me especially as my son in San Francisco is on the cutting edge of using and developing self learning communication systems, ( at least that is what I think he said). I skim around the edges to try and appreciate what he's doing and talking about but it really does get more difficult as time goes by.

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The sentience discussion is also so interesting and tied in with communication. A self learning, communicative, sentient system, (conscious?), without a human orientated moral code is worrying for the human race though? Maybe?

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