Artificial intelligence or no artificial intelligence?
That is the question robotics expert analyses in this interview with New Scientist:
Robotics expert Noel Sharkey used to be a believer in artificial intelligence. So why does he now think that AI is a dangerous myth that could lead to a dystopian future of unintelligent, unfeeling robot carers and soldiers? Nic Fleming finds out
What do you mean when you talk about artificial intelligence?
I like AI pioneer Marvin Minsky‘s definition of AI as the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence if done by humans. However, some very smart human things can be done in dumb ways by machines. Humans have a very limited memory, and so for us, chess is a difficult pattern-recognition problem that requires intelligence. A computer like Deep Blue wins by brute force, searching quickly through the outcomes of millions of moves. It is like arm-wrestling with a mechanical digger. I would rework Minsky’s definition as the science of making machines do things that lead us to believe they are intelligent.
Are machines capable of intelligence?
If we are talking intelligence in the animal sense, from the developments to date, I would have to say no. For me AI is a field of outstanding engineering achievements that helps us to model living systems but not replace them. It is the person who designs the algorithms and programs the machine who is intelligent, not the machine itself.
Are we close to building a machine that can meaningfully be described as sentient?
I’m an empirical kind of guy, and there is just no evidence of an artificial toehold in sentience. It is often forgotten that the idea of mind or brain as computational is merely an assumption, not a truth. When I point this out to “believers” in the computational theory of mind, some of their arguments are almost religious. They say, “What else could there be? Do you think mind is supernatural?” But accepting mind as a physical entity does not tell us what kind of physical entity it is. It could be a physical system that cannot be recreated by a computer.The mind could be a type of physical system that cannot be recreated by computer
So why are predictions about robots taking over the world so common?
There has always been fear of new technologies based upon people’s difficulties in understanding rapid developments. I love science fiction and find it inspirational, but I treat it as fiction. Technological artefacts do not have a will or a desire, so why would they “want” to take over? Isaac Asimov said that when he started writing about robots, the idea that robots were going to take over the world was the only story in town. Nobody wants to hear otherwise. I used to find when newspaper reporters called me and I said I didn’t believe AI or robots would take over the world, they would say thank you very much, hang up and never report my comments.
You describe AI as the science of illusion.
It is my contention that AI, and particularly robotics, exploits natural human zoomorphism. We want robots to appear like humans or animals, and this is assisted by cultural myths about AI and a willing suspension of disbelief. The old automata makers, going back as far as Hero of Alexandria, who made the first programmable robot in AD 60, saw their work as part of natural magic – the use of trick and illusion to make us believe their machines were alive. Modern robotics preserves this tradition with machines that can recognise emotion and manipulate silicone faces to show empathy. There are AI language programs that search databases to find conversationally appropriate sentences. If AI workers would accept the trickster role and be honest about it, we might progress a lot quicker.
These views are in stark contrast to those of many of your peers in the robotics field.
Yes. Roboticist Hans Moravec says that computer processing speed will eventually overtake that of the human brain and make them our superiors. The inventor Ray Kurzweil says humans will merge with machines and live forever by 2045. To me these are just fairy tales. I don’t see any sign of it happening. These ideas are based on the assumption that intelligence is computational. It might be, and equally it might not be. My work is on immediate problems in AI, and there is no evidence that machines will ever overtake us or gain sentience.
And you believe that there are dangers if we fool ourselves into believing the AI myth…
It is likely to accelerate our progress towards a dystopian world in which wars, policing and care of the vulnerable are carried out by technological artefacts that have no possibility of empathy, compassion or understanding.
How would you feel about a robot carer looking after you in old age?
Eldercare robotics is being developed quite rapidly in Japan. Robots could be greatly beneficial in keeping us out of care homes in our old age, performing many dull duties for us and aiding in tasks that failing memories make difficult. But it is a trade-off. My big concern is that once the robots have been tried and tested, it may be tempting to leave us entirely in their care. Like all humans, the elderly need love and human contact, and this often only comes from visiting carers. A robot companion would not fulfil that need for me.
You also have concerns about military robots.
The many thousands of robots in the air and on the ground are producing great military advantages, which is why at least 43 countries have development programmes of their own. No one can deny the benefit of their use in bomb disposal and surveillance to protect soldiers’ lives. My concerns are with the use of armed robots. Drone attacks are often reliant on unreliable intelligence in the same way as in Vietnam, where the US ended up targeting people who were owed gambling debts by its informants. This over-reaching of the technology is killing many innocent people. Recent US planning documents show there is a drive towards developing autonomous killing machines. There is no way for any AI system to discriminate between a combatant and an innocent. Claims that such a system is coming soon are unsupportable and irresponsible.
Is this why you are calling for ethical guidelines and laws to govern the use of robots?
In the areas of robot ethics that I have written about – childcare, policing, military, eldercare and medical – I have spent a lot of time looking at current legislation around the world and found it wanting. I think there is a need for urgent discussions among the various professional bodies, the citizens and the policy makers to decide while there is still time. These developments could be upon us as fast as the internet was, and we are not prepared. My fear is that once the technological genie is out of the bottle it will be too late to put it back.
Well, I think the ‘genie’ is almost out of the bottle now.
The Pentagon’s science tech arm DARPA is currently working on war machines that could be sentient and perform operations in the field in a few short years; https://www.fbo.gov/download/eae/eae3b7e276226b092f17fe69359f31d4/BAA_DARPA-BAA-09-63.doc
It’s a long abstract, so pack a lunch.
But it shows how serious the US government is in developing Terminator type artificial intelligence.
In the end, could we still control such creatures?
And would they be alive by biological standards?
Our good friends at the high-tech Pentagon company DARPA, has another goody waiting in the pipeline to perpetuate the Empire and bring death and destruction faster and deadlier through-out the world; high speed, deeper diving submarines.
The latest class of submarines can travel at more than 25 knots submerged.But what if the Navy had a much smaller submarine that could travel four times as fast?
”The real reason we buy nuclear submarines instead of non-nuclear ones is that we’re not protecting the Gulf of Mexico,” said retired Navy Capt. James Patton Jr., president of Submarine Tactics and Technology in North Stonington. “We go halfway around the world, real quick. We get there and we stay there. Anything that would allow you to get a platform somewhere a long ways away pretty quickly would have great military value.”
That is why the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which commissions research for the Defense Department, has given Electric Boat millions of dollars to design a vehicle that could potentially transport high-value cargo or small groups of people at 100 knots (about 115 miles an hour) in a program known as “Underwater Express.”
The technology, if developed, could revolutionize ocean transportation if it could be adapted to cargo and passenger ships.
The vehicle would travel inside a large gas bubble created in the water, a process known as supercavitation. The bubble reduces drag, since the drag is much lower in air than in water, allowing the vehicle to travel at high speeds.
Supercavitation is not new. The technology has been applied to weapons, but never to transport vehicles, according to DARPA.
”What we’re trying to do is come up with the sweet spot where science meets practicality,” said Franz Edson, EB’s director of submarine payload integration and strategic weapon systems. “The problem with the technology, the science, was you couldn’t go very far, you didn’t have any endurance and you couldn’t maneuver very well, so it was really kind of limited practicality.
”What these guys here have come up with is a way to dramatically increase the endurance and maneuverability of a body in supercavitating flight, so now you can really start to do things with it.”
Blowing out air to create the bubble that envelops the vehicle is wasteful, and a vehicle can only carry so much compressed air, so Jack Chapman, an engineer at EB, came up with a way to “mitigate that issue,” Edson said.
Exactly how is the gas-bubble creation process managed efficiently? Well, that’s a secret.
”It’s revolutionary, but we can’t tell you what it is,” said Jennifer Panosky, program manager of advanced programs and future payloads at EB.
”It’s not something we want other people to be aware of,” Edson said. “We’ve proven it works. We’ve set records for the longest supercavitating flight in a water tunnel. This has the potential to change ocean transportation.
”Ships would be much more fuel-efficient, or could use the same amount of fuel and instead of taking two weeks to get across the Pacific, they could get across in a matter of days. It’s pretty slick.”
DARPA has given EB about $26 million so far for the project, with another $12 million expected by the end, said Panosky.
EB initially pitted its design against one from Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Maryland. EB was chosen to build a quarter-scale unmanned vehicle, based on the concept of a full-scale size of 8 feet in diameter and 100 feet in length, for a demonstration in spring 2010 in the waters off Rhode Island.
The demonstration will include a 10-minute run at speeds of up to 100 knots with maneuvers, including depth control, to show the controllability of the vehicle, according to a DARPA statement.
At that point, the program will conclude and the technology will be available to the Navy for use in future systems as desired, according to DARPA.
This ‘revolutionary development’ interests me a bit. It’s like creating an underwater ‘warp-bubble’ that enables the sub to become more ‘aerodynamic’ under water so it can go faster.
From what I understand from the article, the original method utilizes air to create the bubble that encircles the vessel ( torpedo/missile ).
I wonder just what this new development entails?
What fascinates me the most, this revelation ( revolutionary development )coincides with this tidbit from Russia:
The Russian navy has declassified its records of encounters with unidentified objects technologically surpassing anything humanity ever built, reports Svobodnaya Pressa news website.
The records dating back to soviet times were compiled by a special navy group collecting reports of unexplained incidents delivered by submarines and military ships. The group was headed by deputy Navy commander Admiral Nikolay Smirnov, and the documents reveal numerous cases of possible UFO encounters, the website says.
Vladimir Azhazha, former navy officer and a famous Russian UFO researcher, says the materials are of great value.
“Fifty percent of UFO encounters are connected with oceans. Fifteen more – with lakes. So UFOs tend to stick to the water,” he said.
On one occasion a nuclear submarine, which was on a combat mission in the Pacific Ocean, detected six unknown objects. After the crew failed to leave behind their pursuers by maneuvering, the captain ordered to surface. The objects followed suit, took to the air, and flew away.
Many mysterious events happened in the region of Bermuda Triangle, recalls retired submarine commander Rear Admiral Yury Beketov. Instruments malfunctioned with no apparent reason or detected strong interference. The former navy officer says this could be deliberate disruption by UFOs.
“On several occasions the instruments gave reading of material objects moving at incredible speed. Calculations showed speeds of about 230 knots, of 400 kph. Speeding so fast is a challenge even on the surface. But water resistance is much higher. It was like the objects defied the laws of physics. There’s only one explanation: the creatures who built them far surpass us in development,” Beketov said.
Could it be that these underwater objects utilized the same method that DARPA is studying for future submarines?
Does DARPA/Pentagon have a captured underwater UFO for study to back-engineer? Did the Russians for that matter? And why didn’t they copy the technology themselves?
Maybe there’s no connection at all and it’s just coincidence?
The blogger IIB has long posted about DARPA and its involvement with Google and its founders to bring about a self-sustained distributed artificial intelligence in order to trigger a Technological Singularity.
I used to be a supporter of a Singularity, until I realised that it could make the human species extinct, of which I’m no fan. And creating machines that are conscious like humans is a tall order, maybe impossible to build.
But that doesn’t mean the possibility of the event occurring is diminished, one has to take into account the power of intent.
And no one entity is more intent than the US Government’s DARPA:
The idea behind Darpa’s latest venture, called “Physical Intelligence” (PI) is to prove, mathematically, that the human mind is nothing more than parts and energy. In other words, all brain activities — reasoning, emoting, processing sights and smells — derive from physical mechanisms at work, acting according to the principles of “thermodynamics in open systems.” Thermodynamics is founded on the conversion of energy into work and heat within a system (which could be anything from a test-tube solution to a planet). The processes can be summed up in formalized equations and laws, which are then used to describe how systems react to changes in their surroundings.
Now, the military wants a new equation: one that explains the human mind as a thermodynamic system. Once that’s done, they’re asking for “abiotic, self-organizing electronic and chemical systems” that display the PI principles. More than just computers that think, Darpa wants to re-envision how thought works — and then design computers whose thought processes are governed by the same laws as our own.
Over the centuries up until the present times, mankind’s intelligence has been attributed to something “outside” of our physicality, the ‘soul’, cosmic awareness, doppelganger, astral body and ‘consciousness.’
Empirical science with it’s “if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist” approach has worked fine in a lot of discoveries over the past 300 some-odd years since the “Enlightenment” era and I can’t bitch too hard about it.
Without it, I wouldn’t be here today to discuss this topic.
But I have also found during the past two years that reality has more subtlety than what is quantified by empiricism, or what limitations our instruments currently have in measuring ‘reality.’
And what accounts for mankind’s awareness has been a huge bug-a-boo for science to get a handle on, since so many people in this day and age take it on faith alone that we exist after physical death.
DARPA must have an abundance of transhumanists and singularitarians working for them because that is a basic tenet of their philosophy; human beings are ‘meat’ or wetware holding intelligence or ‘consciousness’ that can be measured and ‘downloaded’ into immortal hardware, or another computational medium.
Here we have an example of the attempt to build consciousness from scratch, either through some enhanced biological medium, or non-biological forms. Perhaps a bit of both.
I’m not sure it’s possible to do this, if it is just a matter of recreating the human brain, I think we would’ve done it already, if we’re just ‘meat.’
I’m reminded of my first psychology professor years ago who taught that “human beings are greater than the sum of their parts, a gestalt, if you will.”
Basic, but I still remember it to this day. Probably because there is a simple wisdom to it.
Perhaps some good will come from this research; the development of artificial brains would be beneficial to brain accident victims, Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s patients.
Unfortunately, DARPA is a military research organisation first and foremost. As the article indicates, the first recipients in these experiments are to be autonomons used as cannon fodder, or severely brain damaged soldiers augmented and sent back into the field. Again as cannon fodder.
What will happen if these beings do turn out to be “conscious?”
Will human-rights organisations speak up for these first true transhumans?
Better yet, will self proclaimed transhumanist organisations speak up for them?
Archaeology enthusiasts from around the world are gathering in Marquette this weekend to discuss the ancient civilizations of America.
The fourth annual Ancient American Preservation Society Conference on Ancient America began Friday and ends Sunday. Judy Johnson, the 2008 conference chairwoman, said the event will raise funds for the purchase of one of the largest known pieces of float copper discovered in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
“It’s over 99 percent pure copper,” Johnson said of the large metal slab left in the area by a glacier. It “is in danger of being acquired by industry for melting down, for smelting, for industrial purposes.”
The society would like to preserve the float copper as a geological specimen and has already invested $10,000 toward securing it, she said.
However, Johnson said the group has only two years in which to raise the additional $340,000 needed to purchase the more than 50-ton slab.
Johnson and others involved with the AAPS believe the copper found in the Upper Peninsula drew Europeans and Asians to the continent before Columbus visited the Americas.
This is something very interesting, America being exploited for resources, especially copper which was the carbon fiber composite of its day.
That in of itself isn’t odd, it’s the 2000 B.C. date that gets to people!
The Pentagon wants to be able to peer inside your apartment building — picking out where all the major rooms, stairways, and dens of evil-doers are.
The U.S. military is getting better and better at spotting its enemies, when they’re roaming around the streets. But once those foes duck into houses, they become a whole lot harder to spot. That’s why Darpa, the Defense Department’s way-out research arm, is looking to develop a suite of tools for “external sensing deep inside buildings.” The ultimate goal of this Harnessing Infrastructure for Building Reconnaissance (HIBR) project: “reverse the adversaries’ advantage of urban familiarity and sanctuary and provide U.S. Forces with complete above- and below-ground awareness.”
By the end of the project, Darpa wants a set of technologies that can see into a 10-story building with a two-level basement in a “high-density urban block” — and produce a kind of digital blueprint of the place. Using sensors mounted on backpacks, vehicles, or aircraft, the HIBR gear would, hopefully, be able to pick out every room, wall, stairway, and basement in the building — as well as all of the “electrical, plumbing, and installation systems.”
Darpa doesn’t come out and say it openly. But it appears that the agency wants these HIBR gadgets to be able to track the people inside these buildings, as well. Why else would these sensors be required to “provide real-time updates” once U.S. troops enter the building? Perhaps there’s more about the people-spotting tech, in the “classified appendix” to HIBR’s request for proposals.
I discovered this site over the weekend and does this guy do his research!
If you want to get all kinds of skinny on dirty NWO crap, this is a must see site.
The state of New Mexico hopes to collaborate with two firms to create suborbital vehicles for space tourists. This illustration is one concept for the ship, which will afford passengers a 360° view of space. Armadillo Aerospace plans to build an initial prototype of the vehicle in 2009 and is aiming for crewed suborbital flights in 2010. The reusable vehicles will take off vertically from Spaceport America near Las Cruces, New Mexico. The ships can take two passengers at a time, and tickets will cost an estimated $100,000.
Pretty wild, though I would be spooked by the knowledge that there’s only a few millimeters of film separating me from space.
I wonder what the insurance cost would be for Armadillo Aerospace?
Did I hear someone mention “release forms?”