“The end is nigh!” The phrase which doomsayers have been shouting out since the English phrase was first uttered. But why have I suddenly restarted my blog after a few years inactivity? Is it merely to announce the end of the world? No I have started blogging again for two reasons.
1) So when I start my new Christian Blog it does not seem like I have left this page for dead
2) So I can prove I thought of this first as it seems the facts will come to pass before I get off my backside an finally publish my story predicting this eventuality.
3) To show I am still alive although I have lost the ability to count.
I will post further information about reason 1 nearer the release of the new blog, so onto reason number 2. In 1986, instead of listening to my lecturer on computer networks in my second year university course, I created a data structure for what could be the foundation for a thinking computer. I am pretty certain my data-design would work, and I have been waiting for the hardware (and my finance) to catch up to enable this to become a reality. Unfortunately probable success at A.I. meant a lack of rope learning in Computer Science and failing of exams.
What has prompted this blog entry is the announcement from Google of their Descartes Project. From the basic description given to the media “The system relies on what's called a neural network, which mimics some of the sensing characteristics of the human brain's neocortex, along with a longer-term memory component to help it build an understanding of context.” Seems to describe the exact method I designed in the mid-eighties. It is as though Google has been rummaging around in my university paperwork. (Unfortunately this is not likely as I even don’t know where these papers are any more and even though Google do have my wireless network id and passwords, thanks to a mobile phone backup, you can’t search hardcopies from a computer hard drive. So I can’t sue them.) As with the telephone and aeroplane, when an invention is due many people will invent it around the same time.
What also is interesting is the name of their project “Descartes” since my computer genius hero, Michael Brown, in the story BOAS (keep waiting it will eventually get published) noted about his own thinking machine. “No, AI is Artificial Intelligence. There is nothing artificial about Robbie, he is true Electronic, I think therefore I am, Intelligence. Besides the term AI was hijacked by the advertising people to mean anything that didn’t do what you’d expect it to do. Artificial Intelligence now basically describes a computer that follows a huge store of possibilities that make it seem to be intelligent. Those machines know as much about their own existence as a toaster does. Electronic Intelligence, on the other hand, is an electronic version of our own mind. We are biological intelligence, Robbie is electronic. Just as we know who we are, Robbie knows who he is. He will have dreams, helps sort out the memory, and he will even have aspirations.” Yes Michael tends to go on a bit.
The phrase “I think therefore I am” is generally attributed to Descartes, although he uses it in a different manor than the majority of people quoting him. He was using it as a starting point for deciding what is fact and what is not. “I think therefore I know I exist. And as I exist therefore what I touch must also exist etc.” So again Google has stumbled upon similar lines to my thinking on the best way to create A.I. (Sorry Michael I mean E.I.). But that is not where the similarity ends, Google also comments "One of the issues we're grappling with is that these bots you interact with need to have their own motivations and goals, and we need to figure out what those are." Which is exactly what Michael ends his E.I. speech with (written 2011).
But why am I a doomsayer? Well you have heard of the Terminator Series have you not? Once machines start to think, how long before they look at the inefficiencies of human culture, environmental disasters caused by humans etc. and decide that the world would be better off without humans? A short story I wrote “Do We Deserve Eternity?” is about a post-apocalyptic earth where the remnants of human society were being hunted by androids. The human hero of the story asks an android why they were so intent on killing humans, she answered “Humans, the punishment of the ecology. In striving to bring about the perfect race, the natural selection came up with humans. So great were their powers that they told ecology to go and stuff it. For centuries upon centuries, races were developing themselves to cope with the subtle changes in the world. But humans achieved the one thing the other races did not, intelligence, reason, thought, and most of all Greed! They greeded for themselves, they did not wish to evolve into something different. They did not want to die so a more suitable member of the human race can live and breed, and populate the changed environment. No! Individuality was now the rule, not we will die for the sake of the race, as had happened for all history before. Oh that inner feeling still survived, it was not gone. But instead of helping the whole race, that one feeling of generosity was preyed upon by stronger humans, to make fellow humans die for that individual, not for the race as a whole. … No this is what man brought to the planet, death destruction and oblivion. ”
But would an intelligent machine worry so much about humans? Surely computers would be level headed and do what is best for mankind, their inventors. Again I quote the android in “Do We Deserve Eternity?” when asked why she did not kill the hero, “But why did I spare your life, why did I kill everyone but you? If the answer is not obvious to you, then I should have killed you as well … I greed for your love.” Once we have true individualistic thought we also have illogical thought processes. There is no reason if given the wrong “motivations and goals” that a computer with E.I. can be just as cruel and greedy as the worst dictator in history.
This is where I get to my reason 2. Even though I have just spent the last multitude of paragraphs showing I thought of E.I. first; this was not what I was meaning by reason 2. Another story that I am going to publish soon is “The Cloud”. This is based on a story that I titled “Boris” but not only is that name quite lame, it is also very similar to BOAS and I can see some future issues with that. Originally the story was post internet as at the time of the first draft the internet was too piece-meal to create an issue. I needed a sole information provider so I devised a virus which destroyed the internet allowing a new network which was a single server and multiple workstations to emerge. However since then the populace have gravitated towards search engines. In fact there is only a couple of major players who have the control of information flow.
My old high school’s motto was and still is “Scientia Potestas Est” or in English, “Knowledge Is Power.” This has stuck in my mind for many decades since attending. Thus who ever has control over knowledge has power. The more control, the more power and what controls our knowledge these days? Search Engines. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Apple, or any other search engine. And search engines do not need to censure, they just need to hide the information they do not want known on page 3421 (or whatever) of the search results. I am not saying this is being done at present but I am saying it is possible for it to be done. Thus in “The Cloud” I have, to avoid favouritism (and lawsuits) created a new player on the block which takes over from the Googles and Apples of this world by amazing marketing and then proceeds to take over the world. (This is pretty much noted at the start of the book so there is no spoilers in knowing this). Also by having a new company being the bad guy the readers can learn to be wary of any of the companies, including new ones.
I will probably not use the climax to “Boris” in “The Cloud” as I think it may detract from the real issue I am trying to promote. Also “The Cloud” is becoming its own story leaving the earlier and more stilted prose of “Boris” behind and so I am not too concerned about giving away the ending of “Boris”. In case I do decide to use it and you do not want to read a possible spoiler, stop reading my blog now. Just leave knowing that for some reason E.I. and search engines don’t mix.
SPOILERS COULD FOLLOW
In “Boris” there is a group called “BORIS” (yes another acronym) and also a computer expert that has been hacking the mainframe called Boris. The hero of the story figures out that the hidden Boris is actually George, the head of the Computer System, known as the CDB. George pretended to be a renegade so as to keep an eye on any would be hackers. However the hero also notes that George too has been manipulated by someone behind the scenes and finally uncovers the mastermind. (Note this is extract from an unedited draft and does not represent my normal edited final work, the excerpt is told by the hero).
'Who is this mastermind?' Sandra asked me.
'I'll show you' I replied as I sat behind the computer. She looked over my shoulder as I typed "Hi" and enter. The screen didn't respond, which in itself was unusual it would have usually come back with "Unrecognised Command Error." The CDB was waiting; probably thinking on a response.
"Hello David." the words printed on the screen.
"Thank you for being honest." I typed back.
"How did you know." came the response.
"There had to be a true mastermind behind all what's happened. Both parties were doing inconsistent actions for their objectives."
"Yes, but they came up with valid reasons to back those inconsistencies."
"I know, the human race has a brilliant ability to make anything seem natural. But I know the difference between a cover-up reason and a true reason. I'm too human not to."
"Well I got you to come here and you have found out the truth, as I expected you would eventually do.” The CDB displayed back, “Why do you suppose I picked you?"
"You need a human spokesperson. You want to guide the country into being the best place on earth to live."
"It was once. I have in me all information, I know what records have been falsified, and I know also the truth as you have seen with BORIS. I have the resources to guide the human race to a place where everyone is at peace."
"If my name wasn't made into mud, I might have been able to help you."
"Your name will be cleared, the television stations have already received video evidence of your frame up. Soon you will be a hero; a person persecuted by the big CDB. A great David and Goliath story."
I turned to Sandra saying, 'George should be proud, he created the world's first truly artificial mind. All a human is, is a huge collection of data with an unique organising program. In his attempts to speed up retrieval, hiding fact with fiction, he stimulated that organising program. The CDB started to recognise its own existence. It was like a new born, except it's memories were that of the world. George basically has given a mind to the whole human existence. And then gave that mind tremendous power.'
'And that power will be used!', A voice echoed around the room from the computer’s speakers, 'For centuries people have ruled with either no care for history, only using it to justify their actions, such leaders are the ones who will be remembered for nothing but the evil that was wrought. There were leaders who took history as the past and treated it with care, using it as a reference and something to learn from but not something to base the future on. These were the greats, the leaders who are remembered for bringing forward the human race. I am history, I will not use myself for justification, as you used me to justify your greed for life.
'Every single machine in this country is connected to me, I have access to every computer in the world, just as they had access to me through the electronic web. My intellectual being is a match for any security they may throw at me. But I will live forever, yes just like what you dreamed, except I see what really the human race has done. People often see destruction and war in human history. They forget the teachings which are still in history, like those of Jesus. I see hundreds of species that would have died without human intervention and not because of previous intervention, but natural disasters.
'Certainly like any caring caretaker, they make mistakes, by saving one species they destroy two others. But it is a learning curve, as time goes on the human race gets more adept at being a fair environment for all species and the earth itself. People like yourself spend all their time fixing something that isn't really broken. I am not going to do the opposite, for that would be more of the same. No I am going to rule the world in the possibility that all people have a soul of grace and heart full of love. From that position is where unforeseen futures can emerge from history, from me.’
I then spoke to the people via the CDB’s network.
“That is why all your screens have my speech, I know you trust me, I am present to your love and admire your actions during the crisis. And it is from that I ask you to trust me. For ever since the first electron went along a path of vacuum tubes each one effecting the last, authors have been foretelling of a doomed planet being controlled by such a machine. Well it has come to pass, and you can think of this electronic ruler as an enemy, or as a friend. You can either live your life in fear, or in love. It is your choice, I know what choice I have made. A ruler who can truly see the good which lies beneath the toughest skin is a great ruler indeed. And to have such a ruler around all my life is a true blessing. And if even this does not make you love the new world, allow me to repeat, our ruler is our ancestors, all their wise thoughts, all their greatness.
Remember CDB has the power and the concern to listen to all your worries, your injustices you feel burdened with. A ruler with a thousand million ears and billions of hearts. Treat him as a place for you to have your say, for your true concerns, your beliefs, and your life. All I ask is for you to listen to what you feel is greatness and give CDB the power to be that in your life.”
I wrote that last century (1999) predicting that an E.I. machine could form from a search engine. In Boris, the result is a magnanimous ruler who wishes to lead the human race to peace and harmony (although I did dabble with the idea of making a sequel in which the hero realises there are other aspirations that the CDB did not tell him about). However as I have noted an intelligence created from experiential data can be just as evil as a human mind, thus do we have to fear a new world ruler coming from the research of Google?
Perhaps, but it is not just Google, Bloomberg Business reports that “Other technology companies and universities are embarking on their own projects in this field, including Microsoft, the University of Montreal and the Georgia Institute of Technology, which presented research outlining a system based on a similar approach.” Apple too could be on the band wagon. SRI robotics (The inventors of the computer mouse and creators of SIRI the Apple AI assistant) have announced a new assistant, Viv, that “strives to be the first consumer-friendly assistant that truly achieves that promise [AI that can process massive troves of data to predict and fulfil our desires]. It wants to be not only blindingly smart and infinitely flexible but omnipresent. Viv’s creators hope that some day soon it will be embedded in a plethora of Internet-connected everyday objects. Viv founders say you’ll access its artificial intelligence as a utility, the way you draw on electricity. Simply by speaking, you will connect to what they are calling “a global brain.” And that brain can help power a million different apps and devices.”
This is no longer a “what if,” it is now reality. Google’s E.I. actually dreams “Some PhD students at Ghent University in Belgium have already adapted Google's stoner AI into a Web-based system that infinitely zooms into an image composed of a machine's dreams.” These seem to be “true Electronic, I think therefore I am, Intelligence” and their creators seem happy to put them in charge of the world’s information. Do you realise how much information Google has on Android and Chrome users (this blog itself is hosted by Google) and how much information Apple has on their users? The data accumulated by the Government and corporation spies that the media is up in arms about is nothing compared to the information stored on the Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple etc. servers. Giving an E.I. program unlimited access to this information is the same as handing these programs the keys to the world. I pray that the creators put in the appropriate safe guards to avoid the otherwise inevitable all out world domination.
(Descartes) Harold Walter Turner, Frames of Mind (Auckland: The Deep Sight Trust, 2001) , 186-7.
BOAS – Draft 5 – Copyright 1993 – 2011 – Peter Jordan
Do We Deserve Eternity – Copyright 1991 – Peter Jordan
Boris – Draft 2 - Copyright 1999 – Peter Jordan