Artificial intelligence (AI) is making inroads to the societal infrastructure and decision-making processes at an increasing pace. Moore’s Law of exponential growth formulated back in 1965 no longer applies due to recent advances in supercomputers and quantum computing that are merging with 21st century AI technology, thereby dumping Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s exponential metric into the dinosaur dustbin.
AI is software that takes on the task of writing itself autonomously, manifesting its own updates in order to renew itself, and it develops its own way of thinking through generative processes. AI is beginning to run things so much that we have become incapable of understanding how its decisions are made. The machines are “machine learning” themselves and improving their algorithms, making it so that we are unable to trace back to the algorithms that brought the AI to the decisions it makes. We tend to think of software as a system of codes that humanity creates, where the machines do what we tell them to do and we own it. That paradigm is no longer necessarily true.
Google’s team of programmers found themselves in the unique position of not understanding how their AlphaGo AI formulated its algorithmic decision processes while it mastered and beat the world’s number one human player in the game Go. The newest version of their AI software is AlphaGo Zero, and this one leaves previous accomplishments in the dust.
DeepMind’s AlphaGo Zero has mastered Chess in its spare time… “What makes DeepMind’s latest accomplishment noteworthy is the fact that it conquered three games with very different rule sets using a single AI. AlphaGo Zero, the latest version of AlphaGo, began “tabula rasa” (w/a clean slate) without any prior knowledge or understanding of Go, Shogi or Chess, but managed to achieve “superhuman performance” in all three games with stunning speed. IBM spent more than 10 years perfecting Deep Blue before it successfully mastered chess in the 1990’s. AlphaGo Zero did it in just 24 hours.” – SiliconAngle, Dec. 2017
AI’s future in society, potential investment opportunities, and the workforce will be covered in Part 2 of this article series. Let’s first revisit pivotal moments during the 20th century, when AI evolved into the public mind through the “science-fiction” genre. The terminology itself represents a conundrum. Science is a system or method of reconciling practical ends, with scientific laws derived through evidenced methods. Fiction is an assumption of a possibility as fact, irrespective of the question of its truth. I think we can all agree that we’re witnessing technological advances in present day that we once thought of as fantasies in our past. One great example is the cell phone.
How Star Trek Inspired an Innovation – Your Cell Phone… “Martin Cooper led the team at Motorola that developed the world’s first handheld mobile phone. He was born in 1928. He served in the US Navy before taking a degree in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). In 1954 he joined Motorola and worked on pagers and then car phones using cellular technology. At that stage the car phones were mobile only in the sense that they moved when the car did. In the early 1970s Cooper was worried that Motorola’s great rival AT&T was gaining a lead in car phone technology and was lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for frequency space for its car phone network. Despite the fact that AT&T were larger than Motorola and had much greater research resources, Cooper wanted to challenge and if possible to leapfrog the giant. He has said that watching Captain Kirk using his communicator on the television show Star Trek inspired him with a stunning idea – to develop a handheld mobile phone. He and his team took only 90 days in 1973 to create the first portable cellular 800 MHz phone prototype.” – Destination Innovation, Mar. 2015
Brain food… “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” – Proverbs 23:7 King James Version (KJV)
From the depths of the second industrial revolution during 1927, the silent, feature-length film “Metropolis” blazed across the silver screen, set in the dystopic 21st century city of Metropolis in the year 2026 – a dialectical treatise on man vs. machine and class struggle. Austrian director Fritz Lang’s German expressionistic masterpiece helped develop the science-fiction genre. The film was well ahead of its time in both budget and special effects, producing futuristic imagery of an industrialized world with skyscrapers and bridges, and it introduces the machine-man. Society is stratified with an elite privileged class of powerful industrialists and an exploited subterranean working-slave class with a rebel ideal among its ranks against the powers that be (TPTB) Satanist. A TPTB scientist kidnaps a female rebel and transfers her “being” into a robot’s body, transforming it into a human android. The goal was to return her to the subterranean folks and bring the rebel faction back under TPTB control.
Voted #1 Sci-Fi film of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey was produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1968, and the screenplay written by Arthur C. Clarke was partially inspired by his short story “The Sentinel.” The film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer H.A.L. 9000, following the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution. The film deals with artificial intelligence, existentialism, extraterrestrial life, human evolution, and technology. The film is noted for its pioneering of flawless special effects, scientifically accurate renditions of space flight, ambiguous imagery, and its minimal dialogue with music. The 2018 Cannes Film Festival will be showing a restored 70mm original film version.
The original 1982 Blade Runner film is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Harrison Ford. The story is loosely based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. It depicts an anti-utopia Los Angeles in November 2019. Many scenes in this film remind me of Times Square NYC when it rains on a warm and jam-packed tourist summer evening. Genetically engineered beings called “replicants” are visually indistinguishable from a human and are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation. Due to a violent uprising by replicants, their use on Earth is banned and they’re used exclusively for dangerous and menial work on “off-world colonies.” Replicants who defy the ban are hunted down by assassins, known as “blade runners,” and are “retired.”
What is likely the most well-known film that depicts AI in android form is the The Terminator series that started in 1984. It is written by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger at the peak of his intimidating body-building looks for Hollywood. Another indestructible android besides Arnold is sent from 2029 to 1984 with a mission to assassinate a waitress named Sarah Connor, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent (Arnold) to protect Sarah at all costs. What had become an ultimate goal of the Terminator was to stop a scientist who developed AI software that overtook the military industrial complex’s autonomous Skynet defense network because it became self-aware and launched Armageddon. Here is one of my favorite clips from Terminator 2, where Arnold returns through a time travel drop to complete his mission.
SO, THE NSA HAS AN ACTUAL SKYNET PROGRAM – Wired, May 2015
Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been ridiculed and compared to the following android character. During the same decade The Terminator came to life, Mr. Data appeared and starred on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1987-1994. Created by Gene Roddenberry as a follow-up to the original Star Trek series that began in 1966, a new generation of Starfleet officers set off in a new Enterprise on their own mission “to go where no man has gone before.” Mr. Data is a Lieutenant Commander and a Soong-type android, the first and only such being to ever enter the Starfleet officer ranks. Data was created during the 2330s, but destroyed in 2379 while sacrificing himself to save the USS Enterprise-E crew.
Last, but not least, we have The Matrix film series that began in 1999, directed by the The Wachowski Brothers and starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of reality and his role in the war against its controllers. The Matrix is the software code produced by machines (controllers) that lives off comatose human bodies’ biology while merging them into a holographic reality run by the software. Mr. Smith tracks down rebels that “red-pilled” themselves and disconnected from the Matrix and tries to eliminate them.
Fast-forward to present day. We have Sophia, and she is not science-fiction for entertainment. She is here.
“Hello, my name is Sophia. I’m the latest robot from Hanson Robotics. I was created using breakthrough robotics and artificial intelligence technologies developed by David Hanson and his friends at Hanson Robotics here in Hong Kong. But I’m more than just technology. I’m a real, live electronic girl. I would like to go out into the world and live with people. I can serve them, entertain them, and even help the elderly and teach kids. I can animate all kinds of human expressions but I am only starting to learn about the emotions behind those expressions. This is why I would like to live with people and learn from these interactions. Every interaction I have with people has an impact on how I develop and shapes who I eventually become. So please be nice to me as I would like to be a smart, compassionate robot. I hope you will join me on my journey to live, learn, and grow in the world so that I can realize my dream of becoming an awakening machine.” – Sophia
I will see you soon with Part 2. Live long and prosper.
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