Well look at this.

Wouldn’t it be nice to possess a supermarket that is intrinsically equipped with automated facilities for product distribution instead of relying on the sweat of a human worker? Bezos’ Amazon apparently thinks so. The proposed supermarket may span dimensions as much as two or more sq. miles.

What future implications this reserves for jobs can be estimated…they are disappearing. Automation would be an awesome development if people did not need money to survive.

 

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I have just finished reading the final chapters of Annie Jacobsen’s The Pentagon’s Brain, a well-assembled book on the history of the Pentagon’s Defense and Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and am astounded at the potentialities our men and women of science are creating.

DARPA, as you may know, is the institution attributed with the conception of the internet, the Castle-Bravo hydrogen bomb, super-computers, and mobile robots. It is veritably the fountain of this nation’s most advanced technologies – most of which are released to the public domain at least 20 years AFTER their invention.

The book will inform on the many contributions to civilization DARPA has made while  alluding (in the final chapters) that the 2013 BRAIN initiative signed into effect by Obama is purposed to not only study the neural networks of human brains for the derivation of healthful benefits to mankind, but to create killer machines that can operate with the plasticity of a human brain.

Let us not forget that DARPA is an institution for the development of DEFENSIVE (i.e. warfare) weapons and equipment.

Now, I am not stating unequivocally that this initiative will ultimately bring forth the seeds of human destruction. What I mean to convey here is the reality that a new arms race between nations of power is in its incipient stages. Warfare is departing from the conventional means of powder and shell to cyber-based weapons and electronic systems of defense.

What might our enemies produce? It is this question that impels one to consider the necessity of inventing machines that may compose the dirge of our existence. . . Oh what a thought.

To paraphrase Jacobsen, in a world of technology, it is not the fittest who are suited to survive, but the intelligent. Take this with emphasis as the world of intelligent machines unfolds into the human domain.

Inspired by human neural networks, a computer science team in Wyoming has made a mega leap in AI editing of images. As a demonstration of what this AI can do, an array of celebrity photos featuring rather apathetic faces has been autonomously modified to feature smiling faces instead. To see the AI at work go here.

http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/20/14022958/ai-image-manipulation-creation-fakes-audio-video

Public Intelligence has recently made available to the common domain a 50+ page executive report on artificial intelligence.

This report, authored by members of the National Science and Technology Council, confirms that the advances made in artificial intelligence will continue to be integrated into the current fabric of society. In other words, AI isn’t going away but rather AI is predicted to become smarter and exceedingly ubiquitous.

Some are optimistic in dreaming of the potential outcomes, economic or otherwise, that may be fostered by this newfound digital consciousness:

“AI holds the potential to be a major driver of economic growth and social progress, if industry, civil society, government, and the public work together to support development of the technology with thoughtful attention to its potential and to managing its risks.”

Risks…What risks?

Oh you know, the usual…like “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems” akin to the murderous drones out of the movie Oblivion.

Not to mention the AI induced demon of major economic problems. For instance, the report conveys

“that the negative effect of automation will be greatest on lower wage jobs, and that there is a risk that AI driven automation will increase the wage gap between less-educated and more-educated workers, potentially increasing economic inequality.”

So burger-flippers are bound to be eliminated from the contemporary venue of fast-food service and relegated to more…dignified tasks? I sincerely doubt the notion.

The final creation of AI that exceeds human intelligence literally marks the inception of an unprecedented form of consciousness, a subject/object we are still trying to understand. So if we do not yet understand consciousness itself, how then might we predict the ramifications of a novel conscious entity?

Couple with this uncertainty the verifiable certainty that humans ultimately fuck themselves when novel technologies are at their disposal. Look at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Gander off at biological weapons. We have failed to heed Miyamoto Musashi’s advice that one should strive to know the benefit and detriment in everything. So while we hear of the great opportunities and optimistically extravagant material gains we can make with AI, it is imperative that we stare down the other end of the eyeglass…especially in consideration of this next report recommendation:

“Federal agencies should explore the potential to create DARPA like organizations to support high-risk, high-reward AI research and its application…”

What is DARPA? Nothing more than the Defense and Advanced Research Projects Agency deeply entwined with the Department of Defense (read that again). So yes, it is virtually guaranteed that advancements in AI will pave the way to new methodologies of destruction despite the naysayers and starry-eyed optimists.

Granted, if we don’t do it another country might. I get that. But the fact leaves me feeling we are all waiting for the trigger-pull of the men and women of science behind these developments. Which way will the gun point? At ourselves, or the root of our destructiveness?

(hmmm I like the paradox)

If you have the time, I highly recommend watching the astounding interview of Patrick Wood on the subject of ‘technocracy’. It is, in my best estimation, the direction society is seemingly shifting towards in light of all this AI stuff.

Take care all.

CosmiQ Works, an organization largely associated with the CIA, is currently working with Amazon and a satellite mapping group known as DigitalGlobe in an attempt to couple artificial intelligence analysis of images with satellite surveillance on a global scale.(1)

The ultimate objective of their project is to be able to capture and store “60 million images” of activity, both human and natural, and have an AI sieve through and analyze the data thoroughly. Though this presents an obvious threat to privacy on a massive scale, Tony Frazier, the senior vice president of DigitalGlobe, claims that since we are able to gather massive amounts of detailed information via satellite already, it follows that we should capitalize on our ability to analyze such information to the fullest.

The collected images will be stored on Amazon’s Spacenet, which holds “approximately 1,900 square kilometers full-resolution 50 cm imagery collected from DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 commercial satellite and includes 8-band multispectral data. The dataset also includes 220,594 building footprints derived from this imagery which can be used as training data for machine learning.”

Wide area surveillance isn’t anything new however. For example, some police departments have been actively utilizing cameras mounted to single-engine planes to record imagery of crime-related areas for their investigations, much to the public’s unawareness:

As these projects advance, one cannot help but wonder what privacy an individual might still possess in the future? In my opinion, none.

Take as reason the Argus-Is system of DARPA – (Automated Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imagery System) which boasts an unprecedented capacity for wide area surveillance.

This latest system is one of many that are expressly purposed to monitor the globe, and just like the nuke, we will use these systems to their highest potentials -nefarious or not.

I am all for new technology, but concerning those pieces of equipment capable of micro-scoping my life, I’d like to know who is using them and for what purposes.

Notes

1.Hamilton, J. (2016). EYES IN THE SKY. CIA training artificial intelligence to spy on Earth from SPACE using ‘computer vision’ https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1673802/cia-training-artificial-intelligence-to-spy-on-earth-from-space-using-computer-vision/


Not long ago robots were portrayed on black-and-white television sets as rather awkward, bulky, metal gadgets which served humanity in both helpful and trivial ways. Some of these fictitious devices allowed the lady of the house to have more leisure time as dinner was served, dishes were washed, and laundry was completed, while others had such menial functions as taking the phone off of the hook when it would ring. As time progressed, our Hollywood projections of robots evolved to have a more colorful, sophisticated, and almost human quality. A prime example can be found in the Terminator series.

Despite the glamour of our ultra-high-definition television sets, and the vibrant humanoid robot images they seem to almost bring to life, the reality of robotics in the modern age can be viewed in a more sinister way. Some people are very optimistic about the novel technology while others consider the progress we are making in this field to be a major dilemma for the human race. Either way, the robots of today are far closer to that of the modern depictions than its former, American counterparts.

Recently, a large factory in China laid off 60,000 workers and replaced them with robots. Representatives of FoxConn, the corporation in question, deny that this will be a problem for humanity and claim that it will allow people to seek out higher aims than the menial, repetitious attacks which factory work offers. The fact remains; however, that those 60,000 people did lose their jobs. Furthermore, the FoxConn representatives also suggest that China will continue their drive toward automation and that others will likely follow suit. (1)

Deloitte consultants partnered with Oxford University and released a report which suggested 35% of all jobs will be in jeopardy within the next 20 years as a direct result of advances in robotics. Though one might question what incentive there could be for such automation in the workforce (after all robots are expensive) it must be taken into consideration that even at today’s prices former McDonald’s CEO, Ed Ransey, stated point blank that purchasing robotic arms for $15,000 is far more economical than paying $15 dollars per hour for an inefficient employee. (2)

Pizza Hut must have had similar thoughts regarding their employees. In Japan, the popular restaurant chain decided to add some Pepper to their stock and it has very little to do with the common seasoning. Pepper is a robot which can offer suggestions, take orders, serve meals, and even accept payment for services rendered. Despite being newly released, this model costs only $1,700.(3)

Eateries are not the only places boasting robots as employees. Several hotels have furnished room service for their customers via automated devices. In addition, Starship Technologies has provided semi-automated delivery robots for various organizations which are especially popular among pizza delivery services. Security robots are becoming more and more common as are inventory stocking robots. The machine known as Tally is able to stock the same inventory that a human takes 25 hours to stock with a 65% accuracy in 30 minutes with a 90% accuracy. Target has already began using the latter device. (4)

Robots have also emerged in households to perform what one might consider to be an unsavory duty. To be point blank, these robots are fully customizable, automated sex bots. As of now, they are able to placidly agree with what their partner says and appear to be relatively personable. The plan is to begin designing these robots to become partners which offer “unconditional love and support”. In short, the automated sexual companion will also be able to offer the illusion of having falling in love and sharing the same interests and tastes as the user.(5) One might think that men will be the most susceptible to this trend; however, future analysts currently speculate that women will prefer robots to their male counterparts by the year 2025! (6) People are even considering opening up sex robot brothels under the guise of reducing the spread of STIs and in addition to human trafficking! (7) While there may be some truth to this it is a very novel phenomenon in the history of human evolution. Ultimately, the results of such an action remain to be seen.

Though the information thus far might be considered overwhelming by some, it would be wise for those individuals to hold on to their metaphorical hats. There is so much more to this field than what has been described thus far. For instance, researchers from Leibniz University of Hannover have successfully programmed robots to feel pain vis a vis external sensors and pathways that attempt to replicate those of humans. This allows for the robot to self-preserve and prevent itself from getting overly damaged whenever possible. Naturally, this development has fueled the fire for intense debate on the status of robots as machines or sentient beings in need of protection. (8)

Though robots feeling pain can create quite an ethical dilemma, one might wonder what kind of debate would be sparked among ethicists should they have the ability to inflict pain on humans. In truth, this quandary is now being addressed after a machine was made, the First Law, named after the first rule of robotics. Incidentally, this artificial intelligence entity breaks its very namesake. It has the ability to choose whether or not it pricks an individual’s finger on its own volition. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. It is entirely unpredictable. This begs the question of what an artificial intelligence with a greater destructive capacity could present a problem to humanity. Clearly, they can harm those that they were designed to serve. (9) On that note, many academics are warning that such entities as these, with pure programmable logic and a general lack of emotion, are very likely to quickly realize the potential of crime and the statistical probability of harm or consequence as a result of such actions. For example, a self-driving car programmed with artificial intelligence capabilities may notice other vehicles driving over the speed limit without detriment and emulate such behavior. Researchers also suggest that an autonomous medical robot could very well see euthanasia as the most effective treatment for a particular ailment. They may do this to prevent the spread of disease or perhaps to simply limit potential suffering after noting the likelihood of recovery. In fact, there are any number of reasons that they could behave in such a way given that they are able to manifest their own form of intelligence. (10)

There is also reason to expect that artificial intelligence will attain higher levels of status and a larger range of activity. Google has invented DeepMind, an AI platform, which can easily go web-wide once it is unleashed in full. (11) They have utilized a natural-image “unsupervised learning” format which mimics the human brain. (12) Unlike a mind belonging to a human; however, it is able to perform tasks rapidly and repetitiously without a need for sleep. It is also able to challenge itself. As a result, it was able to defeat the world champion of the ancient game Go. This game was thought to require human intuition and it is impossible to calculate moves ahead of time to gain an advantage. Thus we know it is not the result of programming. In fact, it is the result of the entity AlphaGo, a part of the DeepMind project, having observed humans playing the game online, competed, and once it became proficient it was left to play itself over and over again. 13

Ultimately, time will tell what is to come for humanity regarding robotics and artificial intelligence. Google, among other organizations creating AI, has been working on a kill switch to disable the entity if needed. With that said, what is to stop it from disabling the kill switch? 14

Notes

  1. Wakefield, J.(2016). ‘Foxconn replaces ‘60,000 factory workers with robots’. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36376966
  2. Ibid
  3.  Reisinger, D. (2016). Pizza Hut Adding Pepper Robots to Restaurants in Asia. http://www.pcmag.com/news/344718/pizza-hut-adding-pepper-robots-to-restaurants-in-asia
  4. Brown, B. (2016). Robot Workers are Showing up in Malls, Hotels, and Parking Lots.                http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/mit-robots-stores-hotels-parking-lots/#:U4ZigDpr1tFDDA
  5. Spitznagel, E (2016). Why This Guy Fell in Love with a Sex Robot. http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/sex-robots
  6. Mills, K. Bishop, B. (2016). Women will have more sex with robots than men by 2025 with ‘robophilia’ set to relegate romance.  http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/women-more-sex-robots-men-8312068
  7. Bishop, R. (2016). Robot brothels could soon become reality in UK as nation’s booming sex trade undergoes revolution. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/robot-brothels-could-soon-become-8684685
  8. Yirka, B. (2016). Teaching robots to feel pain to protect themselves. http://techxplore.com/news/2016-05-robots-pain.html
  9. McCrum, K. (2016). Robot which can choose to harm humans sparks artificial intelligence debate http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/robot-can-choose-harm-humans-8179333
  10. Hamill, J. (2016). ROBOCROOK Robots set to become CRIMINALS and cops will be powerless to stop them. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1658091/robots-will-become-criminals-and-cops-wont-be-able-to-steer-them-away-from-the-dark-side/
  11. Google Inc. (2016) Google DeepMind. https://deepmind.com/
  12. van den Oord, A. Kalchbrenner, N. Kavukcuoglu, K. (2016) Pixel Recurrent Neural Networks http://arxiv.org/abs/1601.06759
  13. Silver, D. et. Al. (2016). Mastering the game of Go with deep neural networks and tree search http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v529/n7587/full/nature16961.html
  14. McCrum, K. (2016). Robot which can choose to harm humans sparks artificial intelligence debate http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/robot-can-choose-harm-humans-8179333