Category Archives: The Future

New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators

The creators of a revolutionary AI system that can write news stories and works of fiction – dubbed “deepfakes for text” – have taken the unusual step of not releasing their research publicly, for fear of potential misuse.

OpenAI, an nonprofit research company backed by Elon Musk, says its new AI model, called GPT2 is so good and the risk of malicious use so high that it is breaking from its normal practice of releasing the full research to the public in order to allow more time to discuss the ramifications of the technological breakthrough.

At its core, GPT2 is a text generator. The AI system is fed text, anything from a few words to a whole page, and asked to write the next few sentences based on its predictions of what should come next. The system is pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible, both in terms of the quality of the output, and the wide variety of potential uses.


Forget the media hype: That Robot Is Not Self-Aware

Toy Robot looking at itself in mirror The way the media cover artificial intelligence (AI), you’d swear they had invented being hopelessly naïve. The problem is, they lead their readers to expect things that aren’t happening and can’t really happen, with the result that some readers may support political solutions and programs that won’t help and may harm them. Jay Richards, an American business prof who keeps up with these things, offers some thoughts:

Chances are, you’ve already seen this headline or one of many like it: “Robot that thinks for itself from scratch brings forward rise the self-aware machines”

It’s from a story first published in The Telegraph (UK), then by Yahoo News and MSN, and then (of course) linked on Drudge. Henry Bodkin, “health and science correspondent” for The Telegraph, tells us, with no hint of caution, that “the rise of “self-aware” robots has come a major step closer following the invention of a machine capable of thinking for itself from scratch, scientists have said.” The first problem with both the headline and the story is confusion. They claim both that the robot under discussion is already self-aware and that it heralds the rise of “self-aware robots” in the future.

Take this bundle of confusion and exaggeration as a harbinger for the next twenty years of reporting on robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s likely to get worse from here. Jay Richards, “That Robot Is Not Self-Aware” at Mind Matters

Also by Jay Richards: A Short Argument Against the Materialist Account of the Mind:

The skinny: Robotics and AI don’t mean that jobs will disappear but rather that the jobs humans do will require human abilities, not just the ability to show up at a repetitive, low-skill job every day. But that transition has been taking place for centuries.

It doesn’t mean that machines are replacing people or becoming like people, though if political power can be gained by claiming so, surely some will claim it.

See also: A computer engineering prof’s Top Ten AI hypes of 2018 (Robert Marks)


Artificial intelligence tool used to catch people who lie to the police

British scientists have developed a new computer programme that can spot if someone has lied to police about being robbed.

The groundbreaking software analyses the wording of a victim’s statement in order to identify tell tale signs of fake reports.

Spanish police, who have been using the tool, found it was successful in more than 80 per cent of cases helping them to identify 64 false reports in just one week.


2018 AI Hype Countdown 5: Computer prof wastes the claim, AI Can Fight Hate Speech!

Robert J. Marks tells us, AI can carry out its programmers’ biases and that’s all:

For example, here is a passage from the writings of Paul (died approximately 62–64 AD), a Jewish convert to Christianity who wrote a number of the books of the New Testament, the basic document of Christianity. At one point, he says, referring to Jews,

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.” (Gal. 3:10).

Now, here’s a passage from Farrakhan:

The Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody. Louis Farrakhan at April 1, 2014, Twitter

A software program might flag both as hate speech against Jews. A thoughtful listener, however, would know that Paul, himself a Jew (and proud of it), was arguing a theological point: If one chooses to try to keep the Law, as set out in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), one must keep all of it, a heavy burden with consequences. Farrakhan, by contrast, is a committed anti-Semite in the ordinary sense of the word, who “continues to spout murderous propaganda” (New York Magazine, 2018) against Jewish people.

If you understand the paragraphs above, you are not a software program. (from “AI help, not hype” series)

See also: 2018 AI Hype Countdown 6: AI Can Even Find Loopholes in the Code! AI help, not hype: AI adopts a solution in an allowed set, maybe not the one you expected.

2018 AI Hype Countdown 7: Computers can develop creative solutions on their own! AI help, not hype, with Robert J. Marks: Programmers may be surprised by which solution, from a range they built in, comes out on top Sometimes the results are unexpected and even surprising. But they follow directly from the program doing exactly what the programmer programmed it to do. It’s all program, no creativity.

2018 AI Hype Countdown 8: AI Just Needs a Bigger Truck! AI help, not hype: Can we create superintelligent computers just by adding more computing power? Some think computers could greatly exceed human intelligence if only we added more computing power. That reminds me of an old story…

2018 AI Hype Countdown 9: Will That Army Robot Squid Ever Be “Self-Aware”? The thrill of fear invites the reader to accept a metaphorical claim as a literal fact.

2018 AI Hype Countdown: 10. Is AI really becoming “human-like”? Robert J. Marks: AI help, not hype: Here’s #10 of our Top Ten AI hypes, flops, and spins of 2018 A headline from the UK Telegraph reads “DeepMind’s AlphaZero now showing human-like intuition in historical ‘turning point’ for AI” Don’t worry if you missed it.


Alexa’s Christmas meltdown burns Turkeys and causes chaos across the UK: Amazon AI assistant crashes struggling with onslaught of new users

Amazon’s Echo smart speakers went down across the country on Christmas Day, with thousands of people reporting that the company’s artificial intelligence assistant Alexa appeared to have gone on a festive break.

People took to social media to log their issues with the device, which included Alexa being telling users she was ‘having trouble understanding’ and to ‘please try a little later’.

Multilingual Alexa, who has more than 70,000 different skills, told over 100 million jokes in 2018, but people were less than impressed with her Christmas day stunt.


If tech experts worry about artificial intelligence, shouldn’t you?

Fifty years ago last Sunday, a computer engineer named Douglas Engelbart gave a live demonstration in San Francisco that changed the computer industry and, indirectly, the world. In the auditorium, several hundred entranced geeks watched as he used something called a “mouse” and a special keypad to manipulate structured documents and showed how people in different physical locations could work collaboratively on shared files, online.

It was, said Steven Levy, a tech historian who was present, “the mother of all demos”. “As windows open and shut and their contents reshuffled,” he wrote, “the audience stared into the maw of cyberspace. Engelbart, with a no-hands mic, talked them through, a calm voice from Mission Control as the truly final frontier whizzed before their eyes.” That 1968 demo inspired a huge new industry based on networked personal computers using graphical interfaces, in other words, the stuff we use today.


People keep attacking Waymo’s autonomous cars

When I landed in Phoenix, Arizona, last month, to be one of the first members of the public to ride in a Waymo One driverless minivan, a funny thing happened on the way to the demo from the airport. My driver explained, with a guilty laugh, how you could screw with Waymo cars on the road: stopping in front of them abruptly, or merging into their lane to run them off to the shoulder.

It wasn’t a confession, per se, but it was pretty clear from the conversation that he was speaking from experience…

Wait till they start fighting back.


Why your pizza may never be delivered by drone

For years tech companies such as Amazon, Alphabet and Uber have promised us delivery drones bringing goods to our doorsteps in a matter of minutes. So why are they taking so long to arrive?

One word: regulation.

If our skies are to become as crowded as our streets, airspace rules need updating to prevent accidents, terrorist attacks, and related problems, such as noise pollution.


New York Magazine article claims Uber is failing

Well, at least listen. From Yves Smith:

By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses — this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?

The notion that Uber, the most highly valued private company in the world, is a textbook “bezzle” — John Kenneth Galbraith’s coinage for an investment swindle where the losses have yet to be recognized — is likely to come as a surprise to its many satisfied customers. But as we’ll explain, relying on the extensive work of transportation expert Hubert Horan, Uber’s investors have been buying your satisfaction in the form of massive subsidies of services. More.

Reality check: Uber, he says, is subsidized by the fact that drivers really make only about $10/hr and have not factored in the cost of the use of their cars. Also, it’s all a physical business, not a digital business, which means dealing with down time, etc. We’ll see. But not everything can be digitized.

See also: Is a bad “AI Winter” looming? Artificial intelligence crashes and busts are historically common.


Who does the concept of “intellectual property” really benefit? Was traditional copyright law meant to protect algorithms that decide people’s financial fate?


In Sweden, cash is almost extinct and people implant microchips in their hands to pay for things

Few countries have been moving toward a cashless society as fast as Sweden. But cash is being squeezed out so quickly — with half the nation’s retailers predicting they will stop accepting bills before 2025 — that the government is recalculating the societal costs of a cash-free future.