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Elon Musk’s nightmare is way overblown: AI isn’t the demon, people are

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The real world’s closest thing to Tony Stark told the National Governors Association that artificial intelligence (AI) is “summoning the demon.” The Hill reported Elon Musk’s remarks:

“With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like — yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out,” said Musk.

This kind of fear-mongering summons up images of Skynet, or The Matrix, where self-aware machines decide (on their own) to put the muzzle on humans and take away our bite. But the real issue is much more mundane, and it’s related to people, not machines.

A fascinating interview with computer scientist and author Jaron Lanier unpacks the issue in painstaking detail. Lanier’s main point is that American law recognizes corporations as “persons,” capable of executing agency (legal, even moral) that’s typically reserved for individual human beings.

He calls AI “fake” in the sense that, the scary language is constructed as “a layer of religious thinking” of technology removing actual human agency and replacing it with algorithms.

I’ll quote a little bit from it.

Since our economy has shifted to what I call a surveillance economy, but let’s say an economy where algorithms guide people a lot, we have this very odd situation where you have these algorithms that rely on big data in order to figure out who you should date, who you should sleep with, what music you should listen to, what books you should read, and on and on and on. And people often accept that because there’s no empirical alternative to compare it to, there’s no baseline. It’s bad personal science. It’s bad self-understanding.

In other words: big data is based on watching people make choices, and using that data to suggest future choices. It allows Amazon, for instance, to be efficient in they steer consumers to buy items they have in immediate stock by completing your search bar request, then they stock the items bought most. It allows Netflix to be efficient by running with an incredibly small sample of available content (compared to, say, iTunes), but using suggestions to steer watching habits.

The one thing I want to say about this is I’m not blaming Netflix for doing anything bad, because the whole point of Netflix is to deliver theatrical illusions to you, so this is just another layer of theatrical illusion—more power to them. That’s them being a good presenter. What’s a theater without a barker on the street? That’s what it is, and that’s fine. But it does contribute, at a macro level, to this overall atmosphere of accepting the algorithms as doing a lot more than they do. In the case of Netflix, the recommendation engine is serving to distract you from the fact that there’s not much choice anyway.

When you translate these algorithms into more serious real world decisions, they do tend to skew themselves into bias, and maybe that is the problem Musk is worried so much about.

An algorithm that predicts baseball outcomes (there is a whole field on this called Sabermetrics) might suggest the game would be better with a pitch clock, because fans complain that games are too long and getting longer. Sabermetrics is, ironically, responsible in part for the games being longer. But the algorithm doesn’t always account for fans inner preferences: Baseball is an institution that resists change. That’s part of the charm and attraction of the game.

When the pitch clock is implemented, this will surrender some of our human agency to a computer. Like calling balls and strikes, or fair and foul balls, or tennis balls in or out, or touchdowns in the end zone or out of bounds. Measurement and agency can be human things with AI helpers, or they can be AI things with human participants.

Moving even deeper into the “real world” is something Elon Musk knows much about: Self-driving cars. If automobile algorithms can effectively drive (as Google’s can) as well as, or better than, humans, what will happen when an algorithm avoids an accident with a human driver, causing the human driver to hit another driver with injuries or death as the outcome? Is the algorithm responsible for making moral choices of avoiding a baby carriage to hit a bike?

These are human questions, and they do tend to slow down the pace of adoption.

When AI diagnoses illnesses or prioritizes care, certainly hospitals and doctors can feel better about using time and resources more efficiently, but then the biases of those doctors’ choices can be amplified into “bad algorithms” that are not legitimate in the sense of working toward meaningful truth. As Lanier wrote:

In other words, the only way for such a system to be legitimate would be for it to have an observatory that could observe in peace, not being sullied by its own recommendations. Otherwise, it simply turns into a system that measures which manipulations work, as opposed to which ones don’t work, which is very different from a virginal and empirically careful system that’s trying to tell what recommendations would work had it not intervened. That’s a pretty clear thing. What’s not clear is where the boundary is.

Where reality gets closer to Musk’s nightmare is a scenario (a thought experiment) Lanier describes. Let’s say someone comes up with a way to 3-D print a little assassination drone that can buzz around and kill somebody: a cheap, easy to make assassin.

I’m going to give you two scenarios. In one scenario, there’s suddenly a bunch of these, and some disaffected teenagers, or terrorists, or whoever start making a bunch of them, and they go out and start killing people randomly. There’s so many of them that it’s hard to find all of them to shut it down, and there keep on being more and more of them. That’s one scenario; it’s a pretty ugly scenario.

There’s another one where there’s so-called artificial intelligence, some kind of big data scheme, that’s doing exactly the same thing, that is self-directed and taking over 3-D printers, and sending these things off to kill people. The question is, does it make any difference which it is?

Musk, like many technologists with little policy experience, conflates the fact that someone could make this kind of killer tech with the policy issues of making cheap killer drones. Lanier spends a few thousand words delving into the topic (which I won’t do, for the reader’s sake–I’m already way long here).

The key is using smart policy to prevent the end result without throwing away the benefits of AI. It’s the same as baseball, or self-driving cars, or counterfeiting currency. Scanners and color copiers have long had the resolution to produce fairly good counterfeit currency. But legitimate manufacturers have complied with laws that kill attempts to actually do it. Try copying a $20 bill on your scanner.

There’s no reason that certain rules can’t be applied to 3-D printers, or other devices that “make” things in the real world. Or to medical software, or–as a hot-button issue–using AI to recommend sentences and parole for convicted criminals.

Lawmakers and politicians need to be aware of these real issues, and the limitations of AI in replacing human agency. These are the actual problems we face, versus the dystopian Everybody Dies™ apocalyptic warnings by people like Musk.

If Google and Netflix are corporate persons, which in turn own AI algorithms based on human choices, imbued with the power to suggest future choices, that does not foreshadow the end of the world. But it does raise some serious issues. Most of these will take care of themselves (people have a tendency to change faster than algorithms can predict, leading to disappointment with the algorithms).

It’s the legal, human, and social issues raised by AI we need to focus on. In the end, people, not machines, are the demons we summon.

Serial entrepreneur. Faith, family, federal republic. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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Democrats

Forget lowering unemployment, Bernie Sanders will eliminate it!

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During his 2016 Democrat primary campaign, Bernie Sanders was “absolutely sympathetic” to the idea of a universal basic income; however, he felt that his plans for a $15/hr. minimum wage, expanding Social Security to pay for guaranteed healthcare, and providing free college would do more than creating just another government handout.

But now Bernie has apparently found a way to accomplish his goals as well as the goals of the universal basic income crowd.
Yesterday, we learned that the self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist is ready to announce a plan that will guarantee every American “who wants or needs one” a lifetime government job paying at least $15/hr. and proving paid family and medical leave plus retirement, health, and vacation benefits.

While the details are still being worked on, Bernie has admitted that he currently has no idea exactly how much his plan will cost or where the money to pay for it will come from. However, if his 2016 campaign is any indication, the cost will be irrelevant, and the money to pay for it will come from “the billionaires and oligarchs” he refers to as the “top one percent of income earners.”

While it would be tempting to shrug off Bernie’s plan as the rantings of a socialist loon living to the left of the left-wing, we should remember how his Marxist beliefs concerning income inequality caught fire with a generation of Constitutionally ignorant voters raised on the socialist ideology taught in today’s public schools indoctrination centers.

And a poll conducted during the 2016 primary season showed that a majority of millennials rejected capitalism.

Democrats would see a huge voter advantage by creating a new state-run workforce dependent upon them for their jobs. And politicians from both parties would have a new voter-bloc to advance their ideological and political agendas.

Bernie’s plan is being called a guaranteed-jobs program, but the only guarantee it gives us is the destruction of capitalism and Constitutional America.


Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Culture and Religion

In UK, Ancient Heathenism Reigns Supreme

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Several minutes had passed since the medical examination of the newborn had begun. They stood inspective over the infant, occasionally murmuring to one another in a hushed tone.  The babe’s father stood nearby, pacing: his eyes intractably fixed on the small group of elders in a desperate attempt to interpret each subtle lift of an eyebrow or pinch of the lips.

Then came that dreaded nod…

The tormented father wept as the judge read the decision aloud: “as thinking it neither good for the child itself…” the child must die.

The above description is not a reference to the United Kingdom’s government-ordered killing of little Alfie Evans, nor the United Kingdom’s government-ordered killing of little Charlie Gard.

The infant’s death-order, described above, was merely the price of societal perfection for his father, living in the Statist abyss of Ancient Sparta.

In Lives: Lycurgus 16, Greek historian Plutarch (48-122 A.D.) wrote of the medical inspections of infants by “elders,” and of the state-ordered murder of infants in Ancient Sparta under the rule Lycurgus, a tyrannical central-planner:

“Nor was it in the power of the father to dispose of the child as he saw fit (as was his right in most heathen societies). He was obliged to carry (the newborn) child before certain men at a place called Lesche; these men were some of the elders of the tribe to which the child belonged; their business was to carefully view the infant, and, if they found it stout and well made, they gave order for its rearing and allotted to it one of the nine thousand shares of land above mentioned for its maintenance, but, if they found it puny and ill-shaped, ordered it to be taken to what was called the Apothetae (“depository”), a (large cave) under Mt. Taygetus (in the Peloponnese); as thinking it neither for the good of the child itself, nor for the public interest, that it should be brought up, if it did not, from the very outset, appear to be healthy and vigorous.” (emphasis mine)

Undesirable Infants – those either deemed unfit in some way, were conceived through rape, were unwanted, or were female – were often exposed, meaning that these infants were tossed into pits or over cliffs, or were abandoned in the wilderness and then left to starve or to be eaten by wild animals.

Such was life in the pagan purgatories of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

Such has life begun to be again, today, in the United Kingdom.

As I type, a toddler lies in the hospital, a prisoner, detained by the pagan pride of evil monsters, by his own Statist government.

The “elders” in the UK have sentenced little Alfie Evans to die, “as thinking it neither for the good of the child itself. Alfie may not be alone in the wilderness, but he is being exposed by the sword of starvation.

Right now, a tormented father weeps for his child.

The cruel winds of an evil-ridden history are circling ’round again.

 

Once Christianity came upon the scene, Christians began to regularly rescue exposed infants.

As Tertullian stated, “Christians sought out the tiny bodies of newborn babies from the refuse and dung heaps and raised them as their own or tended to them before they died or gave them a decent burial” (Early Church History).

“The Christian idea that each individual person has worth because they were created by God was foreign to the lies of pagan society where the State, the tribe, the collective was the only value they knew” (Early Church History).

One can even visit these once abandoned babes at the Catacomb of Praetextatus. “The catacombs are filled with very tiny graves with the epitaph ‘adopted daughter of…’ or ‘adopted son of…’ inscribed on them. These inscriptions refer to the many babies and young children Christians rescued from the trash over the centuries” (Early Church History).

Unlike during the times of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, however, today’s United Kingdom prevents Christians from aiding Britain’s exposed children.

Christians from across the globe have offered aid and open arms to little Alfie Evans. Pope Francis has faithfully attempted to save the ailing child, arranging medical transportation for Alfie so that he might fly via air ambulance to the Vatican’s hospital.

Still, the prideful “elders” cling mercilessly to their pagan heathenism, determined to deny any and all Christian charity for little Alfie.

 

Alas! One thing is now crystal clear: in the United Kingdom, ancient heathenism reigns supreme.

For a glimpse of the future, listen to these famous voices from the past:

In On the Laws 3.8, Cicero (106-43 BC) states:

“Deformed infants shall be killed.”

Posidippus, a Greek poet, wrote:

“Everybody raises a son even if he is poor, but exposes a daughter even if he is rich.”

In On Anger 1.15, Seneca (4 BC-65 AD) wrote:

“…mad dogs we knock on the head…unnatural progeny we destroy; we drown even children at birth who are weakly and abnormal.”

In Politics 7.1335b, Aristotle (364 BC-322 BC) wrote:

“As to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared;  but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring, and if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practiced on it (the child).”

In Theaetetus, the Greek philosopher Plato (quoting Socrates) wrote of the important societal task of killing infirm infants:

“For we must take care that we don’t overlook some defect in this thing that is entering into life; it may be something not worth bringing up, a wind-egg, a falsehood. What do you say? Is it your opinion that your child ought in any case to be brought up and not exposed to die? Can you bear to see it found fault with and not get into a rage if your first-born is stolen away from you?”

In Ad Nationes, Tertullian (155-220 A.D.) recorded the frequency of pagan infanticide in the Roman Empire during the late 100’s and early 200’s A.D.:

“…because, although you are forbidden by the laws to slay new-born infants, it so happens that no laws are evaded with more impunity or greater safety, with the deliberate knowledge of the public, and the suffrages of this entire age…But then you make away with them in a more cruel manner, because you expose them to the cold and hunger, and to wild beasts, or else you get rid of them by the slower death of drowning.”

In Book 3 of Instructor, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D.) wrote of Roman women caring more for animals than for children:

“And though maintaining parrots and curlews, they do not receive the orphan child; but they expose children that are born at home, and take up the young of birds, and prefer irrational to rational creatures.”

 

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Culture and Religion

New California law voids religious freedom to advance LGBT agenda

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In the war on American culture waged by the Marxist Rainbow Jihad and LGBT terrorists, there has been perhaps no greater battlefield than the state of California. And as the front where many of the battles are fought, it is also where we find the greatest number of casualties, usually children.

Government authorities working as a type of Gay Mafia have turned public schools into LGBT indoctrination centers where acceptance of deviant lifestyles is mandated by the state in the name of so-called tolerance. In these indoctrination centers, parents are denied the right to teach their kids the values they believe in, and children as young as five-years-old are disciplined as “bullies” for “misgendering” their gender-confused classmates.

Not content with brainwashing young minds, however, LGBT radicals in the CA legislature want to make it a crime for parents, pastors, and professional councilors to engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

Under a banner of so-called consumer protection, the bill (AB-2943) defines “change efforts” as:

“Any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behavior or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

The bill furthers the LGBT agenda in one more way; it codifies LGBT lifestyles as normal and scientific:

“Contemporary science recognizes that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is part of the natural spectrum of human identity and is not a disease, disorder, or illness.”

With this language added to the bill, freedom of speech and freedom of religion concerning LGBT issues will be essentially eliminated . . . by law!

I once wrote an article about how the LGBT culture war was one more reason for parents to take their kids out of public schools, but now that won’t be enough. This war has grown into a full-fledged assault on religion and traditional moral values.

We can no longer accept the “live and let live” ideology of the left under the mistaken belief that equality is their only goal. It’s time to fight for the souls of our children and the future of America while we still can.


Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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