“Life 3.0, which can design not only its software but also its hardware. In other words, Life 3.0 is the master of its own destiny, finally fully free from its evolutionary shackles.”
In “Life 3.0 - Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark
See how good your PC is as it ages or you want to install a better graphics card, does the driver play nice with everything? Are you competent enough to sort it out or are you the sort of person who offloads that to IT? The guys in IT are like ducks or swans, all seems serene on the surface but underneath they are paddling hard to stay afloat. They are one badly written security update away from disaster. Do they install the latest security patch or wait for others to see what happens? Also, the more complex a system becomes the more subject it is to critical failures from minor changes, the more they become like having 100 spinning plates on the go at once. If your bank's computer goes belly up just as the proceeds from your house sale are sailing through the system from one solicitor to another is there enough of a data trail to prove it existed? Do you feel lucky? In this day and age, when the state-of-affairs is like the one I’m describing above, can we still talk about AI?
I remember reading Roger Penrose's “Emperor of the New Mind” a long time ago. It was a 500 page long systematic destruction of the claim that AI is even possible... which, as best as I could discern, concluded that AI was not possible because the neurons in the brain are quantum mechanical systems with quantum mechanical bridges, yielding inherently unpredictable outcomes as opposed to the 1s and 0s of then traditional computing. The problem with this, of course, is that we are now in the realm of quantum computing. More recently I read a couple of more recent books exploring the AI topic, one by Pedro Domingos called “The Master Algorithm” and the other by James Tagg called “Are the Android Dreaming Yet?”. What runs deep in Tegmark’s, Tagg’s and Domingos’ books is simply the fact that a lot of stuff being touted in the media as AI is not really AI. When you know the AI field and know how it works, human intelligence appears so superior still in so many ways. A lot of what is touted as AI is pretty much smoke and mirrors - relying on human intelligence to make it seem real. Yes, we have some impressive point solutions (image recognition, self-driving cars) and a couple of great neural approaches with more general applications (ConvNets, LSTMs), but the media have run away with the notion that we've cracked it. Not so. The trouble with informed predictions of the future is that they are almost always wrong. Remember the “End of History”? A book touting the final triumph of liberal democracy and rationality. That bit of prediction lasted 10 years before 9/11 changed the rules. All of data-ism ultimately rests on the willingness of people to buy things; it rests on the planet not burning up; it rests on modern medicine continuing to deliver the goods and antibiotics continuing to work. It rests on no disruptions caused by (say) mass migration due to war, water shortages and famine. The data network, like the financial system which has demonstrated its fallibility so clearly, is both immensely powerful when it works, and very fragile when hit by an external shock. In other words, prediction based on the assumption that things will continue as they are at the moment require a big leap of faith.
Can I 'opt out' of smart phones? I'm thinking it's going to become increasingly difficult to maintain that position of not using the smartphone to do transactions online as more and more 'transactions' are carried out using this technology. Responsive web-sites are already annoying because they are not really responsive, they are optimised for smaller screens (rendering their use on a 'normal' screen seem like playing at a Learning Centre). But looking at some of the financial transaction features that are being developed, I wonder how long I am going to be able to continue to use the old ways of doing things. If a shop decides to use this technology exclusively, then I can 'choose' another shop, if they all do it, I'm buying a smart phone whether I like it or not. To illustrate my point try bartering a sheep for a frock from FNAC. I’m not stating that people should return to bartering, i.e., I’m using its decline as an illustration of my point which is that that there comes a point where you can no longer opt out of things or choose not to engage. We reach a tipping point and you have to follow the crowd otherwise you cannot participate in society. For example: at the moment, I can do perfectly well without a smart phone for certain things. If smart phone companies make it too easy to pay for things with a smart phone (technology currently in development) and enough people use their smart phones to pay for goods in shops then some shops stop accepting payment by plastic card. Eventually all shops jump on the band-wagon and save the expense of a card reader. I can no longer opt out of a smart phone because I can no longer pay for goods in a shop. Viz, the last person who tried to go into a shop and exchange something for a sheep.
But can we objectify and/or replicate consciousness? That’s the name of the game! Consciousness is All. The motor of all manifestations in the material world. Matter and machines are simply among the densest forms and expressions of energy, frequency and vibration. As consciousness, you are the inner observer to the human that you (consciousness) physically appear to be, and that you (consciousness) experience the world through. As such, you are not the phenomenon, you are the noumenon as Kant would put it. You are not the appearance, you are the aware presence. You are not the manifestation, you are its essence. The eye cannot see itself; neither can the (intangible) mind. Mind is, then, like a sixth sense. The mind appears within consciousness—as all sensations and perceptions do. Mind is a phenomenal appearance within your presence of awareness, which is the noumenon of your entire sense-of-being. You are consciousness - not a body or a brain. Not a mind, nor its memories. Not its perceptions, nor its experiences—because all such things appear within awareness. As awareness, you are Absolute. The mind-body is an object of consciousness...
I do believe that AIs with "Deep Learning" architecture are and will continue to change everyday lives - some old jobs will go the way of the dodo, while other new jobs will emerge, and how people are educated will change, to name a few. However, and I say this as an avid SF reader, I find some of the points in Tegmarks’ book and its posturing quite fragile. No doubt, changes are coming. However, “Je mehr sich verändert, desto mehr bleibt sich gleich.” And, I will still enjoy a walk along the beach - however, no bundle of bits and bytes will be able to tell me why and which beach… At least it's fair to say AI will never feel emotions. I would love to see the world in 50 years from now; tiny internal chips encircling our bodies analysing our health, no physical money, people borrowing not from banks but direct from the Old Lady, alcohol banned and replaced by marijuana. A world where Internet scammers are hung drawn and quartered publicly. Ahhh Eutopia! With a surveillance camera in every room I will be able to take my little green pill and sleep well in the knowledge that Big Brother is watching over me.
I'm sure the universe and AIs entities will muddle along somehow once us pesky humans are gone.