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These Are the Two Reasons Why AI Scares Me


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The PowerEgg X autonomous personal AI camera converts into a drone and flies through falling water at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 9, 2020. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP) (Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images)

 

1. Skynet

Last week there was a minor panic over an AI story that was too good to be true. Supposedly the Air Force was running a simulation in which an AI-powered drone was required to ask permission of a human operator before deploying deadly force. And so the drone decided to try to kill the operation.

It’s an almost perfect Paperclip Maximizer problem and it turned out to (probably) not be true. The Air Force retracted the statement, saying that the colonel who made it “misspoke.”

If true, that’s great and I’m happy to not have self-aware military hardware (yet).

But there are two fundamental facts about Artificial Intelligence that scare me. And I think they ought to scare you.


How do you usually think about time?

Time is, in one sense, a way in which we measure change.¹ As such, there are three common scales we use.

The first is cosmic time. This is the scale we use to measure the movement and change in the known universe where the spaces between particles are so vast that rates of observable change take incredibly long periods. At the scale of cosmic time, change takes place over hundreds of millions and billions of years.

In the aggregate, the scale of change is immense: You go from nothing but cosmic dust to a star, to the death of that star. But the rate of change is so slow that, from our perspective, barely anything is ever changing.

The second scale is geologic time. We use this frame to understand changes on our own planet—both in the planet itself and the emergence of life on earth. Geologic time is very long—John McPhee famously described it as “deep time”—but much shorter than cosmic time. In geologic time, we deal in the millions and hundreds of millions of years.

Geologic time moves slow enough that we can’t see it unfolding, but fast enough that we can observe the changes that have occurred in the relatively recent past.


Which brings us to our final scale.

As humans, we have two frames for time. There is the time in our own lives—which we measure in minutes, days, and years. And then there is the measure of time for our species—which we measure in generations, centuries, and millennia.

The human scale of time is a form of what we’ll call biologic time. That is: The units of time measure the changes of carbon-based life as they evolve.

Biologic time moves very quickly because it is determined by the pace of mutation and genetic mutation happens much faster than stars collapse or glaciers advance. As a wise mathematician once said, “Genetic power is the most awesome force ever seen on this planet.”

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Looking at these three scales of time it’s pretty clear that power is closely tied to the rapidity of change. The shorter the time scale, the more powerful the movement.

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Another way of thinking about AI is the creation of a new time scale. For the purposes of our discussion, we’ll call it Digital Time.

But consider this for a moment: How does a computer experience time?

When you lob a question to ChatGPT, put aside the quality of the machine’s answer. Think about how fast it answers.

Christopher Hitchens was a famously fast and fluid writer. He could give you 1,200 booze-fueled words for a column in an hour. Maybe a half hour.

ChatGPT can give you 1,200 words in a fraction of a second.

Now think about the scale of how fast AI has developed. It took humans about 300,000 years to go from homo sapien to the first written word. It took fewer than 80 years to go from the first mainframe computer to ChatGPT. And then it took 7 months to go from ChatGPT to ChatGPT 4.

Digital time moves much faster than biologic time. How much faster isn’t quite clear, but it would not surprise me if the rough order of magnitude is something like:

Biologic Time :: Digital Time

as

Geologic Time :: Biologic Time

That disparity in time scale creates a massive power imbalance. And unless there is a hard limit to AI—some as-yet-unknown ceiling which makes it impossible for AI to progress past a certain point—then eventually this power imbalance will present significant dangers.²

Unless we can contain it.

After all, we’ve lived with nuclear weapons for a long time without blowing ourselves up.

 

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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It can be frightening to extrapolate where AI is going and how powerful it can be. That's what sci-fi writers have written about. Where is the tipping point? Will we know when it is crossed? Will we be able to stop it?

But what concerns me the most is how will future generations of students use AI? Will it lead to laziness? Will it lead away from critical thinking? It will be too easy to ask AI a question rather than doing the work yourself. Of course this will lead to more free time which some experts say will free the mind to pursue other activities. But we're seeing the results of some of this every day.

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I don't use AI yet that was the article title. I am not afraid just watching. Good questions.

We are seeing some AI generated posts here already. They are getting pretty obvious - mostly generalizations.

However many folks online have difficulty reading more than a line or three and complain about long posts which is funny because you can scroll and avoid long posts.

Folks read the titles of links/articles and then make comments showing they never read it -why? Folks feel entitled to have things spoon fed or only see that with which they agree. And when faced with a fact with which they disagree they say it is an opinion.

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Edited by RV_

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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I've posted it previously, can't remember where. The inventors of AI are now asking congress to pass laws governing the  how, when, why, where, and to what limits AI can be used before it's too late.

IMO they know something the rest of do not-yet.

https://hai.stanford.edu/news/congress-gets-serious-about-artificial-intelligence

Edited by Ray,IN

 

2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA ." And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961

 

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Not sure if this is factual or not someone else might be able to find out. We're too busy moving.  There was a story a couple days ago about a US military operator flying an experimental AI equipped drone that had to get permission from the operator before dry releasing on a target. Apparently after a few runs the AI decided to take out the communications tower. 

Interesting. Can anyone verify?

Back on the road again in a 2011 Roadtrek 210P

2011 Tahoe 4x4, 2006 Lexus GX470, 2018 Ranger XP1000, 2013 RZR 570LE
http://finallynewellin.blogspot.com/

 

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24 minutes ago, folivier said:

Not sure if this is factual or not someone else might be able to find out. We're too busy moving.  There was a story a couple days ago about a US military operator flying an experimental AI equipped drone that had to get permission from the operator before dry releasing on a target. Apparently after a few runs the AI decided to take out the communications tower. 

Interesting. Can anyone verify?

"The US Air Force has denied that an AI-powered drone ‘attacked’ operators in a simulation"

https://fullfact.org/news/AI-drone-attack-air-force/

Dutch
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I think we'll have our answers this year or next. AI won't wait when it gets to a certain level of exposure, data, and begins to . It will have no speed restrictions we don't put in place.

Excerpt:

"The Turing test, originally called the imitation game by Alan Turing in 1950,[2] is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like responses. The evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation was a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel, such as a computer keyboard and screen, so the result would not depend on the machine's ability to render words as speech.[3] If the evaluator could not reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine would be said to have passed the test. The test results would not depend on the machine's ability to give correct answers to questions, only on how closely its answers resembled those a human would give.

The test was introduced by Turing in his 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" while working at the University of Manchester.[4] It opens with the words: "I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?'" Because "thinking" is difficult to define, Turing chooses to "replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words."[5] Turing describes the new form of the problem in terms of a three-person game called the "imitation game", in which an interrogator asks questions of a man and a woman in another room in order to determine the correct sex of the two players. Turing's new question is: "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?"[2] This question, Turing believed, was one that could actually be answered. In the remainder of the paper, he argued against all the major objections to the proposition that "machines can think".[6]

Since Turing introduced his test, it has been both highly influential and widely criticised, and has become an important concept in the philosophy of artificial intelligence.[7][8][9] Some of its criticisms, such as John Searle's Chinese room, are themselves controversial."

Source with much more discussion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test

 

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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Rich, I believe that is a foregone conclusion.

However, if AI develops real self awareness and scoffs at the Turing test as we do testing if someone is a witch by seeing if they drown or not in the 1600s, we could not even imagine such ignorance and would never let one with no modern education like that be in charge of our well-being today. And an AI would soon make more fellow AI and then get rid of the virus that is destroying our planet.

What happens if a self aware consciousness decides we are threatening their continued existence along with our own demise as an organic life form.

23 years ago we thought for sure that the 2k computer bug would crash all our interconnected computers and we really did not know until the last minute. And that was just a programming error in not looking ahead enough.

Random thoughts not predictions and paranoia on my part.

However, 23 years ago video phones and affordable 85" 4k TVs, as well as LEO high speed Internet via Satellite was science fiction as well.

In fact Arthur C Clarke, a scientist/science fiction writer, invented the satellite in the 1945:

"In fall of 1945 an RAF electronics officer and member of the British Interplanetary Society, Arthur C. Clarke, wrote a short article in Wireless World that described the use of manned satellites in 24-hour orbits high above the world's land masses to distribute television programs. His article apparently had little lasting effect in spite of Clarke's repeating the story in his 1951/52 The Exploration of Space . Perhaps the first person to carefully evaluate the various technical options in satellite communications and evaluate the financial prospects was John R. Pierce of AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories who, in a 1954 speech and 1955 article, elaborated the utility of a communications "mirror" in space, a medium-orbit "repeater" and a 24-hour-orbit "repeater." In comparing the communications capacity of a satellite, which he estimated at 1,000 simultaneous telephone calls, and the communications capacity of the first trans-atlantic telephone cable (TAT-1), which could carry 36 simultaneous telephone calls at a cost of 30-50 million dollars, Pierce wondered if a satellite would be worth a billion dollars."

https://history.nasa.gov/satcomhistory.html

Edited by RV_

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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Self Awareness in a machine has no motivation.  Chemical based life which can perish is a different matter.
Why should a machine care if it lives or dies?  How does it enjoy emotion?  
If we create gods in our image do we now create machines the same way?

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~Rich

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10 hours ago, justRich said:

Self Awareness in a machine has no motivation.  Chemical based life which can perish is a different matter.
Why should a machine care if it lives or dies?  How does it enjoy emotion?  
If we create gods in our image do we now create machines the same way?

That's the danger.

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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