Posted by: hksounds | January 1, 2019

Let’s Talk About: AGI, Transhumanism, et al

I have recently become quite interested in the state of AI and the quest for AGI, Artificial General Intelligence, cyborgs, robotics, Transhumanism, etc. There are videos, online classes and many, many articles and books. The ambition is impressive, the objectives, maybe not.

I used to wonder why those large corporations were so intent on stealing people’s personal data. Targeted advertisement didn’t quite seem believable. Then, I learned about the huge need for data in AI development and that databases are copyrighted. It all made a lot more sense.

When you read about AI, you’ll regularly see the claim that they want unbiased AI, one that doesn’t discriminate in the way that humans have done in our current society. But the data is often skewed which means the AI usage of it is not only biased, it may be more biased than the current society due to issues of sampling and the data sources. ” What might an AI involved in legal issues decide, one that has had all data available on the internet and in libraries, including movies and TV? Imagine that AI being involved in making legal decisions while getting its sole understanding of how people resolve differences, which people are likely to be criminals, or who should get parole, from those sources?  Suggested reading – “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil.

There are a number of organizations, both private and public that are working on proposals for ethical design and manufacture of ‘safe’ or ‘friendly,’ ‘trustworthy’ AI,’ including including the European Commission, who has a draft proposal open for public comment until 10 Jan, 2019.

Note, that this ‘ethical framework’ is envisioned to exist within the framework of the existing, unfair, biased and unethical system under the auspices of corporations that have, themselves, faced, and are continuing to face ethical criticism and investigation over privacy violations and the misuse of data, amongst other matters.

Many of the authors are true believers and any ethics devised are coming from the inside, by those who have have already swallowed the kool-aid. It would seem we are witnessing the explosion of a new religion upon the world stage. It comes from the portion of society that is currently dominant, and, regardless of overt intentions, would seem to further the current control and destructive model so deeply embedded in our current civilization.

Many of these AI people seem to hate life, which is variously referred to as “biologics,” “biological agents,” ‘”Life 2.0,'” “substrate” and other disparaging terms. They claim, with no proof, and often not even a pretense of bolstering their position with facts, that their objectives are beneficial and, they all repeat ad nauseam,  to to effect that “the benefits outweigh the downsides/risks.” Their goals, stated so gleefully, sound like pure hell to me. For example, Nick Bostrom’s statement that anything less than the maximum resource extraction from the entire universe, would be failure of AGE. I can’t easily think of anything worse.

And the risks? Well, one that they admit, is just merely the destruction of the human species, and all else, perhaps, as well. “But it’s worth it.” ??? That’s what the say. Hell, no, it’s not worth it nor the billions of dollars spent on it by such mega-entities as Google, FaceBook and the US military.

They seem never to have heard of Black Swans. Or they disparage them as they do all of life, mistaking the name for the reality.

I find it very disturbing that once accepted ways of thinking, that have been discredited, are now resuscitated amongst these proponents. Those ideas include directed evolution, the idea that evolution is a progression from low to high, with humans the pinnacle of evolution. Mind/Body dichotomy wherein the mind is what matters and human’s have the best minds. They have taken the idea that the human mind is the most important thing and then suggest that 4.5 billion years of evolution is meaningless because ‘information’ and calculation are “substrate independent.” – Max Tegmark in “Life 3.0.” Tegmark uses the analogy of the wave form as being substrate independent and extrapolates that to information and then conflates information with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Making no attempt, other than by analogy, to show that they are in fact, the same. I believe such fundamental concepts must be proven in order to be rigorous and to expect people to believe one’s assertions. I haven’t found any examples of that being done. There is a name for these people and ideas: “hubris.” I don’t see many examples of hubris turning out well.

The reading I have done, including articles and books, have that evangelical tone, a willingness to gloss over uncomfortable areas, leaving off scrutiny of details that might derail their projects. Analogies turn into realities. Their premises seem as suspect as their optimism.

The AGI-folks and the Transhumanists seem to be walking the same path – for nowt, but it seems clear that their paths are anything but congruent. The differ in their objectives and in their methods for attaining their goals. Then there are the bio-engineering, CRISPR, cyborg folks, all of whom are currently subsumed under the rubric of “AGI.” I will be interesting to watch what happens when their paths become, not simply different, but at cross-purposes.

I have never been a fan of religion. I am as skeptical of this one as the others.

I will continue keeping an eye on this and I would love to hear from others who are interested and concerned with this subject. There are folks who are worried. I was directed to the series “Black Mirror” and I have started watching from the beginning. They certainly are not joyfully jumping on the AGI bandwagon. Is there anyone out there who cares about this who isn’t a true believer? Anyone who might find this and want to discuss with me?

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