Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lo and Behold

Watched Lo and Behold today and there was a lot to ponder about. It's hard to go a week without reading something about AI taking us over much like in episodes of Black Mirror. This documentary traverses the path from the beginning of the internet in UCLA in 1969 to the present with a variety of experts weighing in on what the future holds.

I found this simple explanation Elon Musk provided in the movie very helpful in clarifying where the problem with AI lies

“I think that the biggest risk is not that the AI will develop a will of its own but rather that it will follow the will of people that establish its utility function.” 

He goes on to illustrate his point with an example

“If it is not well thought out—even if its intent is benign—it could have quite a bad outcome. If you were a hedge fund or private equity fund and you said, ‘Well, all I want my AI to do is maximize the value of my portfolio,’ then the AI could decide, well, the best way to do that is to short consumer stocks, go long defense stocks, and start a war.”

The most beautiful and memorable part of the movie was the segment where Ted Nelson was speaking of his epiphany at age five that formed the basis of his life's work. 

Nelson's use of language as he describes this event makes the best case for technology related disciplines benefiting tremendously from a strong humanities background. I could not help wanting to show this video to anyone student of humanities who ever said they are not good with math and science.

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