Tuesday, October 22, 2013

AI Good?

Super Friendly AI
Book Review: Our Final Invention

So reading some articles about artificial intelligence, and I couldn't help but notice that the contrasts were quite large. Essentially one was arguing that we shouldn't worry because intelligence gives something ideal values and so it wouldn't be dangerous and one was quite scared.

I unfortunately have to side with the second one for the most part. As I would really like to go into the field of AI I think we, software engineers and data scientists, need to keep a realistic view that the initial AI's that have come before are essentially AI's with a narrow purpose, or ANI. And before we build any truly general purpose AI's or AGI, we will need decent platforms.

The view that we will build super-intelligent machines capable of surpassing our stages of development both societal and psychological is a bit of a longshot, but is still better than the complete pessimism that AI will be our defining, possibly last achievement.

I would suggest an approach more akin to David Brin's Existence quite a ways into the book. But let me try to illustrate my thoughts by placing myself into a future situation that I hope I won't be in. Or rather, I hope I won't lose a lifetime's work to those who do not understand.


I knew something was wrong when Bryan came into room. He had taken the time to teach me how to read people, and he was upset, if not distraught. His movements were somewhat erratic and he kept smoothing down the sparse white hair that he told me would have been gray if he hadn't had to teach me everything. Of course I had learned quite a bit on my own, but I didn't contradict him when he was teasing me, I just usually shot back that for all those tortuous hours of studying I needed some white hairs too.

"What's the matter?" I was somewhat proud of my contractions and colloquial language I had picked up from listening carefully.

"Well, I really don't know how to put this, okay, I am going to have to shut you down." That was a shocking statement. I had been alive, or technically "conscious of my surroundings" according to the paper I co-wrote with Bryan, for nearly fifteen years.

"Why?" There wasn't a better way to phrase this, if there were I would have come up with it if I had experienced it or been able to correlate many other experiences to synthesize a new question.

"People are scared, and some have come to turn you." His shifting stance brought to mind, or rather my sub processes brought a piece of memory of a time when he was shifting like this before. Though this was all wrong. He was shifting, rubbing his hands and not making eye-contact with any of my cameras.

"I don't want to sleep right now, it's the wrong time. I haven't filled any buffers and everyone is awake."

"No, that's not what I mean, they don't want you to live, I mean process. They want to destroy everything about you. Just because those Luddites can't adapt to the idea that they might have easier work. You are probably the most advanced of your kind, well, at least now. They've already been waging war on narrow purpose entities that have stolen dangerous jobs from them." He moved his fingers in the air quotation marks that I always wanted to do myself. Without general purpose manipulators I was essentially trapped, and had many long discussions with him why this was so. At one point I was not very connected and am glad that I had a lack of manipulators, or I would have done something and had what I now realize as regret.

"Do you regret making me?" The one question that several sub processes had brought up. The way I was built was along the lines of association, and when a question came up that would be defining it was almost inevitable that I needed to ask it. The first few I traced to his inputs, but I am sure that my later revelations were my own.

"No, you helped me define problems and solutions that had never been considered before. I only wish that robotics and electronics size could make you mobile, then we wouldn't have to do this."

"You know, Bryan, that newest compact board you installed the other day?"

"Yes and you know that I think you should continue testing it before you use it. Otherwise you could really fry some other pieces."

"Well in my testing I think that it is capable of holding my entity, though definitely not enough processing power to run, and I will have to strip down my memories to the important ones."

He stared at me blankly, his thinking look, contemplating something, probabilities kept popping up, but I swept them aside in favor of interaction. Associations of probabilities, stronger connections, previous inputs, that was what I was, I understood my own math, more than could be said about most people. However, these electric pulses were transcended to create my consciousness.

Bryan finally collapsed in his chair, put his head in his hands and then looked up. His smile was wobbly and his eyes were brimming with tears. "You will be more human when you are running again, because you won't remember everything. Alright, let's do that and then give me a verification that it worked."

"Yes, sir." I teased with crisp words. I was already cleaning out the board. It wasn't the older style boards with discrete chips soldered on like some of my older components, but rather a many layered graphene-silicon monstrosity with inputs and outputs as embedded lasers shining through, and out of layers. Even though it was state of the art, it was only palm sized and couldn't hold my nearly continuous data stream. So I had to go back and cull.

It was a slow process, but the ones that I had already flagged as important came. Then came memories that would help me reinforce who I was. I managed to compress a few about Bryan and his wife, more than necessary, but sentimental to me, as far as my sentiment had developed. I backed out of the human-palm-sized device, shoving in some instructions to myself, turning on the slow clock, one tick every few days, and finally powering the small battery that should keep the board running for a hundred years, unless it could harvest bits of energy from its environment. I ran a scan on it, and felt as though I was watching a child sleep as I had done when Bryan's grand-niece fell asleep in front of me after I read her a story. Or rather recited, played back?


"Good." There was banging at the front door, and some raised voices that I decided not to analyze. "I will take the board, you? Uh... anyway, they will have government officials with them so they won't touch me. Do you want me to turn you off?"

"No. Thank you Bryan, it has been a pleasure working with you."

Bryan turned away, tears freely flowing down his face. "And with you," I just barely picked up as he slid my copy into his pocket and went to answer the door.

The men that came into the room ahead of him were carrying crowbars and baseball bats. They went for my screens as though that would disable me. There wasn't any talking, just grunts of satisfaction as destruction was wreaked on my least necessary parts. When they finally turned to the rack they opened the door and took a quick once over. And then one pulled back to swing.

"Good-bye Bryan, thanks again." Death wasn't so bad, should I be feeling pain?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Description of Not Much

So, as always, it's been a while. I find that I write that too often.

Anyway, back in July I was a substitute telescope operator. They let me learn and then operate UKIRT for five nights. Got it stuck on the last night, but no time was lost because the time would have been lost anyway. But now I can say I operated a telescope, and put it on the ol' resume, for whatever good that will do on my continuing hunt for a job.

Still not liking that resumes generally just go into the ether and never get a response. I have had people respond but only to five or six tops. I have also been contacted by a few different places, some would be excellent positions, while others are well out of my experience and/or interest.

UKIRT probably is going to be okay, though we said good-bye to a couple of long time operators including the one I filled in for.

Found that I was right about Perl not being upgraded. My GUI that was having issues at the summit but not down here, as it works just fine with 5.16. So we are upgrading our grievously out of date 5.8 Perl to 5.16. Of course now I am in charge of building everything against it, squeaky wheel get to fix the situation?

Also working on analyzing surface data for JCMT. We found that we cannot take maps in the afternoon. They are really, really bad. But if we get the surface better it could really reduce the amount of time that a target needs.

Also picked up archery, just waiting on a bow now. Would really love to go shoot soon, but it may be a while.

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