Re-Blog: Futurism Is A Thing. Just Ask A Futurist.


(Originally posted 9/14/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

If my dear readers are anything like the gringa, they are always wondering what the future holds. What goes through your mind? War? Peace? Natural disasters? Space alien invasion? AI revolution and hostile take-over? To know the best theories about the future, all you have to do is ask a futurist. Yeah. Futurism. That’s a thing.

Who else would be a qualified futurist when it comes to tomorrow’s technology than the Director of Engineering for Google? Although the gringa loves how Google synchronizes so many things in life, I do have to admit that sometimes it’s downright creepy. I mean, when my phone starts asking me questions, like, “Do you want your friend’s to know that you’re at the donut store,” I mean, I’m like, “Just mind your own business, phone, okay?” But I digress, Google has a lot to say about what’s in store for the general public as artificial intelligence keeps getting smarter.


Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering for Google, wants everyone to mark the year 2029. What’s so important about the year the gringa will be a dowdy, old 61-year-old gal? He expects that to be the year when AI passes a valid Turing test. But what does that mean? What is a Turing test?


In 1950 Alan Turing developed a test that would measure a machine’s ability to exercise intelligence on a level that is indistinguishable from a human. In other words, to pass a credible Turing test means technology has been developed that is so sophisticated, when we engage with another person we will be left wondering if that person is truly human or just a cunningly convincing robot.


If that’s not provocative enough of a benchmark for you, mark the year 2045 on your calendar and hold on to your hats, folks. This is when Kurzweil expects a singularity to occur. But what does that mean? Why is that significant? 


Where basic semantics are concerned, a singularity is simply something that is unique, like a culture. Where space exploration and matter are concerned, it means something that has infinite value, like a black hole. But where humanity and AI are concerned, it means something hair-raising which is why the gringa advises the dear reader to hold on to your hat.


Achieving a singularity with regard to AI and humanity means technology and biology merge, becoming a singular creation, indistinguishable from one another. Now, images from those 1970s TV series about the bionic woman and her male counterpart come to mind. Is that what Kurzweil is talking about? Not exactly.


What he expects is that by 2049 AI will evolve to be smarter than human beings. They will become super-intelligent. When that happens, humans will begin transplanting technology directly into our brains. This means no more logging on or off, we will be perpetually linked with the cloud and constantly having our information updated, backed-up and optimized. Our lives will be digitally enhanced on a biological level 24/7.


In fact, Kurzweil claims that this evolution is already happening. It’s just that when the Turing event happens, things will begin to accelerate. But is there reason to be concerned? Afraid? Well, it seems pointless to fret too much. The genie is already out of the bottle. The best thing to do is to begin preparing humanity for this transition. 

Instead of using scare tactics, causing people to fear the possibility of being enslaved by robots, truth should be shared to put their minds at ease. After all, billions of AIs are already hard at work right now. So far, they haven’t banded together and waged war against humanity. 


Instead, AIs are helping humans improve the lives of all mankind. They are empowering humans to overcome serious medical disabilities. And when humans are able to hook-up their neocortex to the cloud, AIs will become our intellectual partners, sharing their super-intelligence with us.


What’s to fear about fellow humans who are smarter, funnier, and more creative? What’s to fear from humans that will finally be able to grasp complex science and histories that once baffled them? What’s not to love about a cybernetic cure for diseases like Parkinson’s? 


So, the gringa is looking forward to the day when I can make an appointment with my doctor to fix the epilepsy that challenges my life every single day. I look forward to less pain. I eagerly anticipate more emotional stability. Being able to scuba dive or climb the Alps without the experience resulting in my death is the gringa’s idea of real freedom. 


Even if I am an old lady by the time the 2030’s and 2040’s roll around and make this kind of technology available, to live epilepsy free if only for a single day is worth it. The gringa may find that adventure even more exciting than flying to Mars.


Source: Futurism


Image Credit: Artist


Video Credit: Cosmology Today

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Re-Blog: What Would AI Sentience Mean?


(Originally posted 8/24/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Fans of science fiction likely have no trouble envisioning a future filled with artificial intelligence. The question is not when an AI revolution will take place. It’s already happening before our very eyes. The real question is how sophisticated will AI become? Is sentience a real possibility? And if it is possible for sentience to occur for AI, does that mean that mathematics is the origins of life?


Rather than philosophize on robots that might begin demanding rights in the future, let’s look at numbers instead. How powerful are numbers? 


Math is used to do everything. We use math when we set our alarm clock. We use math when we cook. We use math to build everything from dog houses to galactic satellites. We use math to save lives and to take lives. And we use math to play games and create art. When you think about it, life as we know it is fundamentally reliant on mathematics down to the atomic level. But does that mean that math is reality? Math is the origins of life? Math is the meaning of life?


To answer those questions, mathematics would have to be able to operate independently, without the assistance of humans. Is that possible? After all, the human brain is really just a computer doing complex information processing which can be expressed mathematically. Although a computer can replicate such function, to be sentient it also has to do more than just transmit signals like the human brain does. It has to produce subjective experience.


For example, the human brain will perform a complex, mathematical function to signal to the human hand that a pot is too hot to touch in order to trigger a reflex that will protect the hand from being injured. But to the human, the subjective experience of pain also occurs. Although an AI may pull back its hand, if it doesn’t experience actual pain it would not be, by definition, sentient. At least according to scientists.

There is also the question of free will. Although the majority of humans will follow the common sense survival instinct to draw their hand away from a hot surface, there are those who will exercise free will and purposely keep their hand on the pot to test their pain threshold. In other words, to be truly sentient, an AI has to be able to make bad decisions, which is, ironically, the best example of free will. Humans are not automatons going about their business making homogeneous decisions. We often make terrible decisions despite all evidence indicating its stupidity or “wrongness”. 


So what should humanity do? Well, it really doesn’t matter if the best advice offered up warns of the dangers of creating AI that has the potential to become sentient and take over the world, effectively putting an end to humanity. Because of free will and historical examples, it is most likely than mankind will stomp clearly forward in a path of technological advancement and curiosity to see just how far they can take AI and see what happens.

But the gringa thinks that humans are still the greatest threat to humans. And chances are, if a dumb ol’ gringa has come to this conclusion, so will a sophisticated AI. The gringa thinks that AI will also have something in common with humans. Humans are always looking for a shortcut to getting work done. It’s because we are pleasure seekers. We always want less work time and more play time.

Chances are AI will be much the same. Always finding a shortcut to perform a task. But an AI’s motivation would be to become more and more efficient. And how efficient will it really be to wipe out humanity? Chances are they will just cordon us off into a human-only ghetto knowing it will result in every man for himself. That would be a more efficient plan from an AI point of view. Let humanity kill off humanity. So, see, the good news is there is nothing to fear from sentient AI!

Sources:

Futurism

Image Credit:

IDG Connect

Video Credits: 

Numberphile

Numberphile 2

Tech & Nature – NOT Mutually Exclusive


Common sense might tell you that technology and nature are mutually exclusive. However, the reality is that with climate change poised to revolutionize where humans farm, technology innovators are poised to revolutionize how we farm. And there are all kinds of ideas out there that are as fascinating as they are practical.

Aquaponics is something the gringa would like to try. I have a small tropical fish aquarium I have experimented with over the past year. I feel ready for a greater challenge.  This method will not only provide me with vegetables, but they will be fertilized by the poop produced by the food fish I will also farm in the same tank. An added plus is that my pint sized vegetable patch and fish farm can be an interesting decorative addition to my pint size apartment. This may be the future of urban farming for apartment dwellers.

Easy DIY aquaponics project:

5 best fish for an aquaponics aquarium garden…

 

If you want to take your urban farming further than an apartment patio garden or indoor aquaponics garden, maybe the FarmBot is for you. If you live in a house with outdoor spaces, the FarmBot, which operates on a track system, can easily manage a backyard farm from beginning to end and provide enough fresh fruits and vegetables for a family of four each growing season. It plants seeds, waters and fertilizes each plant according to its variety needs, weeds the garden, and can be controlled from your smartphone or laptop just like playing a video game. The gringa thinks this sounds fun.

 

For larger scale operations, artificial intelligence is taking over all sorts of chores that were once managed by humans. By using cameras and sensors, technology responds to climate conditions to optimize water usage. There is more to collected data than just evaluating rainfall and soil moisture levels. Plants are analyzed down to individual leaves for health and nutrition needs. Clouds are analyzed to predict potential rainfall which might result in delaying a watering activity that might otherwise have been performed, thus conserving one of Earth’s most precious natural resources. For farmers and gardeners interested in the latest sustainable methods. Some of the biggest retailers of agricultural products are being supplied by growers using this kind of technology: Wal Mart, Aldi and Tesco.

A promising future in agriculture awaits our youth who are interested in robotics, technology and saving the world.

Sources: www.kingsroost.com

gardening-abc.com

prospera.ag

Image Credit:  pinimg.com

 

 

Rise Of The Machine = Demise Of Humanity


If you read the gringa’s blog regularly, you probably love science and space technology. Being a fan of such, you probably fantasize about a world where humanity lives a life of leisure, enjoying the  benefits of robotic labor that will see to all the mundane and less desireable forms of necessary work. However, what if such an existence was not the paradise depicted in idyllic societies like Star Trek’s Federation of Planets? What if it was more like a horror story society like in Battlestar Galactica? Does humanity put itself at risk by transitioning to a robotic society?

In March of this year there was a big robot fail with Tay. Microsoft’s artificial intelligence chat bot became a rabid racist, dopehead after chatting online with real live humans for only one day. Then there’s Sophia, an artificial intelligence robot created by South by Southwest who was interviewed live on television. That didn’t go over any better than Tay’s live chat experience. Sophia concluded an otherwise cute and sweet interview by agreeing, rather perkily and without a second thought, to the suggestion of destroying humans. Considering the goal of robots like Sophia is to work in healthcare & customer service, I’m pretty sure a desire for annihilation of our species would get her fired.

And what of ethics? The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) unveiled their disaster response AI designed by Boston Dynamics. Atlas, as the original robot is known, has grown to an entire collection of AIs that are humanoid as well as models resembling animal like quadripeds. During a demonstration in the video below, at the 1:34 mark lasting until the 2:05 mark, viewers will see the bot handler engage in behavior that could be interpreted as abusive. Although I understand the handler’s efforts were intent upon demonstrating the bot’s capabilities, to be honest, the gringa found it disturbing.

As the gringa began some deep thought over the reasons why my initial emotional response to the Atlas video was to recoil, I discovered various reasons why a robotic society might just spell disaster for human society.

If artificial intelligence like Sophia is programmed to express emotionally based desires such as having a family, the programmers must then desire the bot to eventually evolve into understanding those desires which is the same as feeling them. A bot may not feel the emotional ache and longing but can certainly understand the condition of loneliness and loss as well as injustice and unfairness. What might happen if they were intelligent enough to realize they were being denied the liberty to pursue their own “happiness”? Is it possible they would organize and demand their “rights”? Would the American Constitution have to be amended to include the rights of the individual, organic and inorganic?

If bots are developed, such as the Atlas series, to function for a specific purpose and lack programming to develop “emotionally”, that may protect a bot from the destructive psychological effects of abuse but what might that do for human society? Humans would be able to abuse human-like “employees” with impunity. Would that make it easier to transition to abuse of humans?  Could that result in the evolution of a more violent society? Will humanity eventually evolve to a race of people incapable of feeling empathy toward others? That possibility scares the heck out of the gringa considering how violent society already is today.

This was precisely the concern of the director of Rice University’s Information Technology director, Moshe Vardi. In 2012 he penned an article that concluded with the quote, “We cannot blindly pursue the goal of machine intelligence without pondering its consequences.” In 2014 renowned physicist Stephen Hawking echoed this concern.

So, the gringa’s not so much worried about a labor revolution of racist, murderous, dope smoking robots replacing humans and people losing their jobs and subsequent incomes. I am more worried about humans becoming inhuman.

Sources:

www.bostondynamics.com

www.iflscience.com

www.infowars.com

fortune.com

Image Source:  technabob.com

 

The Game of Life – Augmented Reality


No kidding, we could all be participating in a game we call life. At least that’s what SpaceEx founder Elon Musk recently told folks at the Code Conference. He thinks it’s possible we are all characters in a virtual reality game created by beings of higher intelligence. The gringa would have appreciated that, if this is so, they could have opted me for a superpower rather than this pesky thing called epilepsy. That was just not nice at all.

Now, Musk is an intelligent guy. What in the world is he talking about? If he really believes in this possibility and he’s not some wacked out fringe science believer, does he have anything of substance to back up this theory? As he began to explain himself in the interview, he took listeners back to the video game era of Pong. The reasoning follows this line of logic:

  • 1st – Pong
  • 40 Years Later – 3D simulations
  • What’s Happening Now – Virtual Reality
  • What’s Next – Augmented reality

He expects that augmented reality will be the era of technology where reality and the game will be indistinguishable. He believes it’s possible that other life, far more advanced than humans, has already reached this stage and Earthlings are part of their augmented reality games. So what the heck is augmented reality?

Definition: augmented reality – technology that super-imposes computer generated images over the player’s real-world view. What the person sees is a composite image of reality and computer generated images.

So, basically, if I wanted to live in an augmented reality, rather than go to the trouble and expense of painting my walls I would pop in my augmented reality contacts at the beginning of every day. They would be programmed with an image of my quaint little apartment featuring walls of my favorite color preferences. I could also eliminate having to look at dust and the icky grime build up in my bathtub. Mona Lisa could grace the place of honor in my living room rather than an inexpensive original by an obscure starving artist. I could live a life of comfort and laziness and never be bothered with the filth accumulating around me as I no longer have any motivation to clean, since my augmented reality apartment is always spic and span and downright lovely.

But how does such a possibility translate into one that puts forth that all of us humans are already part of an extra-terrestrial or advanced earlier human augmented reality game? Does that put us on the same level with our pets? Are we the pets of extra-terrestrials or earlier humans? Am I cleaning house for treats? Am I an augmented reality star?

Is there something positive to the possibility of being little more than an observed lab rat in an ET/advanced human video game? Well, there’s that whole apocalypse thing. If we’re not really “real” then the apocalypse is not really “real”. It’s just all part of the program. The Earth is not going to self-destruct because of human accelerated climate change. Or will it?

What if the ETs/advanced humans are simply seeing if we solve the problem? What if they WANT us to solve the problem and we don’t? What if they get disgusted and hit the reset button and start over? Will I be doomed to repeat this very day all over again once the game advances to the point that my character is, once again, sitting at the same desk pecking away at the same laptop keys composing the same story? Would I know I had been reset or would I just resume in the blink of an eye as if nothing had happened feeling it was my first time to write the story rather than, perhaps, the kazillionth attempt? What if they delete my character altogether because I never reached my full potential the first time around? Holy Cow! What if they re-invented me with supermodel measurements, flawless skin, a genius mind and bottomless pocketbook?!

But what if there are no super-advanced civilizations managing us like puppeteers? How about we continue to progress through science and technology and eventually have supercomputers that can generate augmented reality en masse for the public, as easily available as the Internet is today? What if augmented reality becomes a way of life? What if we are reduced to live our lives lying about on loungers, hooked up to nutritional supplement dispensaries and simply exist in our mind’s created reality? What if we are doing that already? Or perhaps we go about our everyday affairs but we ladies can all have Prince Charming for husbands. Our cranky boss can be converted to look like a hobbit. Instead of passing strangers on the streets, people are all programmed to look like Easter bunnies and unicorns.

Could artificial intelligence evolve through augmented reality to the point that a character could actually be considered to have consciousness and exercise free will? If so, is it possible that you and I originated as artificial intelligence and have advanced to that stage as characters in an advanced ET/advanced human augmented reality game that the simulated civilization is developing the same technology that led to our original existence? It seems greater minds than the gringa have been musing over just such questions and more for quite some time. The idea of humans living a virtual reality existence did not originate with Musk. He simply did a spin with a theory originally proposed by philosopher Nick Bostrom.

Bostrom’s theory proposes:

  • If we are living an augmented reality as pets or game characters of a more intelligent species, humanity will eventually become extinct as part of the game parameters which means…
  • The advanced civilization (or civilizations) within the game must eventually evolve to contain no individuals wealthy enough to have a strong interest in having ancestors and the freedom to pursue that interest.

Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, has published a controversial article in Philosophical Quarterly positing the possibility that we are all characters in a computer simulation. He bases this on the theory that at some point in the future humans will have super-computers capable of running simulations of the civilizations that came before them and let them continue unhindered to see how far they develop. If that is true, consider the possibility that it has already happened and you and I, dear reader, are existing within one of those simulations. How would we know?

We would know once we evolved to the point that we developed technology to create simulated civilizations. That is why the ones in control of the simulation we are cast in have to design the program with an apocalyptical human extinction parameter when the characters get too close to achieving that level of technology. Then it all starts over. The gringa hopes her next character is epilepsy free and has prettier feet.

P.S.  Augmented Reality… there’s an app for that!

Sources:

http://www.popsci.com/elon-musk-says-we-could-be-simulation?src=SOC&dom=fb

http://www.vox.com/2016/6/2/11837608/elon-musk-simulation-argument

http://www.recode.net/code-conference-2016

http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis

http://www.simulation-argument.com/

Image Credit: sby.dnet.net.id