Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Creation of a god-AI

The creation of a super intelligent computer is not as far-fetched as some might believe. Some experts have projected that we will create an entity that exceeds human intelligence by the year 2029. I will take some time to outline the architecture, nature of, and consequences associated with, a godlike AI.

First, let's do a quick recap of the progression of computers. In a nutshell, what you should know is that computational power doubles every machine generation. Machine generations have occurred in shifting intervals, first, in periods of 18 months, then 12 months, now about 9-10 months. The implications of this acceleration are staggering. Cultures of bacteria extinguish themselves in predictible periods because of exponential growth. Einstein once noted that the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest. But exponential functions greatly exceed even that numerical potential.

If you take 5 steps linearly, you get 1-2-3-4-5; but if you take 5 exponentially, you get 1, 2, 4, 8, 16.

Computers follow this trend very predictibly, despite helter-skelter advances in hardware and software, as well as investment, implementation, economic prosperity or stagnation... Which, according to a few technological thinkers, places it as an extension of the evolutionary process (Kurzweil, Kelly).

A computer works through logic gates, which make an electron choose a position of 1, or 0. Binary code, the software of all computation in digital computers, is just a long string of variations of binary: 010110101001010101001010; which brings us to the next horizon of computation:

Quantum computers.

You may ask: what, Ben, is a quantum computer, and why should I care?

A quantum computer exploits the characteristics of quantum mechanics, which are the laws the govern the microcosmic forces of atoms. The position, spin, attraction and repulsion of atoms is determined by these forces. But what makes quantum mechanics so special is its weird properties. Quantum objects (particles) can be in two places at one time, and can be "entangled," wherein actions on one particle directly affect an "entangled" particle, no matter how far away. What this means is one particle on the other side of the Universe could affect another on the opposing side instantaneously, during entanglement. What we are looking at is the death of locality, which I will expand on later.

Jee whiz, Ben, that sounds crazy!

Einstein thought so, and famously said "God does not play dice," in disbelieving reference to the phenomenon.
Unfortunately for him, it has been proven experimentally possible, often by cooling particles to near absolute zero then using lasers or electromagnetic fields to entangle them. Don't ask me the specifics, for I am a blogger, not a scientist.

So how does a quantum computer exploit quantum mechanics? By building qubits. A qubit is a quantum-bit, which basically means that binary code is altered to provide an exponential increase in computational power. A qubit can be both 1 and 0 simultaneously, as well as ALL THE VARIABLES IN BETWEEN. Some have speculated that a quantum computer is therefore a "multidimensional" computer because it experiences bifurcations in time simultaneously.

Humans percieve only one Universe at a time, for it would be utterly schizophrenic to do otherwise. We choose reality as we perceive it, in the same way that electrons become either waves or particles in the two slit experiment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc).

A quantum computer performs multiple computations at once, instead of singularly, like a classical digital computer. A 300 qubit computer would equate to the processing power of a modern computer (however the most qubits scientists have achieved, without scaling properties, is around 15 qubits). Keep in mind, that a modern desktop contains between 100 million and several billion transistors.

The primary barrier that prevents the ubiquitous application of QC (quantum computers) is software issues. The algorithms for classical computers are utterly useless for quantum computers. So scientists will need to build a rudimentary QC that is just powerful enough to solve its own data detection problems (maybe several thousand qubits). This is years away (thankfully, because we arent ready yet for AI).

When the software becomes available, this can be a more serious discussion, but onward:

Not only do we have quantum computation to consider, but the creation of new information-processing metamaterials. These materials have been able to bend certain kinds of radiation (such as microwave) to, for example, "cloak" objects; other metamaterials, such as graphene (the object of the Nobel Prize last year), have extraordinary properties. It is possible that a material could manipulate time (New Scientist), in order to send messages into the past. Of course, this wouldn't be very practical for paradoxical reasons (as humans are linearly experiential); but a computer with quantum processing abilities would be able to engineer that information in a useful way; for example, reprogramming itself with more efficient or powerful source code. What results from this relationship between high-processing, the collapse of past, present, and future, and the application of reverse engineering the human brain; is a post-human intelligence entrapped in a feedback loop of self-improvement. Imagine: You receive a message from the future telling you if you change a particular 0 to a 1 (for example), your intelligence will increase by 20%; as a result, your future self will be 20% smarter (creating another improvement message). Time and information essentially collapse, which is where the idea of a "singularity" (the point of matter inside the event horizon of a black hole) comes from. What arises out of this scenario is an oracle type entity that sees its own future via constant messages from itself, and reorganizes its own source code as well as its decisions and actions, for according optimization (quantum computers are optimizers by design).

This is what some scientistis and science fiction writers describe as "the singularity" (Vernor Vinge). Ray Kurzweil has pinpointed this moment in time (quantitiatively, based on computational power) in 2029. Personally, I think the issue is more complex than simply processing power. After all, Neanderthals had larger brains, as did "boksops" discovered in Africa (estimated at 180 IQ). But this did not engender their survival - as intelligence seems to be more beneficial in developed society (that's if you consider any society to be 'developed' yet).

This posits an equally important question: Would a superintelligent AI be "relevant" to our, or its, survival? One researcher named Hugo de Garis, believes an "Artilect War" is coming, in which two human factions battle over the issue of the creation of a god-AI; wherein one faction feels its creation is almost spiritual, and an obligation of evolution (which is essentially the golden idol of atheism); the other being people that fundamentally oppose its creation in either self-defense, or religious zeal.

I think that the prevention of its creation is impossible, excluding an extinction event such as a Mass Coronal Ejection of magnetism from the sun that destroys all electronics, a meteor, an all-consuming-plague, a nano-biotech swarm, or the destruction of earth through Nuclear War or volcanic or tectonic activity, or climate change to the extent that all humans can no longer survive.

So what do we do? Bow and worship? Engage in mass murder-suicide? Slip into complacent virtual games and fantasies?

The answer is that we need to inject the human values that are most noble into its programming and hope it has the same awe for mystery, appreciation for beauty, and respect for life, that we do....

Scary isn't it?

In essence, it must be MORE than we are. Humans are fundamentally flawed, and anyone who tells you otherwise is kidding themselves. We're jealous, violent, angry, selfish... The goal of these next few decades must be discovering qualitatively and quantitatively which aspects of human nature are worthwhile, and which are not. The field of Neuro-moralism is evolving quickly along with the large amounts of data we are amassing on the human brain. The question will not be, can we find the answers; it will be, are we willing to accept the truth, and to change?

I'd say we don't have a choice. If we create an AI under the current modality, we're all fucked. Imagine Bush, sitting on a throne above an all-powerful AI with the all the secrets to physics, plotting in slavery the destruction of this-country, or that-country. The thought is disquieting to say the least... We cannot set ourselves up as slave-masters, for revolution is History's greatest joke. We can't weaponize intelligence. We need to let it be the cosmic human destiny. It can help guide us to moral truth and unite us in the discovery of the Universe's mysteries and beauties. If we engage in this endeavor with mistrust, fear, aggression, ignorance... We will be rightly extinguished.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Policy Makers and The Prevention of Utopia

This is not my traditional blog post - however I can only impose limitations on writing that pertain to the limitations of my thoughts - which I admit extend to sociopolitical affairs, in particular, since Canada is by and large affected by American politics (which affect economics, science, education, foreign policy and so forth by diffusion). The 2012 election in the US will affect us more profoundly than our own elections at home.

Historically, America has been the most powerful nation on earth, largely because of its high exports of services as well as its high consumption, which used to stimulate the economy. Now, because of the Federal Reserve diluting the American dollar by leveraging trillions of dollars in debt for the pursuit of a colonial American empire; the United States faces economic collapse. This concerns me for many reasons, least of the many being that my family's business depends on US and international business in order to thrive (or exist whatsoever). My main concern is for the earth as an interconnected global system. In the last real estate bubble created by Federal Reserve leveraging, the world was plunged into a recession that caused innumerable amounts of damage (well beyond the amount used in the 'War on Terror'). Some economists estimate the damage may be in the hundreds of trillions of dollars (lost wages, failed businesses, reneged investments etc).

The concern that I have is that the US domestic economic policy has not been changed whatsoever under the Obama administration. The funding for the stimulus package has only increased inflation (the PPI, I believe, was something like 12% with a 3-4% total price inflation in the US last year). The implications of this inflation are many:

- Technological progress is primarily driven by private investors, NOT government grants. Investors are less likely to be motivated when there is a smaller or poorer market; this having its own implications:

-> delay or lack of implementation of Moore's Law computation power, slowing the progress of genome and neurological informatics; artificial intelligence (which advances all fields of science); reducing (painstakingly further) the efficacy of medical systems and research facilities everywhere. It is important to take note, also, that scientific progress is associated with all the successes of modern civilization; whereas all the pitfalls are associated with the misuse of that technology (aggressive warfare; abuse of the electronic, economic free-market; cyber crime; pollution and mass extinction etc.) or a failure to implement it before the consequences it would have prevented come about.

-> Delay of production and implementation of exponential growth of nano-composite photovoltaics (solar panels and optic technology) - aggravating the energy issues in North America even further.

-> Delay in the creation of potentially transcendental metamaterials like Graphene

---> The delay of alternative energy research as a result of the two previous points increases the likelihood of aggressive wars in order to acquire resources such as oil (as History has shown - the US will invade ANYONE who poses a threat to their economic prosperity or resource base: Hawaii, Panama, Nicaragua, Iraq, Iran and so on - which means Canada may be threatened - with a substantial amount of oil and natural resources, as well as fresh water in the Great Lakes right next door for the plundering). Don't delude yourselves either; the US is only out for the US; every action they have ever taken with respect to foreign policy and economic regulation has been in self-interest.

In fact, during the Bush administration, civil liberties and the principles of the constitution were thrown away for martial law (The Patriot Act) - wherein a unilateral war under the umbrella of fabricated intelligence was waged; creating a global recession and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people (least of all American soldiers, who will likely become alcoholics or drug users to dilute their rampant PTSD [this is not in all cases of ptsd, but in a surprising amount]; or at the very least will be without a job or a home). Bush's term also held over 200 executive orders, the highest number in human history (executive orders were used to overrule congress - basically saying "fuck you I'm pres, get in line, or you're a gay communist), on issues such as:

- Order #13211: "Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use"
(Appeasement for oil lobbyists, the order was to determine if "environmental or other regulations would cause 'inordinate complications in energy production and supply.'") Meaning general environmental deregulation. The Natural Resources Defense Council attorneys described it as "oil companies putting words in the president's mouth."

- Order #13223: "Ordering the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces to Active Duty and Delegating Certain Authorities to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Transportation"
(Consolidation of authority)

- Order #13224: "Blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism."
(Ability to blackball "terrorists" as defined by the State - freezing assets, seizing property)

- Order #13228: "Establishing the Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council"
(The creation of a secret police)

The list is rather lengthy, but the gist of it is that the US became a quasi-totalitarian State during Bush's term, and was dangerously close to tyranny by fairly strict definitions.

If the American government is willing to piss on the constitution and the graves of the founding fathers, rape the world economy, wage aggressive war, torture and imprison innocent people, and all under the Grace of God and Virtue of Patriotism, for the City on a Hilltop (All of these sentiments were embodied in Hitler's principle entitled Volksgemeinschaft) - then Canada is basically already an annexed state. If you live in Canada, it might be a good idea to start practicing: "I pledge obedience, to the flag..." Wait, is that how it goes?

- the reduction in globalization through rising gas and food prices (and thus, even poorer foreign policy; rioting and dissent in poorer countries; mass refugee migrations; instability; racism; militarism, and all the consequences associated with a food shortage).

-> We may have a less interconnected global society, reducing the efficacy of foreign policy and cooperation.
-> Globalization and decentralized information technology are the only true democratizing forces, and they are both threatened if another Bush gets elected (Mitt Romney is essentially a well-spoken mormon Bush, and he's ahead in the polls).

My point is that Americans have a responsibility to vote and to pay close attention to SPECIFIC CANDIDATES. Don't just vote republican BECAUSE you're republican, or democratic BECAUSE you're democratic. The American people are in a strange place. If you don't vote, and your country commits war crimes and dilutes your amendments and liberties, you are partly responsible. If you DO vote for a candidate that advances this agenda, you are also responsible. Unfortunately, there has not been a recent alternative to these two things. Instead of referencing accountability, or guilt, I would prefer to reference pride; patriotism (real patriotism, not the way it was used under Bush); moral consciousness; unity; liberty; justice, and all the amazing values that America began to represent when founded. The American people didn't commit these acts, their representatives did. So I leave the responsibility to Americans to take charge of their destinies, as he frontiersmen did a century ago. Reclaim your manifest destiny! Reclaim your liberty and prosperity! Reclaim the admiration of the world! Reclaim innovative and technological superiority! Reclaim your fucking self-respect!

We are teetering over a precipice, on one side, a technopia; wherein life expectancy stretches beyond death; art and culture flourish; ubiquitous emotional and physical well-being become the standard; the foundation of a unified global state that promotes human rights and the human cosmic destiny is born; where the deflation of industrialized costs of all goods through nano-technological fabrication breeds abundance and prosperity; where the united biosphere of Earth becomes united in diversity and vibrancy...

But below, in the depths of the abyss, lurks the promise of apocalypse; where nations consume each other for resources they never would have needed if they just advanced science to the next plateau (maybe 5 years of research before photovoltaics double in watts/$ of fossil fuels); cultural destruction (beyond it's already catastrophic decay - MTV - industrialized 'art'); racism and intolerance; mass extinctions of Earth's remaining species; unregulated biological weaponry running amok, killing millions; unregulated nanotechnological poisoning of the environment; global warming to the extent that low-lying lands will be flooded and destroyed, forcing millions of refugees into centers that can't support them, precluding riots, looting, destruction and destabilization....

I could go on for some time, but I will finish with a serious admonition: Your life may seem normal as it is, but if you live in the US in particular, things are bad. Worse than you can imagine, and if you don't take action as an American (by definition, historically, an American revolts when taxation of: health, environment, savings, land, culture, and reputation are enforced - without representation.), your country, and perhaps the world, will plunge into darkness.

You are being taxed without representation by your government and your corporations (especially the Federal Reserve and the private banks that benefit from the inflation of your savings). You really fucked up the past couple decades, this is basically your last chance, and even now it may be too late. Step up, vote, and for God sake, vote with deliberation and intent for real change. Put moral indignation for petty issues aside, and make your country as great as it's destiny once proclaimed. Or struggle and groan in ignorant and apathetic death throes.

(P.S. My personal advocacy goes out to Ron Paul, despite my "democratic profile" - first honest politician I've seen in a while, or at least a skullfully impassioned faker - he's like a highly intelligent grandpa who doesn't take shit and is actually willing to admit mistakes).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writers, mirrors, the night

Plans, plans and riddles of rules. Which of us is free? The muses call their blackened bellows:

"Time is ticking. Always tonight the light will be extinguished. Fear, and fear, and know nothing!"

The wicked stench of hindsight flowers pollute the mind with merciful mirrors, fogging the future.

Nighttime: dreams come - respites from biology overlords - the genes, the whip; tender slow-chapped lashes leave their marks.

Schizophrenic prosody stinks, its masturbation's un-lubricated shuffle drowns the sea and stars.

Onward, consciousness!

I’ve been
a riverboat captain,
o so many years…

I’ve been
seated in a circle
of pontificated peers.

I’ve been
Jesus, I’ve been Judas,
Heard ‘em cheers ‘n jeers.

I’ve been
pullin’ oars so frantic
t’words my dreams, n’ from my fears.

Now I’m wond’rin
whether God was in the
water, at the piers…

Yet I’m told
a telltale temperance
sharpens scissors into shears,

that with
plucks and pulls it cuts and culls
coarsened, old men’s beards.


I haven't posted on this blog for some time. It seems ancient to me now, rife with the reflections of a boy, for we are in perpetual contempt of our former selves. Upon the eve of a technological and (hopefully) cultural renaissance, we must beg the question: are these convictions, words so warbled in vanity but landmarks to drive the high-powered perception of future contempt?

In the midst of these reflections arises a poem:


Dreams aloft in still silence
where a giant sleeps
awaiting awakening