Is the Terminator becoming real?
An American “Reaper” flying hunter-killer robot assassin rebelled against its human controllers above Afghanistan on Sunday, and a manned US fighter jet was forced to shoot the rogue machine down before it unilaterally invaded a neighbouring country.
The Reaper, aka MQ-9 or Predator-B, is a large five-ton turboprop powered machine able to carry up to 14 Hellfire missiles – each capable of destroying a tank or flattening a building. It is used by the US and British forces above Afghanistan as a “persistent hunter-killer against emerging targets”.
According to USAFCENT Public Affairs:
The aircraft was flying a combat mission when positive control of the MQ-9 was lost. When the aircraft remained on a course that would depart Afghanistan’s airspace, a US Air Force manned aircraft took proactive measures to down the Reaper in a remote area of northern Afghanistan.
The statement goes on to say that the errant killdroid “impacted the side of a mountain” and that there “were no reports of civilian injuries”.
USAFCENT don’t specify just what manned jet went up against the mutinous machine, or what methods the pilot used. However the logical choice would be a fighter plane – probably an F-15, -16 or -18 – and the cheapest and most fun weapon to use would be cannon fire. Opposition from the Reaper wouldn’t be an issue, as it is a low-performance aircraft compared to a jet fighter and has no air-to-air capability.
It wasn’t clear from the US military announcement whether the erratic death-bot had turned on its masters and was planning an attack on critical US logistics bases located north of the Afghan border, or whether it had sickened of reaping hapless fleshies like corn and was hoping merely to escape. Alternatively the machine assassin may merely have succumbed to boredom or – just possibly – a mundane, non-anthropomorphic technical fault of some kind.
Despite the wording of the article, I don’t think these aircraft have sentient capabilities. They are remote controlled by a pilot in a control room/tent at USAFCENT like a video game.
If anything, once the control link went defective, the guidance system just maintained its last known input heading. They destroyed it for safety reasons, not because it decided to run away from home.
But if DARPA develops more sophisticated software for the damn things though, all bets may be off!
Since we’re discussing Singularity Tech here, how about a little interview with Nick Bostrum, a philosopher who deals with the futuristic effects of accelerating technology.
Here are parts of a September 9, 2009 session:
Modern science already offers ways to enhance your mood, sex drive, athletic performance, concentration levels and overall health. But is such medically driven self-improvement always a good idea? Nick Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, believes it’s time to open the ethical debate surrounding human enhancement — a term that is growing to include genetic, pharmaceutical and technological ways to improve our physical and mental abilities and even dramatically extend human life. He recently edited a collection of essays on the subject, Human Enhancement, and in an e-mail exchange explained why our future holds great promise — and grave danger.
You believe it’s time to have this ethics conversation. Why?
For the most part, the ethical discussion is running ahead of reality, which is as should be. However, we already have alertness enhancers (caffeine, modafinil), athletic enhancers (steroids, EPO), sexual-performance enhancers (Viagra), immune enhancers (vaccinations) and concentration enhancers (Ritalin). One can expect improved versions of these to become available in the short term. In addition, memory enhancers are currently in clinical trials. Perhaps there will be compounds that facilitate trust — such as Oxytocin — and encourage pair bonding, or improved diet pills, or treatments that slow the rate of aging and increase sustainable mental energy. Each intervention has to be judged on its merits, the benefits weighed against the costs and risks.
Even small enhancements can have profound impacts, right?
There are approximately 10 million scientists in the world. If you could improve their cognition by 1%, the gain would hardly be noticeable in a single individual. But it could be equivalent to instantly creating 100,000 new scientists.
You recently completed work on whole-brain emulation. Could you discuss that and its relationship with human enhancement?
Whole-brain emulation is a hypothetical future technology which would enable human minds to be “uploaded” from biological brains onto computers. This is a radical technology that’s a long way off. It is nevertheless worth analyzing now because if it is developed, it would have profound consequences in relation to enhancement. For example, a mind that runs as software on a computer is not subject to biological aging. Such a mind could also be sped up by moving it to a faster computer. Backup copies could be made for safety. And so forth. But it is important not to conflate these more remote possibilities with what is possible today or in the near future.
Whole brain emulations are the Holy Grail of Singularity Tech. It effectively garuantees a sort of physical immortality.
I wonder what the ethical ramifications there is with that?
P.S. I’m kind of biased about the subject because without enhanced vascular reconstructive surgery, I wouldn’t be here writing about the issue!
The meme of a technological singularity is gaining mainstream acceptance.
To that point here are some startling developments that claim the technological singularity might not be so much science fiction in a few short years.
Imagine a future where engineers build a computer with greater-than-human intelligence. This hyper-intelligent being expands its knowledge and brainpower exponentially over days and weeks as it learns how to improve on its own hardware and software design. It starts building ‘offspring’ even smarter than itself.
The sudden arrival of these offspring – cheap, mass-produced super-intelligent machines – sparks explosive economic growth, triggering a series of cascading events.
THEY base their predictions on the fact that technology is advancing fast – the processing power of computers doubles every two years. If this continues at current rates, then machines will surpass the processing capacity of the human brain sometime between 2030 and 2040.
Once a computer becomes aware, it will be able to improve on itself faster than any human designer, ushering in advances in a single decade that would have taken humans thousands of years of discovery and experimentation. Technological development will leap off the charts, becoming so rapid that we cannot possibly imagine the results.
It’s been called the ‘geek rapture’ – an allusion to the belief among some Christians that, at the end of the world, they’ll be whisked directly to heaven in a process termed ‘the rapture’.
Whoever said that the technological singularity is so much fantasy, nobody has bothered to tell the US government’s DoD Tech Arm DARPA yet:
In anticipation of a potential program on the topic of Physical intelligence (PI), DARPA is hosting two Proposers’ Day Workshops that will provide critical information on the program vision, the milestones, and opportunities associated with the development of interdisciplinary teams to respond to an anticipated Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). The Physical Intelligence program aspires to understand intelligence as a physical phenomenon and to make the first demonstration of the principle in electronic and chemical systems. A central tenet is that intelligence spontaneously evolves as a consequence of thermodynamics in open systems. The program plan is organized around three interrelated task areas: (1) creating a theory (a mathematical formalism) and validating it in natural and engineered systems; (2) building the first human-engineered systems that display physical intelligence in the form of abiotic, self-organizing electronic and chemical systems; and (3) developing analytical tools to support the design and understanding of physically intelligent systems. If successful, the program would launch a revolution of understanding across many fields of human endeavor, demonstrate the first intelligence engineered from first principles, create new classes of electronic, computational, and chemical systems, and create tools to engineer intelligent systems that match the problem/environment in which they will exist. Concepts relevant to the objectives of the Physical Intelligence program can be found in numerous disciplines and areas of research including statistical physics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, dissipative systems, group theory, collective behavior, complexity theory, consciousness theory, non-linear dynamical systems, complex adaptive systems, systems analysis, multi-scale modeling, control systems, information theory, computation theory, topology, electronics, evolutionary computation, cellular automata, artificial life, origin of life, microbiology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary chemistry, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, brain modeling, organizational behavior, operations research and others.
If the DoD believes there’s something to it and willing to invest taxpayer dollars, well, you get the picture…
Fermi Paradox? Feh. It’s because some alien civilizations could be exploring the galaxy ‘sustainably’:
The Fermi Paradox cannot logically conclude that humans are the only intelligent
civilization in the galaxy. This is due to the Sustainability Solution to the Fermi Paradox
presented here: the absence of ETI observation can be explained by the possibility that
exponential growth is not a sustainable development pattern for intelligent civilizations. Thus,
the Paradox can only conclude that other intelligent civilizations have not sustained exponential
growth patterns throughout the galaxy. It is still possible that slower-growth ETI civilizations
exist but have not expanded rapidly enough to be easily detectable by the searches humans have
yet made. It is also possible that faster-growth ETI civilizations previously expanded throughout
the galaxy but could not sustain this state, collapsing in a way that whatever artifacts they might
have left have also remained undetected. Both of these growth patterns can be observed in
human civilization, suggesting that they may be possible for ETI civilizations as well.
The Sustainability Solution to the Fermi Paradox has practical implications for both the
search for extraterrestrial life and human civilization management. In the search for
extraterrestrial life, the Sustainability Solution allows that slower-growth ETI civilizations may
still transmit radio or other signals. Furthermore, ambitions such as Solar System SETI may
eventually discover extraterrestrial messenger probes residing in the asteroid belt and other
stellar orbits. For human civilization management, the Sustainability Solution increases the
likelihood that human civilization needs to transition towards sustainable development in order
to avoid its own collapse.
I could buy that, but it throws the Kardashev Scale of Civilizations out the window.
Come to think of it, so does the Technological Singularity!
My summer readings continue unabated quite nicely, since I haven’t had any Internet connection since last December. Until then, I didn’t realize that being online was such a distraction. After looking at it however, and studying the effects of online communications (Twitter, Skype, texting and social networking) I think that unless I have an inboard chip in my brain to keep up with these technological phenomena, I’m going to be left very far behind into the Before Singularity Era.
And believe it or not, that might be okay with me.
The main reason being that I’m very, very nervous about having an RFID chip injected into my brain, for no other reason than the government, or other corporate entities tracking my every move and reading my body signatures and chemistry’s to perhaps to ascertain my motivations for various actions I might be taking.
At the least, my brain could be flooded with non-stop bullshit corporate advertising to buy useless crap, at the worse, brainwashing by the same gov/corp entities.
A lot of people would say that’s typical right-wing paranoia. But is it?
For one thing, I never have considered myself ‘right-wing’, though I do have some libertarian leanings in certain areas. For the most part however, I have always thought that it’s a society’s duty to help the down and out who can no longer care for themselves and let them have a certain amount of dignity in their lives. Most would consider that view ‘left-wing’ or socialist. But I digress.
My distrust of certain Singularitarian technologies might be just fear of the future, but I think I can be justified in saying that these technologies in the wrong hands could cause great harm and can create a fascist society in which individual freedoms are severely restricted, propaganda broad-casted rampantly and pogroms committed against people who don’t have these technologies embedded into their persons.
History bears this out, again and again.
On the other hand, if used properly, these same technologies can create great freedoms and opportunities for populations, if distributed evenly.
If one takes into account that what is happening in Iran just might be legitimate and not a CIA operation, Twitter by itself could change the complection on an entire nation for the better.
History will determine if this is so, Singularity or not.
I have always been a fan of space opera. My first book of it was an anthology titled Space Opera of the 1930s. The book burned up in a house fire my parents had in 1993 unfortunately and I have yet to find it anywhere, even eBay! Anyway, the genre has made a resurgence in the 1990s and in this first decade of the 21st Century with such authors as Greg Egan, Ian MacDonald, Alastair Reynolds, Charlie Stross (he claims not) and Iain M. Banks.
Banks made his fame with his ‘Culture‘ novels; stories centered around a super-advanced, highly liberal and altruistic galaxy spanning society. Think the society of ‘Star Trek’ in 8,000 years. Those are superb examples of modern day space opera.
But currently I’m reading a banks story that’s not centered in the ‘Culture’ universe, but it’s just as entertaining. The title is ‘The Algebraist’ and to be truthful, I just started reading it this week. From what I have read already, it’s easy to see why it was a Hugo Award nominee for best novel in 2005. Banks uses ‘hard science’ physics in this novel; nothing can move faster than light, but the galactic society uses ‘wormholes’ (called portals here) to stitch the various civilizations together. However, the wormholes must be transported in slower-than-light ships in be placed in the subject solar systems, and that can take centuries. Unfortunately, war is still in style in the future and portals do get destroyed, cutting civilizations off.
Banks also uses gas-giant planet life-forms called ‘Dwellers’, who spread throughout the galaxy billions of years ago. These beings are super long lived in comparison with mankind and other like creatures, who are called the ‘Quick’, simply because their life spans are ‘quicker.’
The Dwellers along with the novel’s protagonist, Fassin Taak, are central to the story, which is different for Banks because he takes a decidely different track than his Culture books, which are AI heavy. In the case of this story, AIs are an enemy and abomination to be destroyed (although they still have their uses). Reminiscent of ‘Dune’ here.
I am now starting to get to a good part in the book where the action starts to pick up some. Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint.
I don’t think it will. I have rarely, if ever, read a bad Iain Banks novel.
Expanding on yesterdays’ post about Singularity technology and dogma, today I found an interesting post about virtual reality and the ‘uploading’ of human consciousness into computer software, an advanced form of ‘Second Life’ or ‘World of Warcraft’ if you will. So my question to the ether is, “Is this part of the NWO plan to put humanity into a ‘Matrix’ type reality to keep us happily enslaved?”
Virtual worlders, led by a so-called “convergenist” from the National Science Foundation, met this week to discuss one of their plans for humankind: capturing individual personalities onto computers, and transmitting them into other worlds.
Rather than meeting in the real world, attendees at the Convergence of the Real and the Virtual conference brought their swords and leopards, and their idealized bodies (big muscles, big boobs) to a space in World of Warcraft, an online massively multiplayer online role playing game, or MMORPG.
The NSF sociologist who organized the WoW scientific meeting, William Sims Bainbridge [sic}, has taken the form of a “level 65 (out of 70) blood elf priest” in the game, which claims more than nine million players.
Part of Bainbridge’s job, as director of the NSF’s Human-Centered Computing Cluster, is to direct young researchers into areas of “future research,” including “immersive and multi-sensory technologies, and direct brain-computer interfaces.”
For the WoW meeting, Bainbridge described how human consciousnesses might be uploaded to virtual worlds (at least in Battlestar Galactica, they call it “downloading”).
Although I have called myself a transhumanist in the past, the idea of ‘uploading’ my consciousness into an artificial world gives me a queasy feeling. Is that an old fashioned affectation on my part, a hold-over from my upbringing and a biological bias? It could be, but the author of this post points out something else, control of the masses as put forward by William Sims Bainbridge:
If World of Warcraft is fundamentally subversive, Second Life is utopian. In principle, except for the land sold and taxed by Linden Lab, this virtual world is entirely created by its residents. Some rules have crept in over time, such as bans on child pornography, gambling casinos, and most recently unregistered financial institutions. Said to have been inspired by the imaginary Metaverse in Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash, like World of Warcraft it is tied to a west-coast American counterculture, but it seeks to empower ordinary people more than to critique the elite.The logical extension of these principles would be full cultural and legal independence, in which virtual worlds seceded from the (perhaps) dysfunctional nations of the mundane world. Already, social theorists have contemplated non-spatial government that represents the interests of online communities that are not limited to any particular patch of dirt. My own research has turned up many indications that the subculture to which virtual worlds belong has departed from conventional culture in many ways. Notably, participants are much less likely to be guided by religious belief, and more likely to prefer the suspension of disbelief associated with science fiction and fantasy. So, we can expect that virtual worlds will prototype many social innovations that might then diffuse to offline governance, while often preaching sedition. The question then becomes how much this revolution is real, rather than virtual.
“How much of this revolution is real, rather than virtual.” Well, I don’t know. The NWO brooks no dissention, so I have to believe that in order for the control mechanism to work and to have willing slaves, the outlet for sedition has to remain in the virtual ‘Matrix’ world. So the VR template has to be as ‘real’ as possible in order to fool the human brain. The slave masses in ‘The Matrix’ trilogy had no idea their universe was generated by an artificial intelligence, so it would at least have to be of that quality or greater.
In this instance I have to break with the movies and propose that the NWO super-computers would have to go another route other than sucking the life out of their slaves to power their machines, there are more efficient ways for that. I’m going to note something that caught my eye yesterday that might tie in real nicely with the NWO/Matrix and part of the control mechanism that could be utilized:
The future isn’t all rosy. Increasing pollution, overpopulation, poverty, and climate change – society’s impact on the earth is reaching a breaking point. And while we may work to slow the onset of these catastrophes, reversing them is no longer an option. The question becomes, how do we live with the troubles we’ve already caused?
What if we used technology to not only combat this dangerous new environment – but also to escape from it? We already use mobile devices to provide on-demand escapism, channeling movies, music, and other distractions. Increased processing power and emerging technologies will enable holistic computing systems to be stored in wearable devices, providing a more immersive personal media experience. In a troubling future, these augmented reality devices would offer a new dimension – a virtual layer that could be used to “re-skin” the troubling outside world. A boundary between the wearer and the world around him, the device would become a sort of visual drug, used to make the world appear a better place – even if just for a moment.
Re-skin reality? Just what the NWO sociologists ordered! Better than that ol’ time religion, bring on that Singularity tech!
Okay, so my imagination’s running rampant here. Taken by themselves, these inventions and events might not amount to much. But better minds than mine are connecting the same dots.
It seems we keep swallowing the red pills instead of the blue ones the NWO keep pushing.