Friday, September 25, 2015


"This is one of the most important topics of our time."
~ Gerry McCartney ~

Things I remember from lectures given last year by
James Barrat ~ Alfredo Canziani
Torbert Rocheford ~ Gene Spafford

1. Essential vocabulary:
event horizon: a point of no return or theoretical boundary beyond which current experience does not count, such as the rim of a black hole
singularity: when machine intelligence becomes capable of self - improvement and surpasses human intelligence

2. Efficiency of Artificial Intelligence vs our "huge mammalian legacy . . .
of kindness (e.g., Mother Theresa)
but also of violence (e.g., Charles Manson)"

3. Components of human thought / AI
philosophical (thinking about thinking)
psycho - pathology
cogno - technolgy
confluence of intelligence
intelligence exposure

4. Some may ask,
"Without biological imperatives, will supercomputers be slackers?"

Barrat foresees "an ingenuity vastly, incomprehensibly greater than our own."

5. On the other hand:
Can a submarine swim?
Can an airplane fly?
Does IBM's Watson think?

6. Improved Automation = Time, which, for humans, is finite and invaluable
Will automation / AI take away jobs? Maybe.
Will automation / AI save lives? Definitely.

7. Is the brain magical? [Yes!]

Consider, for example, the neural pathways:

8. Canziani on "Visual Intelligence"
He described the brain as a "black box" and illustrated it as a Twister Game -- 6 x 4 circles -- with input receptors to the left, and ultimately, an idea emerging on the right. The brain seems to learn by itself, as every circle sends a message to every other circle, some stronger, some weaker, including sensory details and cultural preferences, in addition to references still unknown to us.

Compare the thoughtless ease with which we can walk or run to the halting gait of a video game athlete, whose input is processed in a straight line across the Twister circles, rather than the interwoven intricacy that is human thought.

9. Spafford on "Faster Than Our Understanding":
Humans are teaching machines to think faster.

Initially, as the only species to recall (from a long time ago), anticipate, and communicate in a way that transcends our existence, we recorded data to capture the past for future humans to reflect on. Now, information is processed immediately and sent from one machine to another for current (as well as future) use.

It is increasingly possible to eliminate humans from the loop.

10. Rocheford on "Global Vitamin Enhancement of Maize Grain":
Women farmers will go for smaller yield if the resulting crop is better for the children.
Men tend toward bigger yield, regardless of quality.

Malnourishment = not enough calories
Malnutrition = not enough vitamins

The cruel reality: humans can be simultaneously obese and food insecure

2015 ~ Wisdoom

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