AI News, The Road to Killer AI: ML + Blockchain + IOT + Drones == Skynet?
- On Sunday, June 3, 2018
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The Road to Killer AI: ML + Blockchain + IOT + Drones == Skynet?
Lately, there has been a lot of concern about the recent explosion of AI, and how it could reach the point of 1) being more intelligent than humans, and 2) that it could decide that it no longer needs us and could in fact, take over the Earth.
Physicist Stephen Hawking famously told the BBC: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Billionaire Elon Musk has said that he thinks AI is the “biggest existential threat” to the human race.
Computers running the latest AI have already beaten humans at games ranging from Chess to Go to esports games (which is interesting, because this is a case where AI could be better than humans at playing games which were built as software from the ground up, unlike Chess and Go, which were developer before the computer age).
One of the most popular is of course, Skynet, the intelligence that takes over in the Terminator universe and decides to wipe out most of humanity and enslave the rest (except for the resistance fighters, led by John Conner, but that involves a terminator travelling back in time, and time travel will be handled in another essay).
In order to ensure that electricity generated by the human brain can be put to use, the super-intelligent machines put humans in pods, keeping our minds busy playing a giant video game or simulation (i.e.
would argue that on the one hand, it’s a long road from today’s AI to this kind of nightmare scenario, where killer AI takes over and either kills or enslaves the human race.
On the other hand, these “other areas” are actually progressing rapidly and we can hear the buzzwords all around us in the tech world: blockchain, peer-to-peer computing, IOT (Internet of Things), robots and drones.
When I was studying computer science at MIT, I remember being told that AI research was initially about trying to find “rules” and “symbolic representations” that mimicked the human mind.
This type of AI, rather than being set up with rules, is fed data for a specific task, and it uses that data to change the weights of specific connections in the neural network.
For example, most human drivers rarely came to a full stop at a stop sign, while the self-driving car was waiting for the other driver to come to a complete stop.
This “mini-version” of the Gate may be opened in a few years, while we may be decades away from a general purpose AI like data, which will probably require a new, third wave of AI, that goes beyond simple rules or simple data/training sets.
GATE #2: AI which can easily interface with the physical world In a recent episode of the X-Files (season 11, E6), we see a scenario that is closer to our current evolution of technology and AI and which showed the frightening possibilities of tying AI to the physical world.
In this episode, Mulder and Scully are chased by AI which controls everything around them, including self-driving uber-like cars, refrigerators, delivery drones from Amazon, and of course, the cooking in the restaurant where the problem starts.
This field depends heavily on the evolving field of machine vision, relying on cameras and images, then interpreting what those objects are (street signs, clothes, houses, and most importantly, people).
As we mentioned, AI is already showing signs of becoming better than humans at playing video games — it’s only a matter of time that these two areas are combined, creating AI that is not only better at targeting locations, but is armed and able to do so autonomously without human intervention.
My estimate is that it’s only a matter of a few years (or a decade at most) before AI can interface fully with the physical world, using machine vision and machine learning that has been trained to recognize and make decisions about almost all aspects of the physical world.
That’s what makes Skynet the type of intelligence that we should be afraid of — intelligent software that could run on any device, replicated and spread out across the world, and which can’t be turned off easily.
At the end of HBO’s show Silicon Valley’s fourth season, for example, the team needed to preserve some data that was on a set of physical servers in the team’s garage that were frying away.
While this might look like a good thing — having processing power and data on devices (millions of devices), it brings up an interesting point for the replication of data across the world on mobile phones, refrigerators, and other things.
If a Skynet-like program is ever to be built, it needs to be able to survive on multiple devices across the world and not subject to an “easy fix” or a simple shutdown of a particular type of OS.
The idea of blockchain is that there are multiple, de-centralized peer to peer computers around the world all replicating a set of data and code that is being used to construct and validate the “blockchain”.
While this idea was pioneered with Java back in the 1990s (where we thought it might be a universal language that has a VM to be run on any device), many other smart-contract languages and projects have emerged, looking to improve on Ethereum’s limitations.
Today, the Ethereum VM doesn’t really have access to things “outside” the virtual world, but as new cross-blockchain and internet-aware programming languages come into play, you could see new inventions in this area.
A virtual machine that could be run on computers and other devices around the world regardless of processors (this has already been established to some extent, but the IOT and mobile parts would still need to be realized).
We can use HAL 9000 computer from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey as an example here — when Dave Bowman tries to shut Hal down in 2001, he is aware that Dave is trying to shut him down and actively works against this, resulting in the famous line: HAL: “I’m sorry, Dave.
In more popular science, the term “singularity” has been defined as a point where computers become more intelligent than humans (this was first used by science fiction writer, and former faculty at San Diego State, Vernor Vinge).
While more intelligent AI may be better at protecting itself, it may also be better at realizing that killing all humans is not in its interest, assuming that it’s running on electro-magnetic computer networks and someone may need to maintain those networks.
This reminds me of something that a martial arts instructor said once: If you are going to get into a sparring match with a black belt, it’s better to go with a fourth level black belt than someone who just became a black belt.
The answer is yes, but the higher level black belt will have more control and is less likely to kill you or hurt you in the wrong place, whereas someone who just became a black belt has power but not the level of control or wisdom to make sure they don’t hurt you too bad during the sparring match.
In one of the most famous examples of “values” in artificial devices, Isaac Asimov famously declared the Law of Robotics: In his fictional universe, these laws were like a base “operating system” for robots (which were basically physical AIs).
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