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Machines …

I have just finished reading ‘Machines Like Me’ by Ian McEwan – this is a scary vision of how artificial intelligence could present itself in lifelike robotic human replicants – I wont ruin it for you – it’s well worth reading.

Many of the issues raised in the book have been troubling me for some time and I think it’s worth flagging up a few points.

I’ve always been a fan of ‘science fiction’, but it would appear that we are rapidly heading towards the position where many of our future nightmares are becoming ‘science fact’. Many of the films that I have loved such as ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Minority Report” or ‘Terminator’ are nowhere near as fictional as they may first have seemed.

An article in the Times at the weekend slipped into the mid-section of the review was about artificial intelligence and how far advanced it had now become.

Why… could I ask… do we have f’ing Boris Johnson on the front page of the paper everyday …whilst quietly tucked away in the mid-section of the paper is an article that states humans will be …obsolete… in the foreseeable future.

Read that last section again – ‘humans will be obsolete…’ …. humans ….that’s you and me folks – and we will be OBSOLETE.

Maybe this is just a tad more important than some mop headed professional politician conning his way into the prime minister role.

The article in the Times advised that some time ago a computer controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) beat a chess master without any human help. This was slightly biased in favour of the computer and wasn’t seen as anything to worry too much about. Whilst very complex, chess has a limited number of moves (still huge I know) and wasn’t a huge challenge to AI.

However recently a computer, again controlled by AI beat an expert in ‘Go’ – (‘Go’ is a Chinese game of skill which has millions of alternate moves) – the artificial intelligence was making millions of alternate choices …per second – to choose the best strategy. The computer in this case was exhibiting self-learning which was infinitely faster than a human mind…. infinitely faster…

So fast was the computer thinking – that in real terms it would look on our thought process as we look on a tree growing.

Note that we are all being encouraged to have computers making decisions for us – in our houses and cars and offices. We all have computers in our hands most of the day (our phones) – these devices can manage our health and our wealth and pretty much every aspect of our lives.

We are gradually being made obsolete from every minor decision that we need to make.

We are being told that doctors will soon be replaced by computer and major operations would be better carried out by machine.

Cars will be driven by computer because they are safer than human drivers.

Our house temperature, our food in our fridges, what we watch on TV, how we relate to our friends on social media – all controlled by computer …and all able to be manipulated by computer …

I seem to remember in the ‘Terminator’ films the computers becoming self-governing – and within seconds the computers decided that the weakest link was the human element of the system.

They then cut the humans out of the equation and decided they were obsolete.

Could I suggest that maybe… making something with artificial intelligence… just because you can…is maybe NOT A GOOD IDEA.

Mike C