Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy
cathy_edgett

The Long Now Foundation!!



This is an absolute must-read!!


Paul Saffo wrote the summary this time (I had to be in Chicago Aug. 8 and apparently missed one of the most amazing SALT talks of the year---by Daniel Suarez, author of Daemon.)

                                --Stewart Brand



Forget about HAL-like robots enslaving humankind a few decades from now; the takeover is already underway.  The agents of this unwelcome revolution aren't strong AIs, but "bots"-- autonomous programs that have insinuated themselves into the Internet and thus into every corner of our lives.  Apply for a mortgage lately? A bot determined your FICA score and thus whether you got the loan.  Call 411?  A bot gave you the number and connected the call.  Highway-bots collect your tolls, read your license plate and report you if you have an outstanding violation.

Bots are proliferating because they are so very useful.  Businesses rely on them to automate essential processes, and of course bots running on zombie computers are responsible for the tsunami of spam and malware plaguing Internet users worldwide.  At current growth rates, bots will be the majority users of the Internet by 2010.

We are visible to bots even when we are not at our computers.  Next time you are on a downtown street, contemplate the bot-controlled video cameras watching you, or the bots tracking your cellphone and sniffing at your Bluetooth-enabled gizmos.  We walk through a gauntlet of bot-controlled sensors every time we step into a public space, and the sensors are proliferating.

Bots are very narrow Artificial Intelligence---nothing that would make a cleric remotely nervous.  But they would scare the hell out of epidemiologists who understand that parasites don't need to be smart to be dangerous.  Meanwhile, the Internet and the complex of processing, storage and sensors linked to it is growing exponentially, creating a vast new ecology for bots to roam in.  Bots aren't evolving on their own---yet.

Left unchecked, bots will trap the human race because the automation they enable will make it possible for a few people to run humanity while the rest of us are unable to make decisions of any consequence.  Bots are thus vectors for despotism, with the potential to create a world where only a small group of people understand how society works.  In the worst case, the controls over bots disappear---for example, the only person who knows the password to a corporate bot dies---and the bots become autonomous.

We are in a Darwinian struggle with narrow AI, and so far the bots are winning.  But there is a solution: build a new Internet hard-coded with democratic values.  Start with an encrypted Darknet into which only verifiably human users can enter.  Create augmented reality tools to identify bots in the physical world.  Enlist the aid of a few tame bots to help forge a symbiotic relationship with narrow AI.  Stir in some luck, and perhaps we can avoid the fate of the Sorcerer's Apprentice who rashly enchants a broom to do his tedious chores and ends up terrorized by his imperfect creation.  We had better succeed, for unlike the fable, there is no Master Sorcerer ready to return to break the spell and save us from our folly.

                                --Paul Saffo

-- 


Stewart Brand -- sb@gbn.org
The Long Now Foundation - http://www.longnow.org
Seminars & downloads: http://www.longnow.org/projects/seminars/

Subscribe

  • Return -

    I haven't been here in awhile and I return today to learn there is a "new post editor". I start to try it and then go back to the old. I am…

  • It's Morning!

    I've been here at Live Journal since October, 2005. I started it to keep in touch with family and friends as I went through cancer treatment.…

  • The sun is shining!

    Where I live the sun is shining and the buds have popped out so the plum trees are waving white. We've had months of rain, record breaking rain and…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 3 comments