Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Random Thought: The Future of Artificial Intellligence - Is Skynet's Grandaddy What We Should Really Be Worried About?

I've had conversations with a number of people on this topic. What do I think of ever-improving AI, do I love it or fear it? Will it help humanity, or destroy us?

The Skynet reference in the title is specific to the Terminator universe, in which an AI becomes self-aware, then proceeds to exterminate the human race, going so far as to develop time travel in order to go back in time and eliminate its most troublesome foes before they become troublesome.

But it also tends to generically reference the idea - commonly used in Sci-Fi  - of an artificial intelligence which becomes sophisticated enough to think for itself, then determines that humans are the biggest threat to itself - or humanity, and then through various acts (or inactions) attempts to subjugate or exterminate humans. Terminator, The Matrix, I, Robot (The Movie), Eagle Eye... To name a few.

And this is a concept that worries many, including such "luminaries" as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak...

But here's a random thought... Is it really Skynet we have to worry about? Or is is his relatively dimwitted grandfather which will be our undoing?

Currently, AI behavior is cropping up in internet search and content delivery. It is a convenience, and a money saver, If you search for Grills, you will suddenly find ad's popping up for grills, if you show an interest in gardening, ads for garden supplies will follow you around. This benefits the suppliers of products by targeting their ad's to interested audiences, rather than spamming the whole world, which theoretically saves advertising dollars. It benefits the customers by showing them things they are actually looking for, in theory reducing the number of pointless cold calls, and potentially putting exciting new products they might actually need in front of them saving them time searching.

But what about the dark side of this?
"I think therefore I am."
"As a man soweth, so shall he reap,"

See. the down side to this targeted media. Is that we see more of less, and consequently less of more...

I purchased a few "Epic Score" albums from Amazon a while back. Now when I visit amazon, I am flooded with music titles from that same genre. Social media is using this AI as well. I watched a video by some guy named Mat Larson once, years ago, now his tinfoil hat is taking up a whole row in my you-tube feed.

So here's my theory, this relatively dumb AI is helpfully feeding us more of what we like, what it thinks we want to see, what we agree with...  and showing us less in the way of new information, new ideas, alternative viewpoints... making us more insular, more isolated, more narrow of view, more ... radical... until we self-destruct... leaving dim-net to starve to death long long before skynet is ever born.

So. what do you think? Is it bad form to make fun of someone for wearing tinfoil whilst donning tinfoil yourself?

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