On AI

I wrote a couple of pretty long posts in reply to an article on Artificial Intelligence and though I would copy them here.

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In the 1500’s an educated man could read everything he found that had words on it, assuming he could read the language. In theory you could have read everything ever written.

500 years later, you can’t even read every road sign you pass.

35 years ago, in the UK, there were 3 channels on the TV & they turned off around midnight. You could watch everything, in theory.
There is now more than an hour of video uploaded *just to YouTube* every second. (& YouTube is only ten years old! )

No human can keep up with 500 people on a single social network. They didn’t even exist 15 years ago!

Yet today there are more than 500 social networks, some boasting well over a million users every day.

Today there are at least 3 AI systems you can simply speak a question to, in regular English, & get an answer. Last year there were none.

There is now a system that can be spoken to in a hundred languages, which will translate then speak for you in a chosen language. Last month, there wasn’t.

The rate of increase is mind breaking. As regards the “Singularity”? We are already living in it.

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“to self-driving cars to something in the future that might change the world dramatically.”
If you don’t think that self-driving cars will alter the world dramatically, then you’ve not been paying attention. For one thing, the hundreds of thousands of people who have the job(s) of simply moving our fuel, food, and pretty much anything else that comes by road will be out of a job in a fortnight. No more couriers or postmen, just a truck with a camera and a series of locking boxes.
In the UK the Royal Mail (the Post Office) employs 150,000 people, and the USPS another 601,000. There will be a seismic shift just from that, even without the hundreds of courier companies out there. Estimates are that 70% of stuff is moved by road in the USA. A self-driving truck is going to change that dramatically, because it will be far cheaper. But what are the displaced workers going to turn to?

You’ve ignored the argument of diminishing returns in your analysis. I’m not saying you are wrong – you aren’t, though you are already behind the curve – but even the world’s greatest intelligence won’t be able to ramp up production of a new chip facility to get a better chip in a few days. Also, there’s not much place to go – you can’t speed up the distribution of signals by much from where they are now, which is about half the speed of light – at light speed, you’d only halve it from 300ms to 150ms isn’t that big a deal when 200 years ago it was measured in months. Likewise chip fabrication scales can’t get dramatically smaller as they are already hitting limits of how much charge is on an electron, how long it takes the signal, and so on.

The biggest factor you are missing is that what I just said actually makes no difference though, not with what is actually happening. Your idea of people having $1000 human power brains sat on desks? It won’t happen. Not because of the dimishing returns, but because you don’t need the box to cost even $100. All you need is a basic computer with a WIFI connection and there you are – instantly connected to Siri, Google and Cortana. Once they are human brain capable, in their huge data centres buried in steel and concrete on the other side of the world, then your little RaspberryPi £30 computer is as smart as you are. And once all those brains start feeding data back, it’ll be just a few hours before things start to change.

And, let us not forget, mostly, it’ll be people installing the App on their phone. A billion phones all wired to a few brain stretchingly large, incredibly powerful systems, with two way comms.

And now for my big reveal…

We are already in the singularity. We just haven’t caught up with that fact yet.

Go immerse yourself in Twitter for a day. Follow 1000 people and try to just keep up with it. You can’t. Now consider that Twitter has over a million times more users than that, every day, posting multiple times. And then there’s Badu (China) and Google and Bing all listening to that chatter, and not just from Twitter, but from G+, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. Sina Weibo has hundreds of millions of users you’ve never interacted with! And the NSA and others are in on the act of trying to listen to and understand all that chatter.

Just the rate of increase of IT security flaws that come out is now too fast for a single person to realistically follow. Advances in robotics and AI are jumping ahead. No-one can follow the news feeds.

No, the world is now moving too fast to follow. We have entered the singularity. When exactly we will see a “True AI” emerge I don’t know. But when you can talk to a box across the room in a low voice whilst music plays from it, it understands your command, then reminds you of the event later that day, after decoding what you said, storing it then recalling it, via a constant connection to a server room 2000 miles away, well, that’s AI already.

As regards the IQ of an AI? That’s a bit like asking what does the sun taste like. For one thing, any question that has ever been asked has been, in general, answered a thousand times in a thousand ways. The AI can simply look up the answer to any test ever given in the last 20 years. It would simply score perfectly. It would, unlike me, take a split second to recall the Chinese Twitter as Weibo, and not resort to a spreadsheet to find that there are 1,000,000 people working in the FTSE 100 companies in areas that will be wiped out in a few days by an AI competitor – banking, finance, insurance and “fund management”.

Oh, and pop goes the call centre. One box that can talk like a human and solve basic issues by clicking a mouse on screen will replace one worker this week, but in another few weeks it will replace 2, then 4, and so on as the computing power available increases. And in whatever language the speaker chooses, too – as, indeed, Google have just launched. So knowing Farsi or Polish won’t keep you in your job. Indeed, the fact you are more expensive means that Google Translate will switch the speech into whatever the cheapest workers can understand, and back when they reply, and you’ll be gone first, a few weeks ahead of those lowest paid workers. Then, of course, out with the middle managers who used to run a call centre. 40 staff replaced by a (doubly redundant) single AI in a box with a good data connection, and, perhaps, one local admim. Until that admin is replaced by a remote admin watching a dozen boxes, and then he gets replaced by an AI that watches those boxes.

Of course, eventually people would stop calling. AI agents will do that part too, making and breaking appointments and, later, contracts, for the humans who still can afford such things. Then those will fall off too, as the mass market disappears – all those unemployed people can’t afford the fine products and services they used to get in. And then the whole system tears itself apart. Perhaps.

But before we find out whether we tear it down and start again, whether the AI decides it kills us all off starting with the masses the rulers want removed, before finishing the cull later, or whether the AIs save us from this fate, I can absolutely assure you that, if they were ever put in originally, the 3 laws will have been stripped out by at least one desperate oligarch or despot.

Interesting times, indeed.
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Comments below, please.

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