How did that digital thinker think?
I happened upon an intriguing article over at brooders.net titled: How would a machine think? Probably not like us...
It seems like so long ago that I was entertaining these exact thoughts, latching onto the Sapir-Worf hypothesis to confirm my intuitions about the cognitive nature of language, before I found out their particular research was bunk.
I remember writing about how representations of AI have been woefully lacking in truly imagining the limitations and expanded possibilities of a machine mind. My story ‘Press Any Key’ was based on this very thought, but it is clear to me know how much this is in need of an update.
So I dug this out of the trashcan, on Wed Aug 04, 2004 some thoughts of mine on how that digital thinker might think!
...Think about it, we're operating on the instructions of human 95, a scared, individualistic, reproductive survival machine. That is what we were built for (if you believe in evolution) however long ago, and we get patches and updates (biologically) as often as Windows.
Greed, jealousy, selfishness, are all products of a survival mechanism built in to keep the whole human race going. But our cognitive applications have evolved faster than our hardware can keep up. We have much more of an emphasis on how we use our brains, and as such we get fat, contract heart-disease and die. Our hardware is still operating on the idea that we run 50 miles a day to get dinner.
So now turn to AI (I'd say DI but it isn't as catchy). It has no such biological limitations. It's hardware is only limited by our ability to invent it. I have yet to see a movie that accurately depicts an artificially intelligent being, (maybe T2). Why? Because like the self-loving gods that we are we shape them in our own image. I tend to think that emotions are a biological product of a certain arrangement of chemicals. Before we attached meaning and significance to them they were designed to get the job done, (it's much easier to kill when you're angry). But don't ask me what depression is for. "Crying is a puzzler"
So there is no reason to assume that they are necessary to intelligence and as such why an AI would have them. Considering that AI does not have the same biological heritage as ourselves there is also no reason to assume that it would posses the same left-overs. The inherent selfishness, and greed that is apart of being human (which isn't to say, love and compassion aren't also parts) would not be necessarily present in AI.
AI characters which emulate these characteristics (i.e. 'angry' robots in I Robot) are due to a poverty of the imagination. We are so used to humanity, that we find it difficult to imagine an emotionless intelligence. To our way of thinking, someone without any emotion is a very ill-minded person.
The consequences of realistically envisaging the AI construct are numerous and intriguing. Suppose we had a suitable default AI receptacle. A hard drive with sensory input devices and output devices. Also suppose that any particular AI could be loaded onto any particular machine, the greatest of all human traits might then be non-existent. And that is an unwavering attachment to our own particular vessels. Imagine a being that had no such hang-up, that they knew if one was broken that could always to uploaded to another. What kind of ramifications would that have for the thought processes of AI?
Would it lead to an infinite amount of Smith-like duplicates? No, I don't think so. The primal urge for reproduction is also lost. All the emotional crap that clouds our vision of reality would disappear. I'd like to think these beings would have a very Zen-like appreciation of our world. But of course, what value is there in a creature that can never be happy?
Police admit no terrorist evidence on Jack Thomas
"Is there any evidence at all that Mr Thomas, has, (at) any stage, planned any particular terrorist acts in Australia?" asked the federal magistrate Graham Mowbray.
Mr Jabbour: "No sir, there's no direct evidence of that."
So there we have it. We have interviews conducted without legal aid and with application of or the threat of torture, but nothing to actually suspect Thomas has any plans to conduct a terrorist act in Australia.
I'm not saying Thomas is innocent, there may be good reason to be very suspicious of someone who receives funds from Al Qaeda, however terrorists threats are not existential threats. They do not put the existence of civilization at risk, there is no great army who is going to occupy our country.
Automotive fatalities are more of an existential threat than terrorism. It is ideological warfare and by pandering to fear governments are playing the game by their rules. A game no-one wins, because having your fellow citizens blown up or your civil liberties stripped does not suddenly make you think how corrupt and sinful western liberal civilization is and gee, wouldn't it be better if we had an Islamic state.
Why do the governments do it then? I think it's because the government who plays down the terrorist threat and calls for reason looks weak on national security and is voted out of office. Circular, isn’t it?
In last month's control order proceedings, the court heard from the Federal Government's chief general counsel, Henry Burmester, QC, that the likelihood of Mr Thomas committing a terrorist act was irrelevant to the application for a control order.
The test for issuing the order, that it "substantially assist in preventing a terrorist act", should be interpreted broadly, Mr Burmester said.
"In our submission, something can substantially assist in preventing a terrorist act or something else without the need to show that the terrorist act or the particular conduct is likely to happen or not," he said.
"If I could give your Honour an example," he said. "If one is out in the country, and there's a quiet country road, clearly looking right and left will substantially assist in preventing being hit by a car, but there might be a reasonably small chance that this would occur."
May offer another example? Castrating School Teachers and priests will substantially assist in preventing children being abused even there is a reasonably small chance this would occur.
Hell why not castrate all men in general? The probability of abuse is very small in relation to the size of those affected but just think how substantially we are assisting in preventing child abuse. You are not for child abuse are you? If we don’t do this, the child abusers win.
Innocent until proven guilty means that in a fair and just society no one is subject to control orders or any violation of liberty without a public demonstration of the evidence that warrants it so as to protect the rest of society.
We talk about spreading democracy. If democracy means oppressing a minority to placate the unreasoned fears of a manipulated majority then they ought to send it back.
From one, emerges manifold things
New track, titled ‘Inner Orbit.’ Rock beats, electric guitar inspired lead solo, uplifting melodic trance. Sounds incongruous? Give it a listen.
The bulk of this song was made in one four hour session, with the rest finished the next day. The way creativity seems to function for me is in sudden hits like this, even though it may utilize ideas I’ve been working on for months.
Perhaps it functions best only when my hypercritical faculties are mollified, for after the act of creation, the work never seems to be as good as it was and I have to resist the urge to tamper to the point of destruction in a Frankensteinian manner.
The degree of my mistake phobia is such that even if something of my doing is given high praise and accolades it is always far from perfect and considered a draft or ‘work in progress.’
Soon this blog will be relocating to a new website. If I can assault myself sufficiently enough to ‘finish’ it, that is.
Cyberpunk is an open idea. It is a term that has been in dispute since it’s inception with every work dedicated to it taking up the burden of attempting to explain it. I think as a genre it is a highly consensual term. That is, what is determined as being firmly cyberpunk or barely cyberpunk depends on the consensus of the people who use the term. This is what gives the word it’s open and complex nature.
However complexity & integrity are two different things. It is naïve of me or anyone else to think that any message that people want to hear won’t be appropriated by mainstream channels and fanatics bemoan the days when their music or whatever was ‘sold out’
I don’t even think it is sensible to talk of a genre ‘selling out’ because how can you control artists who choose that form to express themselves? I’m not sure there even ever was a time when Cyberpunk wasn’t in some sense sold-out with ambivalence not just to technology but the market machine that creates the technology.
Cyberpunk is complex because it has elements that can exist completely independent of one another. A film may be cyberpunk purely because of its aesthetics, another for its philosophy and another because of its political point of view.
Science Fiction in general is a neutral genre, its focus is on connections between the present on the future, usually technologically related. It is ripe with political oriented fiction because in analyzing the present to create the future authors have to decide on the eventualities of current political ideologies.
Cyberpunk as a sub genre of science fiction can hardly be described as politically neutral and I believe never should be. I think integrity is important because cyberpunk has its roots in focusing on the alienated and the disenfranchised, the people on the fringes of society and the dystopias created by imbalances in wealth & power. To have integrity then fiction that is described as having cyberpunk politics should be representing this point of view. I don’t think we should consent to the use of the term in describing fiction that abandon’s this view, regardless of whether a film has a giant add for Converse shoes in it or not (ala ‘I, Robot’.)
However, I could imagine that in order to accommodate the complexity of the term one might want to distinguish between say, cyberpunk politics, cyberpunk philosophy and cyberpunk aesthetics etc. So that a narrative that focus on the question of humanity through technological change is not denied the label just because it ignores aesthetics and politics. Though, this might just further confuse things.
Under this view cyberpunk is not too open but perhaps too specific. Requiring too many disparate elements. Why not retrospectively label George Orwell’s ‘1984’ as cyberpunk even though there is no internet, hackers, cyborgs or corporatocracies to speak of? Is it perhaps because of the specific commonalties of early cyberpunk (eg. similar depictions of the social fragmentation caused by the use of the internet/virtual reality etc.) that some regard the genre as outdated and irrelevant?
I think I was probably mistaken in asking how cyberpunk can regain it’s political rebelliousness as I’m not sure it’s ever had it (in terms of having more than ambivalence toward late capitalism). But I think it should have it, as I have my own political point of view and agenda of course but I regard it as one of the best genres to express this point of view.
‘Cyberpunk’ is an open term; it is complex however if we consent to its use on works of fiction too disparate, too thinly related it becomes so open that it is meaningless. Thus it depends on the integrity of its fans, authors and critics as to what they regard as the future of cyberpunk.