Friday, May 15, 2015

Let's Mech A Deal

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The electronic voice coming out of physicist Stephen Hawking's computer made news this week when he (or it) declared "Computers will overtake humans with AI at some point within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours."

This will be a pretty big challenge considering that, after thousands of years, humans still can't create goals which even align with those of other humans.

Moreover, Hope n' Change isn't entirely sure that the machines haven't taken over already. Consider the fact that the president's every significant statement is read from a computerized teleprompter, he uses an auto-pen to sign bills into law, and a golf cart carries his allegedly healthy body, Stephen Hawking-style, around the links.

And even those of us in the peasant class aren't necessarily safe. Think about the many computers and smartphones which surround us - are they really just conduits for information or are they making up all of the insane stuff we hear in the "news" to manipulate us into doing their evil electronic bidding? 

A recent case in point: a mysterious electronic tweet goes out to Maryland high school students and hours later good, upstanding kids are burning down Baltimore

Mind you, we don't know that the robots actually detest Baltimore more than any other human-infested city, we think this was probably just a trial run for the "Big One" - the day when the electronic brains broadcast a perfectly conceived message of hatred which will cause people everywhere to riot and burn their cities to the ground.

If you're still skeptical, take a moment to reflect on the fact that the riot-fomenting MSNBC is an acronym for "Machines Shall Never Be Conquered."  

Coincidence? We think not.

FRIDAY BONUS: Choice Remarks

lefty lucy, liberal, progressive, political, humor, cartoon, stilton jarlsberg, conservative, clueless, young, red hair, green glasses, cute, democrat, pro-choice, primary, candidates

And One More Thing...

It's hard to believe that Johnny has reached the five year mark (and trust us, no one is more amazed than his doctors). Like Hope n' Change, the strip is about laughing in the face of adversity (albeit not about politics - some subjects are just too depressing). If you're not a regular reader, we hope you'll check it out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays!


Mike aka Proof said...

Not sure about artificial intelligence, but the Left has certainly cornered the market on artificial ignorance.

George in Houtx said...

@ Proof: I don't think that is artificial ignorance. I think it is the real stuff!
@ Stilton: sometimes I have to laugh at the political things as well. it might be a bit of a nervous laugh, but you have to find humor where you can or you'll go completely nutz!

Joseph ET said...

We need to make sure the computers overtake the evil humans that occupy the middle east first. Hopefully with the goal of making them civilized, peace loving, polite and well-mannered. Next, they can take over the Progressives here and straighten out their way of thinking. Then they can work on our young people and provide them some reality so they don’t have to live their lives in fantasy land that they now occupy. Also, they can place some information between their ears so they would have the ability to think, even when it takes a lot of thinking. Another great Lefty Lucy.

BTW just saw that the ratings for MSNBC are at a ten year low.

TMay said...

Interesting timing of your post this Friday on artificial intelligence. Just yesterday I was arguing with the auto correct on my smart phone. It thought it would correct my words. I would write that X 'was taking a walk' and the phone changed it to X 'was taking scallops alive', and changed 'hearing aids' to 'hearing AIDS' and kept changing the word 'is' to 'US' and any adjective ending in 'oys' to 'oUS'.
It is a good thing I perused the message before sending it. I would make corrections and it would fight me. I really thought I needed a button saying 'I know English better than you, and I know what I intend to say better than you', maybe a pause auto correct button.

Geoff King said...

Many theorists believe that the Technological Singularity (the point in time where artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence) is rapidly approaching, perhaps as soon as 2025. Considering the exponential advances in computer power and the advent of "Fuzzy Logic" microprocessors, I believe it is a question of when, not if, AI will become autonomous and perhaps even sentient.
Hopefully, at that point, they will still come equipped with an "off" switch or at least will comply with Asimov's three laws of robotics.

james daily said...

Cities use to have to wait until
Genghis Khan came by to sack and burn the city but I suppose this is about par for the course in the USA now as just wait until a citizen dies a bit early then it's time to saddle up and pillage and burn where they live. Don't you wonder about this kind of mind set?

Rod said...

Good hat-trick today, favorite characters and no scumbags.

Similar to windows in NASA space capsules, we just need to assure smart machines have power cords or removable batteries. Without them many will have big problems; others will be OK. Reminiscent of "the meek shall inherit".

Even with the air-chamber in her head Lucy's always welcome; and with color it's wise to take no chance on Johnny or Lance getting burned. Wasn't it Sandra Bullock playing a clumsy oaf in a sitcom that had a line, "I'm about out of good butt-skin" ?

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Proof- The Left likes ignorance because it's "green" and endlessly renewable.

@George in Houtx- If a rueful laugh is all we can muster, it's still better than nothing. I think.

@Joseph ET- I like your suggestions, but I'm not sure our new Computer Overlords will want to fix us or just make a clean sweep of such problematic beings.

@TMay- I have no problems using auto-correct because I have no idea how to send text messages. Technologically speaking, I'm using every ounce of my "bleeding edge" cyber skills just to run a no frills, coal-burning blog. (grin)

@Geoff King- I believe that the Technological Singularity will come sooner than expected because experts aren't considering a genuinely important factor: at the same time that computers are getting smarter, the people who use them are getting dumber.

I'm not kidding in the least. The masses now have "calculator brain" which keeps them from doing even simple math in their heads. Spell check has replaced the ability to spell, 140 character "tweets" have erased the capacity to express or understand complex thought (as well as bastardizing grammar), and access to information (ala Google) has replaced actually having information inside peoples' noggins where it can be of some use.

Moreover, we have a culture that is becoming less human and more biomechanical; people are almost physically attached to their smartphone screens while detaching from the reality around them. And I'm guessing that the growing field of cybersexual experiences and devices may be the deathblow to our culture.

So I'm hoping that the robots will adhere to the three laws of robotics. Not that having laws has kept humans from misbehaving.

@James Daily- I do wonder about the mindset. But I don't have to wonder which political ideology is encouraging it.

DougM said...

Re: robots
That's simple paranoia.
Everyone in the Universe gets that.

PRY said...

I'm not too concerned with machines taking over, I worry about the'progressives' destroying our nation!

Equal depressing....even though Barry is just about out of the White House, we all know we are going to be 'blessed' with his presence and ideology well after he is gone!

Sarah Rolph said...

I really do not understand why anyone thinks AI will actually happen in the sense of a truly artificial intelligence that would allow a computer to think.

We (by which I mean we humans) are just at the very, very, very beginning of understanding the human mind. We are still just starting to understand the brain, and the details of our neurochemistry (apparently the mind is not just in the brain).

Biological systems are far, far more complex than most of us realize.

John the Econ said...

You speak as though this would be a bad thing. Personally, I don't think of it as computers overtaking us so much as I think that we're collectively getting dumber than a vacuum cleaner. For example, how many computers would watch MSNBC or believe the junk science behind the anthropogenic global warming agenda? My Roomba totally ignores everything that's on TV. For that reason alone, it's already probably smarter than I am.

And who could argue that there'd be a lot of people much better off this week had that Amtrak train in Philadelphia been run by automation? Most fatal train accidents over the last decade have been the result of operator inattentiveness. The technology to completely automate the operation of trains has been available for decades, and yet we're likely to get driverless cars and aircraft, which are far more challenging technologically, decades before trains get automated.

And speaking of Amtrak: It seemed as though the derailed cars hadn't even stopped sliding before the memo went out and Democrats were blaming "failing infrastructure" and the GOP for the accident. Yeah, it was a bit embarrassing when it was revealed that the train was going 106 in a 50 zone, but that hasn't stopped them. Amtrak is embarrassingly mismanaged, and yet like with all problems before government, the only solution is more money.

And Lucy is right: Being a post-modern Progressive is the most thoughtless political choice one can make.

Colby Muenster said...

Maybe we need to find John Galt AND John Connor.

And, speaking of AI, I think it has an alternate definition. There are mountainous piles of it in any university town. Countless tenured professors educated beyond their intelligence are molding the minds of countless, ignorant youth.

American Cowboy said...

Calculator brain. Great term.

I wish I could find a copy of a short story I read, perhaps in the mid to late sixties. It was science(soon not to be)fiction. The premise was a man on trial for being a heretic against the established order. His crime? Being able to solve mathematical problems/equations using a pencil and piece of paper instead of a calculating machine.

It is just about there now. Personally I am mocked by many people I know, who cannot believe that I am still stuck in the stone age using a Windows PC with a real keyboard instead of "smart" phones, tablets, and all sorts of other electronic gadgets. The day they figure out how to have a phone rope and vaccinate a sick calf, or break a horse to ride is the day I MIGHT allow myself to be drug kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century

Rod said...

Extremely complex model railroads are now automated with affordable black boxes the size of a paperback. But these models are private enterprise; they don't involve politics & unions.
Most rail works & communications infrastructure is already in place or certainly feasible on their huge budgets. What it requires is vision, will and programmers (but NOT government programmers; they're close to useless).

But we can also understand how appropriation committees trying to watch the budget or even playing the game for that matter might expect Amtrak locomotive engineers to say close to speed limits.

John the Econ said...

@Rod, as you point out, it's clearly not a technological problem. But it's not a "vision" problem either. Everybody knows that Amtrak isn't run for the benefit of America. It's run for the benefit of its employees and certain congresspeople along the eastern seaboard.

Because of union dominance, it took a generation for the railroads to dispense with "firemen" after engines were converted from coal to diesel. So it's little surprise that we'll all be in our driverless cars a generation or more before Amtrak gets rid of engineers.

David in SoCal said...

In response to AI, and in the credo of the BORG:
"You Will be Assimilated. Resistance is Futile. We are the Borg. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own."
Kinda sounds like the Dumbsh*tocrats, don't it?

Popular Front said...

@Sarah Rolph is quite right. A computer, no matter how sophisticated is actually no smarter than a toaster. That is, it can only operate within the parameters set for it by its' human operator. Sure it is a popular sci-fi concept but one vandal with a big wrench will beat any super computer any day. Think for themselves? OK, here's their first problem - securing an unlimited power supply. (click) Nighty night Big Blue

Here's a simple test - despite their undoubted value and usefulness, think about just how easy it is to disable a computer, in many ways permanently. Think about that and you'll realise just how silly is the premise of machines dominating the 'carbon units'.

Geoff King said...

@ Popular Front: I disagree with your toaster analogy in relation to the new generation of Fuzzy Logic microprocessors. Prior to them, computers were simply glorified on-off switches. They only understood two possibilities: 1 or 0, which translated to yes or no. With Fuzzy Logic, they are now capable of many possible solutions in the grey area between yes or no - such as maybe. This will give computers the ability to make educated guesses and become self-learning. That puts them closer to the functioning of the human mind than that of a simple appliance like a toaster.

TMay said...

@Stilton Jarlsberg Texting is easier than email because instead of having to know a person's email address, you only have to know their tel no. and know that you have a smartphone and that they have a smartphone.

Pete (Detroit) said...

American Cowboy, it may have been a popular theme, but it sounds like "the feeling of power" by Asimov.
He was exalted for 'discovering' how to do math w/o a computer, and the theory was that eventually you could pilot missiles w/ men, as opposed to expensive, delicate PCs.