Artificial Non-Intelligence

The Danger with Artificial “Intelligence” Is That It’s Not (yet) Intelligent

Albert Einstein once said that “our entire much-praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal”. He said this in December 1917, almost a hundred years ago, after seeing Europe ravaged by the First World War. Regardless, Einstein continued contributing to that same technological progress. Human curiosity and our desire to achieve are incompatible with stagnation. We will have to deal with this by being careful with the technology we will inevitably develop.

Like many have said before me, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can either be our salvation or our doom. It is a far bigger game-changer than nuclear bombs. But the problem is that there is NO Artificial Intelligence yet, and there won’t be for quite some time to come. Everything that the world’s corporations are selling now-a-days as “smart” or “intelligent” is actually a mindless human construct. Sure, it’s advanced, but if a rocket is more advanced than a spoon, that doesn’t make it in the slightest more intelligent than the spoon. They both lack one of the prime ingredients of intelligence, which is self-awareness. And therein lays the true threat.

Right now, our so-called artificial “intelligence” is nothing but a tool that corporations can and will use ruthlessly against one another (and against the people of one another). This is already taking place on the stock market, something I wrote about last year. Back then, I highlighted the fact that exactly because these algorithms are not intelligent, they will be used to enrich and empower whoever spent money in building them, regardless of their morals or social affiliation. And let’s not forget that software is far easier to steal and smuggle than radioactive material. Put the wrong AI in the hands of the wrong people and…

The AI Stock Market Wars

The AI Stock Market Wars

Before Artificial Intelligence develops free will and would even be in a sufficiently advanced position to decide if humans are necessary on this planet, we seem to be doing a pretty good job of destroying ourselves anyway by giving a dangerous amount of power over to semi-intelligent algorithms. Enter the artificially intelligent hedge fund.

But what’s this talk about “destroying ourselves”? Can these things actually kill? Well, let’s look at this way: these algorithms are designed to make profits for their owners by moving investments from one company to the other. In other words, stock market algorithms are playing with the fate of companies in order to make profits for investors. But unlike a human, an algorithm is not programmed for empathy, mercy or intuition. Such algorithms could potentially annihilate a promising company simply because it made some errors in reporting or short-term financial planning.

Consumerism as Religion

Consumerism as Religion

A certain sense of achievement can arise following the break with organized religion. Many people rightly feel they have been freed from a prison of outdated practices and mentalities. Yet, the human need for belonging and confirmation has not disappeared. Neither has the inventive human spirit, always ready to prey upon its own in the quest for profit.

Consumerism is defined as a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. The way this behavior spreads and elevates its status in society is surprisingly similar with religious traditions. This text is about some rather amusing parallels that all but indicate that consumerism is taking advantage of the power void left by fall from grace of organized religion.

This is not to say that consumerism has any of the spiritual virtues that religion often promotes. That’s exactly the problem – consumerism is an economic tool that is capitalizing on an intimate need. It’s the wrong cure for something that isn’t even a problem. And it’s proving to be increasingly costly for the future of our ecosystem and thus, our quality of life in the coming decades and centuries.

Christmas as Avatar of Consumerism

Christmas as Avatar of Consumerism

Cultural war is tricky business. As a living entity, culture needs mechanisms of protection from external threats. But intellectual defensive systems can become an obstacle for evolution especially when a culture has fallen in love with itself to the point where criticism is no longer seen as a mechanism for progress. For all its merits, Western culture is affected by a plague of intellectual rigidity.

There is no need to generalize. There are many Westerners who are quite open to change and new ideas, perhaps more-so than any other major culture on Earth. This is only sufficient if these people can trigger an evolutionary step forwards by reaching a critical mass enough to spread a wave of change throughout society.

What does all this have to do with Christmas? It’s quite simple really. Changing the way we interpret Christmas is probably a litmus test for cultural evolution. Why do we need to reinterpret this cultural event? Because it is the avatar of a way of doing business that may have made sense in the 20th century, but will only lead to worsening the quality of life on this planet for future generations of human beings.

22 x 22 for PTSD

22 x 22 for PTSD

22 days ago, I embarked on a challenge to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder. The challenge is one of those things that sometimes flare up through social media. It’s easy to generalize such happenings and to dismiss them as nothing but annoying fads. Luckily, not everybody is prone to generalization. I decided to undertake this challenge not only because PTSD is a mental condition that is familiar to me, but also because a good friend inspired me (he posted a video every time after doing his 22 daily pushups).

For the past 22 days, aside from the 22 pushups that are the subject of the challenge, I also did daily reading about PTSD. During this process, I compiled a rather long list of notes and now, I’ll use that list of notes to bring forth my own effort for raising awareness about PTSD.

Mainstream Entertainment And Objectification

Mainstream Entertainment and Objectification

The digital age has made audio-visual entertainment cheap, easy to obtain and, for an ever-increasing number of people it became one of the main means of counteracting the stress of daily life.

Cinematography and computer games are the undisputed leaders when it comes to this sort of fun. There are a lot of excellent movies and games out there. The opposite is also true and therein lays a problem: entertainment is a highly efficient means of propagating stereotypes and ideologies. Let’s take a look at some of these effects (such as the stereotyping of the human body) and observe how they sometimes end up damaging our society.

Tesla - Human or Autopilot?

Human or Autopilot?

The self-driving vehicle revolution is upon us and it brings with it some serious challenges. One such conundrum is just how much control will we give over to our vehicles. Recently, we’ve had the first fatality resulting from the use of this family of technologies. However, it’s important to note that the car wasn’t really self-driving.

The person died due to the (presumably) improper use of the Autopilot feature. Before we rush to blame Tesla, we’ll see why this sort of half-measure is quite dangerous. Let’s take a look at what another industry that has been using autopilot features for decades has learned during time.

Social Contribution Inequality

Social Contribution Inequality

There has been a lot of talk in the past decades about income inequality and for good reason. Various factors contribute to income inequality, such as the political orientation of a country or its economic status. But at the root of unfair reward systems lies a way of thinking that associates people with the immediate economic benefit that they bring to a group. In other words: no long-term strategy.

Such reasoning made more sense in a past when a famine could threaten the survival of an entire culture. Even though we live in quite different times (many countries are approaching post-scarcity economy), our instinct hasn’t quite caught up yet. This is not entirely surprising given how fast we’ve evolved in the past centuries. Our “firmware” hasn’t had enough time to adapt. So, we’re still prone to terribly pragmatic and survivalist decision-making. Social contribution inequality is the result of this style of thinking. It is the poor rewarding of some members of society because others do not immediately see them as being profitable.

Sony And Smart Contact Lenses

Smart Contact Lenses Will Soon Be upon Us

After Google experimented with integrating a glucose level sensor on a contact lens, it was only a matter of time before we would see more innovation in this field. A recent patent filing from Sony describes the intention of putting a camera inside a contact lens.

While this toy won’t exactly be invisible –at least not at first – the privacy implications are quite serious. We’re still at least a few years away from market availability, but I imagine that after several product cycles, such a camera could reach a pretty good recording resolution. Coupled with wireless transmission to a storage device, people will eventually be able to record everything they see, everywhere they go.

The Intellectual Diet

The Intellectual Diet

Just like the body is what it eats, the mind is what it experiences. This is a truth with vast and grave implications when it comes to the types of entertainment we invest our time in. Entertainment is a highly efficient social programming tool because when entertained the mind is open and relaxed. While in this state, it is easier for toxic messages to escape our scrutiny and infiltrate our thoughts.

A simple example about how entertainment has negatively affected our society is the impressive range of stereotypes it helped create. We need to look no further than the objectification of both women and men. The silent enforcement of ideal body types starts as early as the first cartoons kids watch and continues throughout the adult life, slowly dripping into our minds from movies to magazine covers and commercials.