24 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2019
    1. A lot of AI researchers and pundits imagine that the world is already digital, and that simply introducing new AI systems will immediately trickle down to operational changes in the field, in the supply chain, on the factory floor, in the design of products. Nothing could be further from the truth. The impedance to reconfiguration in automation is shockingly mind-blowingly impervious to flexibility. You can not give away a good idea in this field. It is really slow to change. The example of the AI system making paper clips deciding to co-opt all sorts of resources to manufacture more and more paper clips at the cost of other human needs is indeed a nutty fantasy. There will be people in the loop worrying about physical wiring for decades to come.

      Great argument about why purely digital systems will not easily be able to bridge the gap to being able to manufacture themselves.

    2. It is well understood that many cases of exponential processes are really part of an “S-curve”, where at some point the hyper growth flattens out. Exponential growth of the number of users of a social platform such as Facebook or Twitter must turn into an S-curve eventually as there are only a finite number of humans alive to be new users, and so exponential growth can not continue forever. This is an example of case (b) above.

      The S-curve points to a time where the exponential progress of tech will flatten out and innovation will not longer be able to rely on principles that depend on scale. Software will have to come to terms with this, the way that software has been developed over the last 30 years it has assumed that the curve will be exponential in the uptake.

    3. Here is what goes wrong. People hear that some robot or some AI system has performed some task. They then take the generalization from that performance to a general competence that a person performing that same task could be expected to have. And they apply that generalization to the robot or AI system. Today’s robots and AI systems are incredibly narrow in what they can do. Human style generalizations just do not apply. People who do make these generalizations get things very, very wrong.

      This is a great support for the argument that humans and machines learn very differently that I made in the Graz talk.

  2. Apr 2018
    1. As systems increasingly record our personal activity and data, invisibility is exactly the wrong model.

      See the new problem posed by the GDPRs requirement to opt-in on any privacy sensitive operation.

  3. Nov 2017
    1. They pulled it off by hiding a fast typist (with a keyboard) in another room. The microphone output was fed to a speaker, and the hidden typist translated the speech into keystrokes which appeared as text on the monitor with amazing speed and accuracy.

      This reminds me of the Mechanical Turk a fake chess-playing machine from the 18th century. This is called a mechanical illusion.

    2. He carried the block of wood with him for a few weeks and pretended that it was a functional device in order to get insights into how he would use it. If someone asked for a meeting, for example, he’d pull out the block and tap on it to simulate checking his calendar and to schedule a meeting reminder.

      This is an excellent way of researching how this "pretotype" would integrate into ones life. However for this simulation to make any sense I guess one would have to have a pretty clear idea of what it means to "check your calendar", "set a meeting reminder", etc. Playing our the interactions, also means having an idea of the actions they would involve.

  4. Sep 2017
    1. “the poor [are] doomed to the Internet, a wonderful resource for watching shitty television, experiencing angst about other people’s salaries.”9 Built by “pointless men,” the net invokes nothing but trash and hate, leaving the poor empty-handed, with nothing to sell.10 The poor make money for Facebook. It will never be the other way round.

      actual labor relationship between poor people and the internet

  5. Dec 2016
    1. The main thing I want to say is that the problem with the left is that it’s obsessed with the problems of the individual. What they have neglected is power. It’s so important in our time, and in the discourse of right-thinking liberals, and right-thinking radical artists, the word power is practically never mentioned—it’s as if it doesn’t exist. But, actually, power shapes your world so much. That’s what I was trying to show in the film, that even on the echo chamber you occupy on Facebook, there are bits of code written that are shaping what you’re given. That’s power. There are computers shifting money around. That’s power. We’ve just got to try and bring it in focus. But because we’re so locked off to questions of the individual, we’ve lost sight of the questions of the collective, and that involves power.

      Power as an attribute of the collective, individualism is a movement toward the dispossession of power.

    1. What is the practical effect of this new truth on everyday life? Well, consider one example. In Turkey today, we are obliged to indulge a debate about whether minors should be married to their rapists. It is predicated on the “real people’s” truth that in rural areas girls get married even when they are just 13, and thus have sexual maturity. It is, we are told, a thoroughly elitist argument to insist that a minor cannot give consent.
    2. this mobilised and organised ignorance has no time for any kind of intellect, even that which helped it capture the political stage in the first place.
    3. We found, as you are now finding, that the new truth-building process does not require facts or the underpinning of agreed values. We were confronted – as you are being confronted – by a toxic vocabulary: “elite”, “experts”, “real people” and “alienated intellectuals”. The elite, with experts as mouthpieces of that oppressive elite, were portrayed as people detached from society, willing to suppress the needs, choices and beliefs of “real people”.
  6. Jul 2016
    1. Le Guin isn't a hard science fiction writer, "technology is carefully avoided." I stuck a footnote onto this in my translation of the article, and here is the footnote expanded — because this business is really getting my goat. 'Hard' sf is all about technology, and 'soft' sf doesn't have any technology, right? And my books don't have technology in them, because I am only interested in psychology and emotions and squashy stuff like that, right? Not right. How can genuine science fiction of any kind lack technological content? Even if its principal interest isn't in engineering or how machines work — if like most of mine, it's more interested in how minds, societies, and cultures work — still, how can anybody make a story about a future or an alien culture without describing, implicitly or explicitly, its technology? Nobody can. I can't imagine why they'd want to. Its technology is how a society copes with physical reality: how people get and keep and cook food, how they clothe themselves, what their power sources are (animal? human? water? wind? electricity? other?) what they build with and what they build, their medicine - and so on and on. Perhaps very ethereal people aren't interested in these mundane, bodily matters, but I'm fascinated by them, and I think most of my readers are too. Technology is the active human interface with the material world. But the word is consistently misused to mean only the enormously complex and specialised technologies of the past few decades, supported by massive exploitation both of natural and human resources. This is not an acceptable use of the word. "Technology" and "hi tech" are not synonymous, and a technology that isn't "hi," isn't necessarily "low" in any meaningful sense. We have been so desensitized by a hundred and fifty years of ceaselessly expanding technical prowess that we think nothing less complex and showy than a computer or a jet bomber deserves to be called "technology " at all. As if linen were the same thing as flax — as if paper, ink, wheels, knives, clocks, chairs, aspirin pills, were natural objects, born with us like our teeth and fingers -- as if steel saucepans with copper bottoms and fleece vests spun from recycled glass grew on trees, and we just picked them when they were ripe... One way to illustrate that most technologies are, in fact, pretty "hi," is to ask yourself of any manmade object, Do I know how to make one? Anybody who ever lighted a fire without matches has probably gained some proper respect for "low" or "primitive" or "simple" technologies; anybody who ever lighted a fire with matches should have the wits to respect that notable hi-tech invention. I don't know how to build and power a refrigerator, or program a computer, but I don't know how to make a fishhook or a pair of shoes, either. I could learn. We all can learn. That's the neat thing about technologies. They're what we can learn to do. And all science fiction is, in one way or another, technological. Even when it's written by people who don't know what the word means. All the same, I agree with my reviewer that I don't write hard science fiction. Maybe I write easy science fiction. Or maybe the hard stuff's inside, hidden — like bones, as opposed to an exoskeleton....

      Ursula K. Le Guin on hi/lo tech and how our perceptions of technology affect our reading of science fiction.

  7. Apr 2016
    1. In the earliest "information wants to be free" days of the internet, objectives were lofty. Online access was supposed to unleash positive and creative human potential, not provide a venue for sadists, child molesters, rapists, or racial supremacists. Yet this radically free internet quickly became a terrifying home to heinous content and the users who posted and consumed it.

      changing narratives

    1. “Hypocrisy is the gap between your aspirations and your actions. Greens have high aspirations – they want to live more ethically – and they will always fall short. But the alternative to hypocrisy isn’t moral purity (no one manages that), but cynicism. Give me hypocrisy any day.”

      George Monbiot on hypocrisy.

  8. Mar 2016
    1. Capitalism has absorbed the greens, as it absorbs so many challenges to its ascendancy. A radical challenge to the human machine has been transformed into yet another opportunity for shopping.

      About the capacity that capitalism has to assimilate any critical views.

    2. The myth of progress is to us what the myth of god-given warrior prowess was to the Romans, or the myth of eternal salvation was to the conquistadors: without it, our efforts cannot be sustained.

      "Innovation" is part of that narrative.

    3. ‘Few men realise,’ wrote Joseph Conrad in 1896, ‘that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.’ Conrad’s writings exposed the civilisation exported by European imperialists to be little more than a comforting illusion, not only in the dark, unconquerable heart of Africa, but in the whited sepulchres of their capital cities. The inhabitants of that civilisation believed ‘blindly in the irresistible force of its institutions and its morals, in the power of its police and of its opinion,’ but their confidence could be maintained only by the seeming solidity of the crowd of like-minded believers surrounding them. Outside the walls, the wild remained as close to the surface as blood under skin, though the city-dweller was no longer equipped to face it directly.

      On the frailty of human achievement and the fragile line that separates civilisation from wilderness.

  9. Feb 2016
    1. On an island in the North Atlantic, leagues below the surface, subterranean veins of liquid rock well upward through primordial vents, whereupon they make contact with equally ancient aquifers, producing steam that is artfully siphoned off and passed through turbines, which, when spun up, produce bountiful, carbon-free electricity. This great stream of benign electrons – a true social good if ever there was one – is then passed onward, by means of cables, to some of the most esoteric, purpose-built computers ever assembled. These machines patiently wade through a truly psyche-shattering number of useless calculations, each one a discarded digital lottery ticket. Ever-more rarely, one of them strikes algorithmic gold. In an instant, the winning computation is transmuted into units of cryptocurrency, and on the other side of the planet, a Chinese hedge fund collects a small reward. This is how the world works now: the geophysical system connects to the computational system, which links to the financial system, which shapes the geopolitical system, and round and round we go.

      On bitcoin mining in Icelandic data centers where electricity is cheap.

    1. In his infamous 1950 paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Alan Turing introduced the notion that a computer is nothing more than a machine that functions by pretending to be other machines.

      Discussed after explaining the capability of The Thing to adopt any form.

  10. Oct 2015
    1. Whether this notion was brilliant or naive, I couldn’t decide, but it felt revelatory. There in the pool, immersed in clouds of steam that fostered a sense of mystic intimacy, I wondered whether a generation that found the concept of privacy archaic might be undergoing a great mutation, surrendering the interior psychic realms whose sanctity can no longer be assured. Masking one’s insides behind one’s outsides—once the essential task of human social life—was becoming a strenuous, suspect undertaking; why not, like my teenage acquaintance, just quit the fight? Surveillance and data mining presuppose that there exists in us a hidden self that can be reached through probing and analyses that are best practiced on the unaware, but what if we wore our whole beings on our sleeves? Perhaps the rush toward self-disclosure precipitated by social media was a preemptive defense against intruders: What’s freely given can’t be stolen. Interiority on Planet X‑Ray is a burden that’s best shrugged off, not borne. My teenage friend was onto something. Become a bright, flat surface. Cast no shadow.

      Referring to the notion of abandoning all hope to preserve privacy and instead of protesting about governments gathering intelligence without our permission, design a society were people simply confess what's in their minds in huge specially designated centres.

    2. When I told him about my NSA excursion, he sighed and shook his head. Surveillance, he said, was pointless, a total waste. The powers that be should instead invite people to confess their secrets willingly. He envisioned vast centers equipped with mics and headphones where people could speak in detail and at length about their experiences, thoughts, and feelings, delivering in the form of monologues what the eavesdroppers could gather only piecemeal.

      Reminds me about THX 1138.

    3. Referring to the notion of abandoning all hope to preserve privacy and instead of protesting about governments gathering intelligence without our permission, design a society were people simply confess what's in their minds in huge specially designated centres.

  11. Sep 2015
    1. Every measured physical quantity is defined by its numerical value and its dimensions. We don’t quote c simply as 300,000, but as 300,000 kilometres per second, or 186,000 miles per second, or 0.984 feet per nanosecond.

      0.2999232 meters per nanosecond

    1. Each collision increases the amount of debris, which in turn increases the likelihood of more collisions, and there’s danger of a domino effect situation, which scientists call the Kessler Syndrome.