No, AI Won't Kill Us All - InformationWeek

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2/24/2015
10:31 AM
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No, AI Won’t Kill Us All

When famous technologists and scientists fear the menace of thinking machines, it's time to worry, right? Not really, because computers lack the imagination to wreak havoc, says one AI expert.
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(Image: No comparison: Kasparov versus Deep Blue via Stanford University)

(Image: No comparison: Kasparov versus Deep Blue via Stanford University)

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vnewman2
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vnewman2,
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2/24/2015 | 12:54:27 PM
I am human hear me roar
I always tell the masses here at the firm when they complain their system is doing this or that and how it "should know" - be glad it doesn't. I tell them the computer is only as smart as it is programmed to be and therefore YOU are smarter than the computer - otherwise it wouldn't need anyone there to provide any input to tell it what to do. It would just know. And YOU would be out of a job if that were the case.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2015 | 9:32:17 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@ vnewman2. I agree. If computers were as smart as technologies have indicated, we will all be out of jobs.  I agree that this fear is overblown.   I really believe that technologists should focus on problems which are nearby, not hypothetical problems, some of these include youth unemployment, increasing healthcare cost and stagnant salaries. If our country have youth with not hope for the future and nothing nothing, I take the AI robots any time

 
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2015 | 11:24:15 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@Pedro, I can't tell you the number of research reports I've seen in the past year about job market trends stating the one major trend beind that automation is taking jobs. Whether that automation is based on robots or some other form of computing, the threat of people losing jobs is real. We won't ALL be out of jobs. The side effect appears that this trend creates more higher-end jobs for the educated, but these additions in no way make up for the losses at the other end of the job spectrum.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2015 | 11:46:13 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@broadway: I agree. I read in a blog that a person was arguing that the employees who lost their jobs can learn how to control and manage the automation systems. What he/she didn't realize is that it would create unnecessary competition and wasting of resources. Also it would take ten times lesser people to manage the automation systems than the actual labourer count. So the equation remains unbalanced.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 9:08:29 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@broadway.  I understand those concerns and have read many articles which support what you have.  But, there isn't much we can do, is it . If companies are introducing such technology in the workplace, as people in these changing times, the only thing we can do is adapt and accept what is coming to us.  I don't see any news that our government plans to do something to change this trend.        
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 10:37:21 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
Look, really the only thing people can do is keep themselves educated and trained in a field that's in demand. Government should make sure this education is available and affordable.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
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2/25/2015 | 12:24:30 AM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@vnewman2: Nice take on the complaining masses. There aren't any happy endings while dealing with computers which fail at times we don't expect it too (yes, BlueScreen Of Death I am talking to you too). But I'm just glad it isn't intelligent enough to replace us.
Resource
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Resource,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2015 | 9:27:30 AM
Re: I am human hear me roar
The problem is not that computers with AI will wreak their evil will, it is that the humans directing them can (and have) used it to amplify their feeble human powers.   Computers are amplifiers of human intention -- for good or for  ill
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
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2/25/2015 | 1:50:17 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
For me, my fear is that if we create an entity that hooks up to the Internet, what are the possible ramifications if it gets into industrial computer systems.  I'm thinking more CLU from Tron here, would it be possible for an AI who is created to make decisions about systems (such as an AI system that is dedicated to reacting proactively to manage internal IT systems for critical infrastructure) to reach out and decide that it can make beneficial changes to systems where it honestly shouldn't even connect to.

I guess we could call it AI sprawl.  We're not there, but theoretically, is there a risk there of AI slipping into interconnected systems and hijacking them?
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2015 | 2:04:36 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
Interesting counter view from Sam Altman, expressing his concern on this blog here: http://blog.samaltman.com/machine-intelligence-part-1

Two points jumped out to me: 

"We also have a bad habit of changing the definition of machine intelligence when a program gets really good to claim that the problem wasn't really that hard in the first place (chess, Jeopardy, self-driving cars, etc.).  This makes it seems like we aren't making any progress towards it." 

And:

"But it's very possible that creativity and what we think of us as human intelligence are just an emergent property of a small number of algorithms operating with a lot of compute power."
tzubair
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tzubair,
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2/25/2015 | 2:35:15 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
"would it be possible for an AI who is created to make decisions about systems (such as an AI system that is dedicated to reacting proactively to manage internal IT systems for critical infrastructure) to reach out and decide that it can make beneficial changes to systems where it honestly shouldn't even connect to"

@Stratustician: I think the use of AI for managing internal IT systems can be useful but it will have its own set of restrictions. You may make decisions in the run time such as how to manage the VMs when the load goes up or how to switch to an alternate network when a failure occurs, but when it comes to changing physical configurations, this won't be as easy.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:30:19 AM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@ vnewman2

I bet those people are the same ones who believe a computer can not make mistakes. I have actually had to explain that "the data the computer is using to give you information was put into the computer by a human being, who of course could very well have mad a mistake". Sometimes that explanation worked, and other times it turned into a whole new "argument".
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/28/2015 | 11:54:39 AM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@StacyE- Interestingly enough, we're starting to get computers that can digest information without human intervention. Of course, they still rely on humans to program them so ultimately the humans can still make a mistake. But I wonder if our relationship with computer mistakes will change when that is more common.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2015 | 5:41:09 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@ David

This is a very good point, but like you said, the chance for human error still exists through the programming. I think it would be a little scary (to say the least) if the computers started creating and programming each other and elliminated its need for human interaction.

 

BTW David, I emailed tech support several weeks ago and never heard back from them. It appears I am still not getting notification emails when my posts are replied to directly. Could you do me a favor and reply to this one to see if maybe they have fixed it in the mean time?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/30/2015 | 1:04:32 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@StacyE- It is true. If they start programming themselves, I guess you have to worry. But I'd like to think somewhere in the back of all that is a seed our our programming. Of course, each generation gets a little farther away from the original and less like our intent. Hrm...sounds like what we need is an off switch like with the droids in Star Wars Episode 1. :)
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2015 | 1:47:34 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@ David

Yes, at that point we would definitely need a kill switch!!!

 

And, I did finally get an email notification about 1:00 pm today for your reply, and a couple more showed up as well! It seems to be fixed! (Knock on wood). Thanks for your help!!
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
3/2/2015 | 6:26:57 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@StaceyE - What a great point. And this is where we can see how overly-reliant we've become on technology and computers - to the point where it arguably makes dumbs us all down a bit (no need to even know how to spell any longer with the advent of spell check/autocorrect/google). The absolute worst for me is when someone calls stark raving mad because they are at a "work-stoppage" because one thing on their system isn't "working." Just one example that pops into mind, if double-clicking on a file won't open, why not try opening the program first then browsing to the file and see if that works instead of calling the poor on-call help desk person in the middle of the night and screaming at them? Or instead of printing out 100 copies on your printer when it's low on toner when you're working at midnight on a deadline why not print one copy and go to the copy machine? Technology has robbed many of common sense and given people tunnel vision.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
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3/2/2015 | 6:28:11 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
We work soley in a Citrix environment - we have few local apps. Every night it is necessary to right-click the Citrix icon, log off your sessions, then it is good measure to click Start, Restart. I can't tell you how many people just leave documents open for weeks on end and are surprised (and enraged at us) when the Citrix session finally fails to reconnect and their docs are shot into oblivion. It doesn't matter how many training sessions we offer or how many email reminders we send. It's not a mystery. It is how the system works. But for some reason people believe the computers "should just work" regardless of whether or not they follow the rules. It's shocking to me even though I should be used to it by now!
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2015 | 1:59:47 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@vnewman2

I have been there for sure! We used a software in our company a decade ago (if I remember right it was from Citrix) that allowed us to share files with our out of state offices. One woman in our office refused to close it out when she was done and thought it should just continue running well no matter how long she left it running idle. Then, when she did shut down her PC she would hit the power button on the box and do a hard shut down every time. Every time she restarted her PC she wanted to know why she got the screen telling her that Windows did not shut down correctly. Like you said, no matter how many times she was told or shown she still didn't think she REALLY needed to do things a certain way.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2015 | 1:53:46 PM
Re: I am human hear me roar
@vnewman2

I could not agree with you more! People have become lazy because of the convenience of technology. I home school my kids and a couple years ago my daughter had to go take a state math test and one of the items she was REQUIRED to bring to the test was a calculator!! When I was in school it would have been straight to the principals office if you got caught using a calculator during a test. I guess, now, they are teaching kids how to use technology to find an answer rather than their brains!
TerryB
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TerryB,
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2/24/2015 | 1:39:34 PM
Wishful Thinking
The scientist sounds exactly like the guy that invented SkyNet. It wasn't created to do bad things either. I'm struggling to understand the difference in imagination and faulty logic.

His only point which is absolutely true is we are light years from creating AI we have to be scared of yet. But in longer run, I don't think it is out of realm of "analyzing data" that a computer might conclude something would work better with humans out of the loop.  And that something might be existence. :-)
DR WILL
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DR WILL,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2015 | 9:38:22 AM
Re: Wishful Thinking
It is possible that consciousness is an emergent property that occurs with the proper (or more advanced) programming of the substrate (be it flesh or silicon). Most parts of our brain are not conscious. Some parts are due to several forms of memory that are linked and replayed in parallel with anticipation and predictive algorithms that keep our past available, with working memory providing an apparent "present", and frontal lobe scenarios looking into the future. Out of all this arises over time, with with modifications, our identity. It takes yrs for an infant to achieve this using a 100 billion neurons. Theoretically, it should be possible to do it in silicon.

The biggest question is what "modalities" will the computer have? Will it see color, hear sound, feel pain. feel sad, etc?

W. D. Niemi, PhD

 

 
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 2:24:43 PM
Re: Wishful Thinking
"But in longer run, I don't think it is out of realm of "analyzing data" that a computer might conclude something would work better with humans out of the loop.  And that something might be existence."

@TerryB: I think the fact that a computer can become so smart that it starts "thinking" that humans should be taken out can really exist in science fiction. I don't think this is anywhere close to being a reality. Not at least something that any human should be afraid of.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/24/2015 | 4:05:31 PM
From where will computers get their paranoia?
TerryB, for computers to conclude that something would work better with humans out of the way, they'd need to be both competitive and paranoid. That is, they'd need to understand that they were in a competition for resources with humans and conclude that they were likely to lose out if they don't get rid of humans. Such thinking, to me, is the exclusive domain of the human race and can't be projected onto computers, even AI machines.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
2/24/2015 | 5:21:17 PM
Re: From where will computers get their paranoia?
Good point, Charlie. I think the people who imagine that AI might be a threat tend to be those who can imagine all the sorts of nefarious things that humans are capable of. Suspicious minds, as Elvis would have it.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2015 | 11:52:00 PM
Re: From where will computers get their paranoia?
@charlie: Technologists often dream about a day where independent AI would be able to work side by side with humans without attempting to replace them because lets face it, AIs would become way more powerful in the next 50 years and it is not long before a self learning AI would be developed and it can learn through experiences. An AI as advanced as the human brain cannot be made until a hundred years, but after that is accomplished, I think there would be a lot of flexibility between humans and AI.
TerryB
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TerryB,
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2/25/2015 | 2:46:27 PM
Re: From where will computers get their paranoia?
Charlie, I guess I was thinking about programming for the computer to protect itself, the "self awareness" you see in so many movies. My favorite example is in Eagle Eye, where the Big Brother computer discovered the humans wanted to unplug him. He took care of that problem. :-)

Again, I want to be clear I'm being very tongue in cheek discussing this. We are nowhere near the level of programming in AI where what I describe above is feasible. And it is quite possible we will never get there. But in case we do, I sure hope the scientists have watched these movies....
Resource
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Resource,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2015 | 3:53:55 PM
Re: From where will computers get their paranoia?
The original for that self-protective behavior was "Colossus, the Forbin Project", a made-for-TV movie that came out in the 1950s.   The human machine manager did defeat him, though.   An interesting monument to Cold War paranoia.
Resource
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Resource,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2015 | 3:53:56 PM
Re: From where will computers get their paranoia?
The original for that self-protective behavior was "Colossus, the Forbin Project", a made-for-TV movie that came out in the 1950s.   The human machine manager did defeat him, though.   An interesting monument to Cold War paranoia.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:33:07 AM
Re: From where will computers get their paranoia?
@ Charlie

I agree with you completely. I don't think a computer will ever have the capability of that type of conciousness...even if someone tried to progrm it in....
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 4:30:29 PM
report
"12 risks that threaten human civilization," according to a new report from...
I thought for a moment there that report was from The Onion.
Anyway, I agree with Dr. Adjaoute, the threat of AI is "vastly overblown."
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 11:30:57 AM
You can still have havoc without imagination
Any AI system might lack the imagination to become a movie style super villian, but a minor flaw in the 'learning' portion of an AI system could cause havoc. The movies take these ideas to the Nth degree where rthe 'logical' conclusion is to delete the humans so the self aware computer may continue. What if a learning AI system decided to increase traffic efficiency by eliminating yellow lights over 20 city blocks? There could be hundreds of injuries or deaths or before it 'learned' that humans don't have instant reaction time. At any point where an entity learns and applies that information there is the possibility for havoc if the learning isn't complete. In humans we call this growing up and it takes a long time with lots of supervision and during that time the ones growing up rarely have control over any kind of critical computer system. While it might not even be possible to develop an evil computer like Hal, it seems like it might be entirely possible to create something where havoc could ensue.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/28/2015 | 12:30:23 AM
Re: You can still have havoc without imagination
This might be an oversimplification, but I've always felt like anything we program would have our general respect for life as a part of the programming. Or that, at worst, we could create the "good" AI to fight the "bad" AI someone else made. I feel like AI is more of a battleground than a threat.
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:36:15 AM
Re: You can still have havoc without imagination
I think any type of AI that could potentially make decisions like you describe very scary. 
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