terça-feira, outubro 04, 2016

Toasters in the Wild West: "Westworld" by Jonathan Nole/JJ Abrams

This is basically a reboot of the 1973 Westworld with some stuff merged in (stolen :-) from Philip K. Dick and the movie Blade Runner.

Their "AI" is not advanced or clever, because it is not AI at all. Building a robot that follows a predefined pattern with a few subtle variations is not the definition of AI. Making it as human-like as possible is also not AI, that is a material science, texturing and engineering (advanced, very high res 3D printing) challenge. The Hosts are not smart; they are like soaped up video game characters. The problem with every advanced robotics project, though, is that AI can emerge spontaneously when the substrate (aka the "base cognitive level", whatever the Hosts now have) becomes sufficiently complex, in much the same way conscience and intelligence emerged in the primitive proto-humans. The concept of emergent properties, now formulated in modern Systems Theory but going back as far as Aristotle ("The whole is greater than the sum of its parts"), refers to new, "higher" properties that emerge in sufficiently complex systems (such as a brain, or the internet) that were absent in the lower levels, and cannot be recreated by simply adding the parts of the system (say neurons) together. Currently the internet is derived from adding all of the world's computers, networks and servers together. However, if a global super-intelligence emerged sometime in the future when the internet would be sufficiently complex and dense, you could not recreate that super-intelligence by simply adding everything together, because it would be a "higher" property. And that is a real world fear. That a runaway global AI could emerge from the internet itself -and not from Google, Facebook, etc., doing god knows what. The Internet is currently considered the nervous system of the planet, but it is still very sparse and dumb. It is anyone's guess what would happen if it became self-conscious.  I really don't know if we should call today's very narrow implementations, such as convoluted neural networks, machine and deep learning, "AI". There is only so much you can do with software on conventional hardware, even very fast hardware. On the other hand, new neuromorphic computer designs such as IBM's TrueNorth or NeuroGrid built at Stanford, which trade clock speed for massive parallelism (much like the human brain), might eventually get us somewhere. For better or for worse. I also don't think that you need to be a God to train a neural network to lie. It is much more complex and godly to design one, but today you can train it in an easier language like Python (plus the SciPy/NumPy libraries). There have been machines who've been claimed to pass the Turing test, though all that might tell you is that the humans who were playing the interrogator role were easily fooled. One way to do it is to program the machine to give wrong answers, make spelling errors, be stupid sometimes - like real humans. Convincing a third of the humans a machine is human may just amount to an admission that humans can be stupid sometimes and we expect more from machines.

As stated, Westworld is another reboot, which is the new Hollywood trend loved by the coke-head producers (JJ Abrams comes to mind). The whole "mankind creates toasters (and then mistreats them), toasters evolve, toasters go gaga, some humans sympathize with the toasters" (order may vary) has been done to death. The pilot adds nothing new to this scenario. Instead we get to see the premise to the show (which we already know, except for those of us who'd been living under a rock for the past 40 years that is) explained to us at an excruciatingly slow pace. You know that dimwitted kid who keeps asking the teacher to explain the same thing (no matter how simple it is) over and over and over, while the rest of the class is sitting there wishing they had cyanide with their morning coffee? Well, good news, that kid is all grown up and making films now. He’s called JJ Abrams. Such producers believe that going this route is the best of both worlds. There are still so many unexplored ideas in SF, why go on this particular path? There is nothing clever or imaginative in Westworld, just the usual JJ Abrams non-plotting approach to genre TV. Let’s throw random stolen genre ideas at a wall, watch us too dim to object to this irresponsible method argue about what it all means, and then mine the 'brain power' of this crowd. In short, another turd coming out of Abrams’ mouth. 

SF = Speculative Fiction.

2 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...


As far as I'm concerned, "Lost" was Abram's last good work. Star Wars left me so bleh and while Startrek was entertaining, it wasn't "good".

And while I can understand studios recycling stuff because they're people from hell, I don't understand producers/etc WANTING to do that. I thought they all considered themselves "arteests"...

Manuel Antão disse...

These kind of "arteests" I can do without, my friend. I just want ONE good show to look forward to at the end of the day!!!