If there is one thing we've learned from movies like Terminator and the Matrix, it's that an artificial robotic intelligence will one day force mankind into a seemingly hopeless battle for its survival. Now a new book by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom
provides detailed arguments in support of your fears of Skynet, and ideas about we might protect ourselves from an A.I. Apocalypse: Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies
. An excerpt at Slate discusses how intelligence could be related to goals: You Should Be Terrified of Superintelligent Machines
. Ron Bailey reviews Bostrom
at Reason Magazine. The Chronicle of Higher Education also has a new article that discusses more than Bostrom's book: Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat? [more inside]
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
A supercomputer has fooled
judges a third of the time
that it is a 13 year old Russian schoolboy named Eugene Goostman
In 1992, the then-young independent British record label Warp Records launched a series entitled Artificial Intelligence. A foray into what the label called “electronic listening music”, the seminal chain of albums forever altered the way electronic music was viewed, written, and heard. At the time, most of the electronic music known to the public was club/rave/dance music. Though this had it’s place, Warp’s founders, Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell, had a vision of electronic music that could be listened to and enjoyed rather than only dance to.
Warp's Artificial Intelligence series revisted
The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win
The challenge is daunting. In 1994, machines took the checkers crown, when a program called Chinook beat the top human. Then, three years later, they topped the chess world, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer besting world champion Garry Kasparov. Now, computers match or surpass top humans in a wide variety of games: Othello, Scrabble, backgammon, poker, even Jeopardy. But not Go. It’s the one classic game where wetware still dominates hardware. [more inside]
Are the robots about to rise? Ray thinks so...
Google has bought almost every machine-learning and robotics company it can find... And it has embarked upon what one DeepMind investor told the technology publication Re/code two weeks ago was "a Manhattan project of AI"... Peter Norvig, Google's research director, said recently that the company employs "less than 50% but certainly more than 5%" of the world's leading experts on machine learning. And that was before it bought DeepMind which, it should be noted, agreed to the deal with the proviso that Google set up an ethics board to look at the question of what machine learning will actually mean when it's in the hands of what has become the most powerful company on the planet.
In late 2012, Ray became Google's new Director of Engineering
, empowering him with extraordinary resources and latitude. [more inside]
Worried about robots? You should be.
Artificial intelligence superior to our own is, by some estimates, only thirty years away. What could possibly go wrong? The answer: everything.
Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, thinks we've lost sight of what artificial intelligence really means. His stubborn quest to replicate the human mind
The Final Moments
of Karl Brant
. "In the near future, a neurologist and two homicide detectives use experimental brain taping technology to question a murder victim about his final moments." [Via]
is an attempt to build a complete cellular-level simulation of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Of the 959 cells in the hermaphrodite, 302 are neurons and 95 are muscle cells. The simulation will model electrical activity in all the muscles and neurons. An integrated soft-body physics simulation will also model body movement and physical forces within the worm and from its environment." -- Bonus: explore the worm's cellular anatomy in 3D
Sarah Polley, previously
, is a Canadian actress and director whose new documentary Stories We Tell
is about her own family's story
. Or stories
. And how storytelling shapes us
Sarah Polley's Meta Masterpiece [more inside]
"She also found herself liking Kermit a lot more than she'd expected to. Anji had never really watched the Muppets before; her parents, like most parents she knew, had treated TV as only slightly less corrupting an influence than refined sugar and gendered toys. But
The Muppet Show was really funny—strange, and kind of hokey, but charming all the same. She ended up watching way more of it than she needed just for the project. "Tomorrow Is Waiting"
, a short science fiction story by Holli Mintzer, published in Strange Horizons
The Smell of Orange Groves.
This short story by Lavie Tidhar
(author of Osama: A Novel
) is part of his Central Station
story cycle, taking place in or around Tel Aviv’s Central Station neighborhood sometime in the future. [more inside]
In 1974, artificial intelligence researchers at Michigan State University made a giant leap forward in computer-aided communication for the handicapped: they used an early text-to-speech system to order a pizza
. Spoiler: Domino's hung up on them. [more inside]
Friendship is Optimal
is not a "My Little Pony" fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals.
Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into "Equestria Online" anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you'll never forget the phrase "satisfy human values through friendship and ponies".
I See What You Did There: Software Uses Video to Infer Game Rules and Achieve Victory Conditions.
A French computer scientist has constructed a system that successfully divines the rules
to simple games just by using video input of human players at work.
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
In 1987 Apple predicted a complex language voice assistant
built into something called the Apple Knowledge Navigator, a tablet computer. With today's announcement of the refined (and integrated) version of Siri
, it appears they were less than a month off.
Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life
of new projects and a print version by December have been made. [more inside]
Stanford's 'Introduction to Artificial Intelligence' course
will be offered
free to anyone online this fall. The course will be taught by Sebastian Thrun
(Stanford) and Peter Norvig
(Google, Director of Research), who expect to deal with the historically large course size using
tools like Google Moderator
. [more inside]
Computer Gets 33% Better at Playing Civilization, By Reading the Manual:
An MIT experiment has apparently succeeded in getting a computer to learn from human-readable, English-language text, the computer extrapolating
useful strategies and tactics from an instruction manual so effectively as to dramatically increase its victory ratio in the Sid Meier universe.
"Milton Babbitt definitely cared if you listen, but according to Noah S. Weber, Emily Howell definitely does not
since it is not possible for Emily Howell to care about anything. However, David Cope, Emily Howell's creator, sees it somewhat differently
." -- Frank J. Oteri
"Welcome to the Zion Archive. You have selected Historical File #12-1: The Second Renaissance.
So begins the short film of the same name by Mahiro Maeda [Flash: 1 2 - QuickTime: 1 2]
-- a devastating yet beautiful work of animation.
Originally produced to explain the backstory behind the Matrix
trilogy, Maeda's project ended up telling a story far darker and more affecting than any blockbuster.
Using a blend of faux documentary footage
and visual metaphor
, his serene Instructor relates in biblical tones the saga of Man and Machine, how age-old cruelty and hatred birthed a horrifying, apocalyptic struggle that consumed the world.
Packed with striking imagery and historical allusions
galore, this dark allegory easily transcends the films it was made for.
But while "The Second Renaissance" is arguably the best work to come from the Matrix
franchise, it's hardly alone -- it's just one of the projects made for The Animatrix
, a collection of nine superb anime films
in a wide variety of styles
designed to explore the universe and broaden its scope beyond the usual sci-fi action of the movies.
Click inside for a guide to these films with links to where they can be watched online, along with a look at The Matrix Comics
, a free series of comics, art, and short fiction created for the same purpose by some
of the best talent in the business. [more inside]
'On the Hunt for Universal Intelligence'
'How do you use a scientific method to measure the intelligence of a human being, an animal, a machine or an extra-terrestrial? So far this has not been possible, but a team of Spanish and Australian researchers have taken a first step towards this by presenting the foundations to be used as a basis for this method in the journal Artificial Intelligence, and have also put forward a new intelligence test.' [more inside]
The 2010 AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment conference hosted a Starcraft AI Tournament
last October, pitting AI algorithms against each other. The winner was the Berkeley Overmind agent
, and one member has written a fascinating article
describing how their AI evolved, how it went up against one of the top SC players in Europe, and eventually won the competition. [more inside]
is perhaps the finest author in contemporary science fiction -- and the most rarefied.
A technical writer by trade and a graduate of the distinguished Clarion Writers Workshop
, Chiang has published only twelve short stories in the last twenty years, one dozen masterpieces of the genre whose insightful, precise, often poetic language confronts fundamental ideas -- intelligence, consciousness, the nature of God -- and thrusts them into a dazzling new light.
Click inside for a complete listing of Chiang's work, with links to online reprints or audio recordings where available, as well as a collection of one-on-one interviews, links to his nonfiction essays, and a few other related sites and articles. [more inside]
Easy AI with Python
. High school-level introduction to a few artificial intelligence concepts, with relatively short open source Python code snippets. [more inside]
's 1984 book, Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology
was a seminal work for its discussion of how one might design a system (biological or otherwise) in order to generate behavior like that seen in beings with brains. He embarks on a series of thought experiments in which he creates thirteen "vehicles"
through simple components that (arguably) display intelligent behavior, evolving in a Darwinian fashion to demonstrate what appears to be high-level cognition. [more inside]
Two AI Pioneers. Two Bizarre Suicides.
Wired's David Kushner examines the work of two young, competitive AI researchers, and the eerie circumstances of their deaths.
A couple of professors, in collaboration with two upcoming IEEE conferences, have organized a Mario A.I. Competition (via)
, inviting programmers to create controllers for a modified version of Infinite Mario Brothers (previously)
. One contender has stepped up and posted a demo of his controller in action
. [more inside]
Research Show Robots Forming Human-like Societies [more inside]
The Autonomous NanoTechnology Swarm
(ANTS) "...is a
generic mission architecture consisting of miniaturized, autonomous, self-similar, reconfigurable, addressable components
forming structures. The components/structures have wide spatial distribution and multi-level organization. This ‘swarm’
behavior is inspired by the success of social insect colonies...."
may one day teem through the solar
.... (last two links large QT files) [more inside]
The AI-Box Experiments.
The hypothesis: "A transhuman can take over a human mind through a text-only terminal." Does Artifical Intelligence create moral monsters
(PDF) ? Can we create friendly AI
Victim of the Brain
A 'docudrama' about Godel, Escher and Bach
author, Douglas Hofstadter
, and philosopher Dan Dennett
produced in 1988. I'm not sure how to describe it, other than incredibly strange and fascinating.
co-founder of Palm
and Handspring, has started a new company, called Numenta
, to test his controversial theory
of intelligence. Whether you find his theory plausible or not, his book
, "On Intelligence
" is fascinating. Numenta is attempting to build A.I.s using Hawkins' theory as a backbone. They've developed a software engine and a Python
-based API, which they've made public (as free downloads
), so that hackers can start playing. They've also released manuals
, a whitepaper
(pdf) and videos [1
]. (At about 30:18 into the first video, Hawkins demonstrates, with screenshots, the first app which uses his system.)
Dr James Anderson, from the University of Reading's computer science department, claims to have defined what it means to divide by zero. It's so simple, he claims, that he's even taught it to high school students
[via Digg]. You just have to work with a new number he calls Nullity
(RealPlayer video). According to Anderson's site The Book of Paragon
, the creation, innovation, or discovery of nullity is a step toward describing a "perspective simplex, or perspex [ . . . ] a simple physical thing that is both a mind and a body." Anderson claims that Nullity permits the definition of transreal arithmetic
(pdf), a "total arithmetic . . . with no arithmetical exceptions," thus removing what the fictional dialogue No Zombies, Only Feelies?
identifies as the "homunculus problem" in mathematics: the need for human intervention to sort out "corner cases" which are not defined.
Detecting the erotic
(like detecting the humorous) is one of those things that people can do better than any known machine. This new patent seems largely based on "Finding Naked People"
, a paper in the field of Computer vision
against the computer & Watch it think.
Pygmalion stories in literature and art.
The myth of the scuptor who fell in love with a statue and prayed for it to be brought to life.
Related :- Galatea
, a piece of interactive fiction which allows you to interact with a interpretation of the living statue (by Emily Short
); Wikipedia entry on the myth.
The Ethics of Deep Self-Modification.
What will happen when machines gain the ability to modify their own psychology? Do we have a responsibility to step in? What happens when we have the ability to modify ourselves
? Philosopher Peter Suber
has dedicated himself to issues of self-modification... not just in psychology, but also in constitutional law
. Small wonder that this is the guy who invented Nomic
. His site is littered with great stuff; he now is primarily involved with the open access movement. Check out his open access primer