Connect with us

Everything

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

Published

on

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.

Advertisement

0

Conservatism

A renewed call for prayers for our nation

Published

on

A renewed call for prayers for our nation

Prayer is a powerful thing. Whenever we give praise to our Father in Heaven and beseech Him for blessings, He hears us. He may not always grant us our wishes; he’s not a fictional genie. Our wishes are not His command. But He does hear us, and when the chorus of prayers for a particular event are strong, it is a benefit to the cause. Today, America needs prayers. Society is slipping into a state of decadence that only He can reverse.

We often rely on ourselves to get things done. Hard work and perseverance go a long way. We also often rely too heavily on our elected officials to do the right thing, but as solid as our constitutional republic is in form, it is beset by turmoil and and a rising anti-Biblical worldview that is pervading the collective consciousness of many Americans who aren’t even aware that it’s happening.

Sex and violence have been normalized as “entertainment.” More attention is often paid to our mobile devices than our children, who themselves are given mobile devices to keep them busy so we can spend more time on ours. Churches are becoming more progressive to keep up with changes in society. Meanwhile, other religions such as Islam, atheism, and transhumanism are growing dramatically.

On the political front, many Americans are becoming increasingly dependent on government and are embracing politicians who want to bring us all into a forced state of dependence. Washington DC in general has denied the wise tenets of federalism and gone for full-blown federal supremacy across the board. We have good people fighting for us in DC, but they are outnumbered and oftentimes overpowered by their cohorts, bureaucrats, and an activist judiciary that holds its own delusions of grandeur.

I find myself seeking solutions to America’s problems most hours of the day. It’s my job to analyze what’s happening in the news and decipher what it means to the American people. Then, I try to either side with the most righteous solutions or offer new ones of my own. In this daily cycle, I often lose sight of the true nature of this world. There is Divinity holding everything together, but there are also principalities and powers stacked against us.

Unfortunately, part of our weakness as humans means the allure of the anti-Biblical worldviews and the progressive mentality on governance ring wonderfully in our ears. We hear the call of evil forces and all-too-often it sounds appealing to us. It’s like candy to a child. They’ve been told eating their broccoli is better for them but they love the candy so much more.

America needs a few revivals. We need a revival both of the church and within the church. More people need to be attending as well as actively participating more than one day a week. Meanwhile, the churches themselves need to abandon the politically correct version of Bible teaching and focus on the truths of the text itself.

We need a revival of conservatism. Populism may be alive and well, and for now it’s an acceptable alternative to the evils of radical progressivism, but we must strive for a stronger adherence to the philosophies that are necessary to keep American exceptionalism alive and widespread throughout our nation. There are simply too many “RINOs” out there not realizing their pushes for political expediency are betrayals to America itself.

Above all else, the United States needs more citizens to pray for our nation. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray for discernment among the people. Pray that more people will open their eyes to the truth of the Gospel and our hearts to the gift of Jesus Christ. We must keep fighting the good fight, but doing so mustn’t get in the way of praising and beseeching our Creator.

Perhaps Daniel did it best in his prayers to our Lord.

Through all of the existential threats brewing in and out of the worlds of politics and religion, there is one action that is undeniably positive: Prayer. If we start praying for our nation and have others pray for her as well, perhaps there really is hope.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement

Continue Reading

Entertainment and Sports

HBO should can Bill Maher, but don’t hold your breath

Published

on

HBO should can Bill Maher but dont hold your breath

Until yesterday, I actually liked Bill Maher. I never agreed with his politics but he got an “entertainer’s pass” in my books as someone who can’t really do much to harm the political process and actually helps galvanize conservatives against the clear media bias mounted against us. But then he went to a new low, saying he was glad David Koch was head and hoped he died in pain.

It’s too far. Even if we disregard the fact that it’s disrespectful of Koch’s loved ones, the hideous nature of the comments makes it something we as a people should denounce. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, which may be soon, I’m hopeful no notable conservatives act the way Maher did. If they do, I’ll condemn them just as quickly as I’m condemning Maher.

This behavior is beyond being a provocateur and HBO shouldn’t stand for it. But they will. In fact, they’ll probably support him. He’s good for subscriptions and espouses their collective ideology. Therefore, a toxic jab at a dead Libertarian is far from grounds for termination and may be grounds for added support from executives at HBO.

Here are some Twitter reactions:

People like Bill Maher have the gall to point at President Trump as a reason for the degradation of American society. It’s true that we’re losing our civility, but it’s mostly at the hands of progressives who have no respect for anything American.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement

Continue Reading

Democrats

Desperate Beto O’Rourke repeats lie that Trump called KKK members ‘very fine people’

Published

on

Desperate Beto ORourke repeats lie that Trump called KKK members very fine people

A popular technique used by Nazis before and during WWII was to tell a big lie often and loudly. Their theory was if you tell the same lie over and over again, eventually it would be accepted as the truth. It’s ironic that Democrats like Beto O’Rourke are invoking this Nazi technique to tie President Trump to the KKK. It’s also quite sad as the once-high-flying progressive hero has fallen so far that he must rely on controversy just to stay relevant. His poll numbers are that bad.

His latest attempt to play the race card against anything and everyone who doesn’t agree with him has him repeating the tired old lie that has been perpetuated by mainstream media and propped up by social media. But even worse is the fact that some search engines are keeping stories accepting the false claims ranked higher than the fact check stories that debunk the claim.

Once and for all, President Trump did not call KKK members “very fine people.” During the Charlottsville protests, white supremacists were present. But also included in the crowd on the right were average citizens who were upset about the take down of American historical monuments. As the President noted and as has been verified by independent sources, these “very fine people” were among the white supremacists. It’s possible to support a goal but not hold the ideology of others who support the same goal. Just because I don’t want monuments taken down doesn’t mean I’m a white supremacist. I’m not even white.

Here is what the President actually said, with the extremely important last portion of his statement conveniently omitted from all progressive media reports. They took him out of context so blatantly and heinously because they NEED the people to believe he’s racist. Emphasis and bracketed notes have been added, since progressive media and Beto O’Rourke clearly lack reading comprehension skills.

“You had some very bad people in that group [referring to neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and KKK members]. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name… I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”

A plain-text reading of the President’s statement make O’Rourke’s recent Tweet either the product of his own stupidity or an unambiguous bald-face lie.

There are millions of Americans who disagree with President Trump over policies. There are some people who aren’t happy with his results so far. Both of these are open for proper discourse in the form of criticism, praise, or debate. But let’s try to keep the lies to a minimum. I understand the race card is all the Democrats have left, but they should try harder to make plans that work (or embrace the GOP’s plans that are already working) instead of stooping to name-calling and promoting false narratives.

There are only two possibilities. Either Beto O’Rourke is extremely unintelligent, lacking in basic reading comprehension skills, or he is a blatant liar so desperate for attention that he’ll say anything for a headline. He needs to be pitied.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement

Continue Reading

Facebook

Trending