Intelligence, Real and Artificial

I admire Elon Musk for his ability to understand not only quantum physics, but how those properties apply to everyday people and their lives. It does take a different kind of smarts to be able to explain a complex theory.
He has been an advocate of travel to Mars and restrictions on the technology that would allow that sort of thing, at the same time. Specifically, he recently implored governmental leaders to intentionally limit the artificial intelligence arms race, calling the technology “an existential threat to mankind”.
And then there’s Google.

The company just released a video of the results of how advanced their AI “DeepMind” taught itself to walk. Through trial and error, it can now walk, run, maneuver over and under obstacles, climb and maintain balance. You can see the promotional video here:

Google is already the leader in search engine algorithms, which tracks each website click, length of time spent on a site and from where and to where others sites the user goes. Seems as though  “Minority Report” was more science than fiction.

Musk is by far more deeply involved in technological capabilities than most cutting-edge companies and certainly moreso than most governments and his assessment is thus:

“AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don’t think people fully appreciate that,” Musk said. He said he has access to cutting-edge AI technology, and that based on what he’s seen, AI is “the scariest problem.

So how does that square with the (now) run-of-the-mill dystopian scenarios that are driving the most recent surge in disaster prepping and homesteading practices? If robots can catch us when we run, climb up or down to where we might hide, don’t care if they die and can track us down through technology (which would ostensibly include GPS, satellites, infrared and electromagnetism), is there a point to preparing for anything in the future? Should we just ride the wave and think fondly of the days when it was only in movies that a Terminator (Terminator), or a Chief John Anderton (Minority Report), or a Thomas Bryan Reynolds (Enemy of the State) that there is nowhere to hide.

For all its potentially terrifying possibilities for the human condition, AI is still….artificial. It lacks the true capacity to feel or change it’s ‘mind’ based on compassion, love, treachery or fear. It lacks the ability to understand why a person would lie or sacrifice themselves. It has no understanding of the why of art or how to create something based on beauty. That is where our defenses truly lie, the humaness of being human. True, a robot may be nearly physically unbeatable, but nothing yet has withstood the powers of concentration of a toddler intent on getting into something they know they shouldn’t be into, or the plot intricacies of a group of teenaged girls.

I’m betting on the toddlers.

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