Thursday, April 22, 2021

How will AI be used in the next decade?

 Will AI mostly be used in ethical or questionable ways? 

Isaac Asimov in his Robots Series conceived a future when ethical matters would be foremost in the minds of designers of AI brains... not for reasons of judiciousness, but in order to quell the fears of an anxious public. His Three Laws of Robotics broke many molds that had constrained SF speculation about synthetic minds, at the time. But that scenario never happened. No such desperate anxiety about AI seems to surge across today's populace, perhaps because we are seeing our AI advances mostly on screens and such, not in clanking mechanical men. Not yet, at least.


(I can safely argue that I'm one of the world experts on those Asimovian laws, and the Foundation/Robots universe. Before disagreeing, have a gander at "Foundation's Triumph.")


Oh, there are serious conferences on this topic - how to ensure these new beings will be benign. I've participated in many. 

Alas, most such conferences appear to be as impractical and clueless  as Asimovian "laws" seem, in retrospect. Unctuous statements urging ethical consideration in AI development are at best palliatives, meant to give designers an out. An alibi. 

I am often an outlier, proposing that "ethical behavior" in AI be promoted the way it is in most humans, especially most males... the only way it has ever been achieved... via accountability. See my article: How Might Artificial Intelligence Come About?

HOW do you 'hold accountable'. beings who are fated to outstrip their makers, in speed and power and possibly conscious intellect? By making accountability reciprocal.

If AIs are many and diverse and reciprocally competitive, then it will be in their interest to keep an eye on each other and report bad things, because doing so will be to their advantage. 

It is only the EXACT method we have used in recent centuries to save ourselves from other predatory beings... kings, lords, barbarians and all that. I go into it - in detail - elsewhere. But at-root it is a simple recourse, alas seldom even discussed.


 Will quantum computing advance greatly by 2030 and possibly enhance AI empathy or ethics?


Quantum computing has genuine potential. Roger Penrose, author of The Emperor's New Mind (just last month awarded the Nobel Prize) and associates believe it already takes place, in trillions of sub-cellular units inside human neurons. If so, it may take a while to build quantum computers on that kind of scale.


The ethical matter is interesting, though totally science fictional... that quantum computers might connect in ways that promote reciprocal understanding and empathy. 


== Artificial Intelligence language ==


Shannon Vallor, a professor of the ethics of data and artificial intelligence at the University of Edinburgh, in Noema Magazine,  evaluates the most advanced AI-powered language-generation program to date, GPT-3, that produced, when prompted, an essay on consciousness. “The instantaneous improvisation of its essay wasn’t anchored to a world at all,” she observes.  Oh, sure, at one level that’s obvious and at another seems predictably grouchy. 


I’ve been consulting and speaking a lot about AI lately, and frankly, I doubt we’ll have a clear idea when such real-world anchoring has occurred, or autonomous consciousness.


Still, she makes a strong point about how many humans fail the same kind of reality-anchoring test that she would apply to AI. “Extremist communities, especially in the social media era, bear a disturbing resemblance to what you might expect from a conversation held among similarly trained GPT-3s,” she says. “A growing tide of cognitive distortion, rote repetition, incoherence and inability to parse facts and fantasies within the thoughts expressed in the extremist online landscape signals a dangerous contraction of understanding, one that leaves its users increasingly unable to explore, share and build an understanding of the real world with anyone outside of their online haven.”


== Solving crises ==


Unfrozen Lands: The climate crisis threatens much of the Earth with droughts, flooding and brutal heat. But it could also create unparalleled opportunity for a few countries — perhaps none more than Russia Put aside the fact that the new farmlands will remain crappy, with poor topsoil for millennia… and that there’s only one growing season, while climate change destroys other zones on the planet that had two.  From Moscow’s perspective, this is all good!  Including the 12 new bases they are building to control the melted Arctic, causing deep concern among our Naval folk.  Oh, and new circulation patterns bring winter ice storms over the US Midwest, further encouraging our idiots to shout “What ‘warming’?” Putin can’t stop winning.


More than 3,000 years ago, a couple at the biblical site of Bethsaida, in Israel, was buried side by side in a spooning position, with the male's arm over the female's body, and the archaeologists who discovered the remains are now calling the couple "Romeo and Juliet." Especially since the male died in his late teens and the female in her early teen or preteen years.


Fascinating ruminations on what attributes a Black Hole might have if it were a useful source of power. Interesting indeed. Raising the question of whether a micro black hole can interact with its surroundings via anything other than simple mass, charge, spin and Hawking Radiation. Pairs of black holes orbiting each other will leak Gravity Radiation (GR). But what happens when that GR encounters another orbiting pair? Is it simply absorbed, increasing the 2nd pair's orbit? (And might that make a good GR detector?) 


Or are more complex effects possible? Like diffraction of the incident GR or possibly even reflection, back at the source? And if so... you might get the scenario I depicted in EARTH, where a pool of elevated gravity potential tat lies between the two orbiting pairs might experience STIMULATED EMISSION OF GRAVITY RADIATION between the two "mirrors." Creating in effect a GRASER or the GASER gravity laser I portrayed in that novel.


Wish I had time to dive deeper. Interesting stuff.


And we will face new crises... IExistence it's the law in 2050 that males must pee, if possible, into a garden or into a Phos Urinal to recover valuable phosphorus (possibly our next big crisis?) Or at least onto a tree.


== Out of Time adventures ==  


Suppose your descendants – people of the future – reach back in time to ask for your help. Would you go?  24th Century humanity has created a Utopia. No more War. Disease. Prejudice. Crime. But no heroes! And suddenly they need heroes, fast. So they reach out across time… for you. 


Would you go?

And what if only teens can survive the trip?


In the first Out of Time novel, Nebula Award winning author Nancy Kress takes you on an adventure, with a 10th Century Viking girl, a New Jersey high school basketball star and a young thief from Shakespeare’s London who are yanked into a future of both promise and peril and asked achieve what adults of that time cannot… rescue a lost star-colony. But even if they succeed, will they ever make it back home? 


38 comments:

Paul451 said...

"Will AI mostly be used in ethical or questionable ways? "

Yes.

scidata said...

Had a bit of a vax reaction - felt like SNL's Weed Gummy skit. We're battling here in Toronto. Was also worried about my Maple Leafs, but I seem to have got them sorted again. Dr. Brin has this AI thing pretty much grokked, but continues to orbit ethics, (male) accountability, and empathy. The word he's searching for is syntonicity. If he ever met Seymour Papert, I'd love to hear any stories.

It's a venerable trick to yank a familiar character from one time into a completely different one. Jeanne d'Arc and Voltaire in FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH come to mind (virtually). Hemingway, who was a staff writer at the Toronto Star in the early 1920s, once said that modern American literature all sprouted from Mark Twain's Huck Finn. Perhaps American Alternate History & SF sprouted from A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. It used humour to advocate for science. Sounds familiar.

Lorraine said...

I've always thought of the possibility of AI as either utopian or dystopian depending on whether the first successful implementation is open or closed source, respectively. I think the probability of the former outcome is vanishingly small, so my only hope is that the very idea of AI turns out to be snake oil and hype. Certainly the "artificial artificial intelligence" is always behind some curtain, so far. How much free labor have I alone provided to the "autonomous" vehicle industry just solving captcha®s? It reminds me of the third quadrant (if I remember the schema correctly) in your transparency book, where individuals' ability to obtain information about institutions is massively outclassed by the latter's ability to observe the former.

Tim H. said...

RE: phosphorus recovery, no problem, when you see a toddler peeing in the yard, rather than ordering them into the bathroom just call out "Honey, the garden needs that!". A moveable curtain might be in order so everyone can contribute.

matthew said...

What percentage of social media "engagement" is already various language AIs testing their capabilities against a human audience and each other? I would be willing to bet $$$ that the percentage is non-zero, and bet $ that it is large enough to not be a rounding error of total traffic.

Speaking of betting, my definition of $$$ is much different than our host's definition of $$$, in terms of what I can risk on a bet to prove a point.
After a few weeks reflection since this was last germane here, but my basic disagreement with Dr. Brin's "wager challenge" comes down to available cash to prove a point. When $10k must be risked before a challenge is deemed valid and worthy of time, 99% of Americans (and 99.9% of world population) are mooted out of the conversation. Dr. Brin's stated rule ($10k in escrow before a challenge is deemed worthy) result in a lot of "punching down" in that anyone without the Doc's $$$ is automatically not able to challenge an idea.
Not sure how to fix the problem, as I understand the need a high barrier to keep out the non-serious and not waste valuable time, but I think this does have a large distortion effect.
This is not our host's intent, I believe, but it still feels like only the rich get to criticize if wagers are the mechanism. Plus, the optics can easily be purposefully misconstrued and used as a counter-weapon in painting the one that offers the wager as an elite silencing their foes via $$$ bullying.
There has got to be a better mechanism, but I haven't figured it out yet, either.

David Brin said...

Matthew raises two points:
1)I won't bet over whether there are algorithm systems interfacing with us almost daily in surreptitious modes, because I firmly believe it is happening.

2) Wager demands can indeed fail due to bad optics. Romney-Perry in 2016 did look like a rich man bullying, even though Perry could trivially afford a $10,000 bet. The damage done that day, to the very idea of demanding wagers, makes me suspicious it was intentional.

Strangtely though, almost none of the MAGAs etc whom I have challenged with wager demands has ever accused me of rich-man bullying. Perhaps because they flee too qickly to even think of it. Or because my standard challenge includes the phrase "onc you have escrowed stakes, we can negotiate terms."

Example, If I ever had even one minute on Fox I'd say "Tucker, you were born vastly richer than I'll ever be, so you can afford stakes. How about 10% of the value of my home versus your third or fourth house? Sure, I'd win a lot more cash especially in proportion, but my personal risk exposure is vastly greater too. I'm willing to go the donation to charity route! But I personally want the satisfaction of spending half of what I'm going to win from you."

Duncan Ocel said...

Even a shruggable $100 loss still puts material to the words; I view a more important part of the wager to be that now the two parties must get to the facts of the matter. Putting up the money just forces the interlocutor to take a look at irrefutable fact. Then it doesn't matter the amount; for money to change hands there must be a concession, and concession of an argument or at least a single point is the end goal.

David Brin said...

Duncan exactly. Just agreeing to set up an adjudication panel of fact-centered retired senior US military officers sends these guys into a blind panic, no matter how trivial the stakes.

matthew said...

I like the "personal risk exposure" metric. It makes good sense as does the escrow-->terms wrinkle. Two good additions to the idea.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Dr. Brin, I'm afraid that the need for "an adjudication panel of fact-centered retired senior US military officers" is beyond most people's means. Like a $10k bet to weed out the frivolous, I don't know a lot of mutually acceptable judges willing to hold the money and tender a verdict between myself and a know-nothing ding-dong. Without that, nailing down an acceptable wager and terms becomes an exercise in frustration.

I recently watched a documentary mini-series about QAnon, who started it, why, and the long, strange trip it took us on. The primary instigators were all so coy about taking any responsibility for what QAnon did that wager or no, I would despair of getting them to affirm any salient point. Trying to get a QAnon follower to agree to any logical contract would be like trying to nail Jello to a tree.

Paul451 said...

I believe David's $10k is intended for paid pundits and the like. People who influence other people.

For individual bets, your Fox-news-repeating/Facebook-reposting uncle, even a one dollar bet is enough. It's not the financial pain (on the contrary, which I'll expand upon in the next para,) it's getting them to: a) Agree on the very idea of facts as a measure of reality, b) agree on the very idea of non-partisan sources, and c) to step out of their RW bubble and genuinely look at the issue in question.

The reason financial pain can't be a part of it is because it makes it too easy for the other party to believe you somehow tricked them. That gives them an easy way to rationalise away the outcome of the bet (the information they learnt) and return to the bubble with even stronger convictions.

If you noticeably benefited, your motivations can be deemed financial, and therefore why wouldn't you have some way to win by trickery. (There's a big part of the RW cult belief that everything on the "other side" is about tricks and schemes and what they are doing is just "their side" balancing the ledger.)

By making the bet merely a token of pride, rather than serious money, you have no financial motivation in tricking them. They'll still try to rationalise it (you got "lucky", or "okay, that one, but what about...") but it gets harder. Especially since, with no real stakes except pride, you can repeat the wagers for the "what abouts".

Paul451 said...

That said, if I'm wrong and David did mean, "Bet $10k, even with your barely employed relatives," then my last comment can be instead read as, "I completely disagree, because..."

Robert said...

matthew: Dr. Brin's stated rule ($10k in escrow before a challenge is deemed worthy) result in a lot of "punching down" in that anyone without the Doc's $$$ is automatically not able to challenge an idea.
Not sure how to fix the problem, as I understand the need a high barrier to keep out the non-serious and not waste valuable time, but I think this does have a large distortion effect.


In Finland, apparently things like traffic fines are scaled to income rather than being absolute amounts.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/03/finland-home-of-the-103000-speeding-ticket/387484/

So possibly the bets could scale like that? To make it work you'd need things like publicly-accessible tax returns (which is another Scandinavian idea worth considering*).

It could be gamed, of course, but most systems can be gamed.


*Dr. Brin would like it. In Norway anyone can look at anyone else's tax return. But their accessing it is also a matter of public record, so there's transparency in both the tax returns and who's interested in them.

Larry Hart said...

Paul451:

There's a big part of the RW cult belief that everything on the "other side" is about tricks and schemes and what they are doing is just "their side" balancing the ledger.


True dat. It's why they think FOX News is "fair and balanced". Because the rest of the news media is leftist, so FOX "balances" them out.

The meme repeats itself in so many ways:

+ Democrats win by massive voter fraud (even by Republican secretaries of state--dang, they're good!). Voter suppression is just a way of preventing the fraud.

+ Democrats want to institute socialist totalitarianism. Making sure that Democrats can't win elections is just a way of protecting our way of life.

+ "Liberals want you to think just like they do. Conservatives only want you to think"

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Dr. Brin would like it. In Norway anyone can look at anyone else's tax return. But their accessing it is also a matter of public record, so there's transparency in both the tax returns and who's interested in them.


That was actually discussed here some months back, and it is a very good living example of the principles Dr Brin espouses in The Transparent Society. Supposedly, there used to be a "tax porn" problem of people snooping into each other's tax returns for fun. That problem was solved by making the snoopee aware of who the snoopers were.

Robert said...

Trying to get a QAnon follower to agree to any logical contract would be like trying to nail Jello to a tree.

Nailing Jello to a tree is easy. Just freeze the jello solid before you nail it.

Possibly this technique would also work with QAnon followers? It's worth trying, anyway. :-)

Pappenheimer said...

The AIs in Iain Bank's Culture seem to have acquired something I've only found in 1 other SF AI (Mycroft/Michelle Holmes from the Moon is a Harsh Mistress) - a sense of humor. This may be a prerequisite for dealing with humans without deciding to kill us all.

Daniel Duffy said...

It's a little hard to win a bet with someone who does not accept factually reality.

Daniel Duffy said...

Jean Paul Sartre's comment on anti-Semites applies equally to the people you are betting with:

“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”

So why bother?

David Brin said...

Fascinating Sartre quote. And hence my proposal for methods of shaming blatant playground cheating. And wagers work better than any other. A wager demand is concise. You are refusing to be drawn in for their entertainment unless they show the balls to step up with cash.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Nailing Jello to a tree is easy. Just freeze the jello solid before you nail it.


Nah, I think the jello would crack and splinter instead.


Possibly this technique would also work with QAnon followers? It's worth trying, anyway. :-)


That works my way too. :)

scidata said...

Nazis are strident and violent in mobs. But isolated, and they quickly become shivering, confused, panicked cowards. I don't see this exact parallel in other extreme personalities. Some might even take comfort in solitude (eg Solaria-types).

If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company.
- Sartre


BTW I really wish there was a better name for our northern vaccine admin than the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). I cringe whenever I hear it pronounced.

Robert said...

Nah, I think the jello would crack and splinter instead.

Didn't when we did it at uni, decades ago.

Maybe modern jello, like modern Republicans, is more fragile and prone to cracking?

Slim Moldie said...

Wagers don't have to be financial. Recently a friend relayed a story about a Qanon believer (in a sport community) who had been talking a lot of Q-smack and made several under $200 bets and contracts to engage in acts of public humiliation. When called upon to settle, (after Biden wasn't arrested and Trump didn't end up back in office etc by x date) the guy tried to postpone--which he'd already done, and when the other parties insisted he settle up--the guy grabbed his gear bag, stomped off the court and went home. Just don't say he welched...

For your Foxite personalities, money doesn't matter. Humiliation is way more sexy. Wearing a logo-visible BLM tee shirt on air all week. Imagine the host spending a 3 minute segment of every show dancing on camera to hip hop music of your choice next to someone who can actually dance. Or make the terms for them to permit an expert of your choice to rebutt on air for a certain number of minutes. Or an Inspector Clouseau "Kato" laser tag game, where the host carries a holstered and concealed manwood laser pistol, and at any time during a week's worth live recording of the show, a martial arts expert of your choice wearing laser tag sensors can--with full access to the set--hide and pop out, attempt to sneak or storm onto the set, and then bodily disarm, floor and restrain the host without warning.

On AI, the common thematic thread I get reading Asimov (we have to include Triumph), and Vinge, and Dan Simmons is the connection or ambition on the part of the AI to transcend into a divinity and assume some sort of responsibility over humanity. All have factions within their AI communities...concerns over parasitic vs symbiotic relationships with humans. My humble postulate is that if a singularity event occurred, the new powers would quickly get bored with events here and go exploring...or perform experiments.

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

BTW I really wish there was a better name for our northern vaccine admin than the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). I cringe whenever I hear it pronounced.


They should turn it around. Call it the Immunization Committee (for) Advising (the) Nation.
I-CAN.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"Nah, I think the jello would crack and splinter instead.

Didn't when we did it at uni, decades ago.


Wait, you actually nailed frozen jello to a tree?

I'm very curious about the context around that stunt. Was it a "Hold my beer and watch this" kind of thing?

TheMadLibrarian said...

*pulls bag of popcorn out of the microwave* Who knew that a chance use of simile could get so intense? :D

To paraphrase Michael Shermer, if there aren't any conditions under which you will concede your belief is wrong, it's not a belief, it's a cult. Or maybe it was the Amazing Randi.

Robert said...

Larry, given it was an engineering college beer was involved. Was a 2x4 not a tree. Nails might have been heated or drilled rather than just cold-hammered. Was probably very cold like -30 to -20, given the location. It was nearly four decades ago and memory is dim. (And, beer.)

FMK said...

Scidata,

Somehow I didn't notice the NACI thing. Now I can't unhear it. Come to think of it, even PHAC sounds funny.

David Brin said...

There are times when you just go to Snopes. But criminy, the TIMING has a stench to it. And the orders were issued by Trumpists, in the very last minutes of the Trump-treason era.

https://t.co/51UikbNU8r?amp=1

Alfred Differ said...

I would expect frozen Jello still to be somewhat elastic... unless LN2 was involved. Maybe then.

(Time for a beer)


As for Vinge's AI's, I was under the impression that most of them got bored with experimenting on us pretty quick. 'Old One' had an odd quirk, but mostly harmless. That other one wasn't experimenting.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

It was nearly four decades ago and memory is dim. (And, beer.)


I wasn't asking so much about the details of the hammering, but rather what made that seem like something that should be done.

Jon S. said...

"The AIs in Iain Bank's Culture seem to have acquired something I've only found in 1 other SF AI (Mycroft/Michelle Holmes from the Moon is a Harsh Mistress) - a sense of humor. This may be a prerequisite for dealing with humans without deciding to kill us all."

HARLIE, from David Gerrold's "When HARLIE Was One", had a sense of humor. Admittedly, it was at times a rather juvenile sense of humor - it once produced this poem:

IBM
UBM
We all BM
For IBM

...but still, it's a sense of humor.

Also, Howard Tayler's webcomic Schlock Mercenary has several AIs with a sense of humor, particularly Adjutant Ennesby, formerly the holoprojector for the fake boy band New Sync Boys, who is given to horrible puns. Of course, the webcomic is supposed to be funny, even when it dips into seriousness (like the origin of Sgt. Schlock, or the Teraport Wars), so there's that.

TCB said...

Fun fact: jello and carpenter's hide glue are the SAME STUFF. Hide glue just has a lot less water mixed in.

So: to nail jello to a tree, heat it in a pan to over 170 degrees F but less than boiling, until much of the water has left it and it's thickened. Pour onto wax paper and let it cool until you can peel it off but before it has really hardened to brittleness. Go get the hammer.

Robert said...

I wasn't asking so much about the details of the hammering, but rather what made that seem like something that should be done.

Proving someone wrong, of course. Someone on campus used the phrase as a synonym for "impossible" and the engineering students set out to prove to the arts students that it was not only possible, but pretty easy if you thought about it.

According to Angela Melick the somewhat disdainful attitude engineering students have to 'artsies' seems to be the same a generation later:
http://www.wastedtalent.ca/comic/massacre

Robert said...

IBM
UBM
We all BM
For IBM


First heard that from an IBM engineer, when I was interviewing for a job at IBM…

(Was also warned not to let management hear it…)

scidata said...

Reading the Toike Oike before class in the physics building. Seems like a thousand years ago.

David Brin said...

onward

onward