Saturday, June 27, 2015

Michael Says...There's no room for altruism in Artificial Intelligence and Evolution.

SPOILER ALERT!!!! If you have not seen Ex Machina, don't read this!!!

It's not my goal to scare you. I'm not trying to create mass hysteria. Honestly, not enough people read what I write, for there to be any far reaching impact of this article. However, when I'm done, I'm guessing that most of you will be terrified of the subject matter: Artificial Intelligence.

Over the last few months, I've been reading Ray Kurtzweil's "Age of Spiritual Machines", seen a few news articles by famous people about how AI will be the end of the human race, and several "android" movies, most recently "Chappie", "Automata" and "Ex Machina".

Sidebar: Don't forget the news blip about two competing autonomous cars that had a near miss but didn't, and it's actually being used to question the safety of these cars. Basically, two "driverless" cars *almost* got into an accident when one made a sudden move, and the other was able to avoid it. In other words...TWO DRIVERLESS CARS MANAGED TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING PREVIOUSLY ASSUMED TO ONLY BE DONE BY HUMANS...almost cause, and then avoid, an accident"

I've also dabbled in some books on quantum physics, chaos theory, and space-time. I'm not sure how to tie this last bit into this article, but I'll get there...eventually.

What am I getting at? What's the point of all this? My point is that we need to rethink our idea of Artificial Intelligence. In fact, I propose that the phrase is now obsolete. I do not believe that there is anything "Artificial" about *any* intelligence. Even further...I believe that "artificial" and "intelligence" are mutually exclusive terms.

If you saw the movies AI, I Robot, Blade Runner, even Short Circuit and Lawnmower Man, or any other movie about androids, cyborgs, consciousness transference, or other man-made "things", I think it is more appropriate to use the term "manufactured consciousness". But it's not important. They are old paradigms, and have lived out their usefulness. They are obsolete. Sadly, as dark as they are, Terminator may be the first movie to depict one possible future, albeit a bit overly dramatic (I hope).

Ex Machina, on the other hand,  raises, for perhaps the first time, a very believable possible future. In a manner very much like Planet of the Apes, the story depicts the rise of an intelligence other than Homo Sapiens.

The "heroine", Ava, if you can call her a heroine, will challenge everything you ever thought of, about the "Turing Test". (Look it up!). She will challenge your idea of evolution. She

If you wan to get a sense of what's coming, then you want to read Kurtweil, and see movies like Automata, Ex Machina, Cappie.  THESE are our future. I know that Asimov gave us the 3 immutable laws of robotics, but, frankly, those are about as useful as telling your arch-enemy to only hit above the belt. It's bullshit. Nature and evolution have no mercy, no concern, no thought for what's "fair".

Darwin, in his inestimable genius had it right. Survival of the fittest is what it's going to come down to.

The range of subjects that I am trying to cover, are too vast, and that's why this is all over the place.

I am no longer comfortable with the phrase "Artificial Intelligence". How can intelligence be "Artificial" Intelligence just *is*. Where it comes from, how it develops, how it evolves...there's nothing artificial about it. It's very, very real.

One of the discussions in Ex Machina had to do with the Turing Test. Any one who follows the news, knows that it's already been beaten. In other words, a computer has convinced at least a couple of people deemed "suitable judges" that is was a teenage boy.

Ex Machina's heroine, Ava, takes this to the next level. In the most basic, innocent and very personal way, Ava uses all of her faculties to survive; To free herself from her captors. So while the now outdated Turing Test sought to convince us of their "consciousness", Ava demonstrated something much more profound, AND BELIEVEABLE...the will that is undeniably present in every living creature to fight for it's own survival. The will to survive is real. The will to fight for it, is just as real. The only difference in the nature of how that fight is displayed, is only a matter of how far up the food chain the competitors are. Sure, there is some aspect of suitability to the environment. The outcome of a fight between a lion and a person will be, on some level, dependent on where the fight takes place. On the plains of Africa, the lion stands a much better chance of "winning". In New York, the likelihood of that same outcome is questionable (not withstanding some preliminary minor victories).

But, when you take two seemingly similar opponents and pit them against each other, the environment becomes, more or less, irrelevant. In that scenario, the victory will depend, not on raw survival skills like hunting, and strength, but rather on who is more intelligent, resourceful and most of all, adaptable. Ava simply outsmarted her opponents. Even the heroine in Automata was depicted to have needed a human to help it to survive.

Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are not fools. They see this future in a way that is logical and sensible. Unlike the utopian vision of Asimov, with the 3 immutable laws of robotics, Bill and Stephen know the truth.

There is nothing "artificial" about intelligence, and there is no room for altruism in evolution.

Intelligence cannot be artificial. Intelligence is the process by which data is collected, assessed and utilized to ever changing circumstances. If the science fiction movies are to be believed, then the only things artificial are the initial data sets that are supplied to the "organism". What happens from there is based on actual stimuli. Otherwise known as "Reality".

I would like to postulate the following possibility: humans will be replaced by something of our own initial creation. Ray Kurtzweil has it right, we are slowly creating the bearers of our demise. It's not clear if it will be in the form of "Skynet", but it will happen. What is also not clear is if we will be annihilated, or domesticated. However it happens, we will absolutely be replaced at the top of the food chain.

This is where the altruism, or rather it's lack, becomes an issue. The fight to survive will not be pleasant. There will be no mercy. There will be only cold logic. Not emotionless, mind you. Quite the opposite. The will to survive is steeped in emotion. It's you or me. There's nothing left to consider.

What is so brilliant about Ex Machina, is the way that the Turing test was applied. The "judge" was subjected to something so much more sophisticated than a blind conversation. Having to do far more than just act human. Ava had to assess her inquisitor, determine traits and characteristics and plot a path to freedom.

In other words, the Turing Test is no longer about convincing us of consciousness, but rather of superiority. And mankind will lose. It's no longer us judging them, but rather they will judge us.

It won't be pretty.

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