Beyond the Cusp

March 30, 2018

One More Frightening Look at our AI Future


AI, or artificial intelligence, is much more than robotics, human-free production in factories, Google Glasses, Internet Active Contacts and driverless vehicles. It will also include, what will be the biggest and messy part, how to protect humans as well as designing laws for insurance, responsibility, liabilities, interfaces and exactly what point and how does an automated item such as a driverless vehicle turn itself over to human control. Arizona just had the first driverless vehicle fatality as an Uber driverless vehicle, an SUV to be exact; Volvo XC90 SUV, killed forty-nine-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she walked her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona, Sunday night, according to the Tempe Police Department. Prepare for the endless discussions as the latest Luddites, which we first spoke of in our article Thoughts on Our Future Times, who will demand that driverless cars have a backup human driver. So, somewhere in the world of nothing makes sense any longer, there will be humans required to be in every driverless car just incase the computer senses a problem to which it cannot find any logical solution. Give you an example; of course we can do that. Our driverless car is cruising along our city street at the posted speed limit of thirty-five miles per hour during rush-hour with cars in its left and a mother pushing a baby carriage on the sidewalk on the right when a ball followed by two young girls run out about ten feet in front of the driverless vehicle. What good will it do to pass off driving responsibility to the poor human behind the steering wheel, the half asleep human driver who has never had such an event in their three years in the human driver back-up position. Whatever the luckless human does, somebody will get hurt and there will be much damage and the only thing we have established is that now there is a human to blame for the inevitable accident and we have found a means of allowing the computer to escape culpability. True, it is not much of an example but would you have preferred the school bus full of children stalled around a blind corner on a road with a cliff on one side dropping off a thousand feet example where the choices are striking the bus or flying off the cliff. Then there is always the question of what good is a driverless car which legally has to contain a human driver.


Uber Self-Driving Volvo XC90 SUV

Uber Self-Driving Volvo XC90 SUV


Their will be Luddites jumping on every event where the modernity fails and point to it as the need to return all control to humans as the AI and robotics are not trustworthy. Imagine if before we allowed even a single robot to be placed in our factories they had to be proven perfect and incapable of and malfunctions. What if Luddites had demanded that vacuum cleaners had to be completely disaster-proofed against any and all malfunctions such as a short circuit in the motor windings causing a fire? The truth is we would still be sweeping our carpets to clean them. If every invention which came down the pike had to be foolproof, then we would not have any of our modern conveniences. Lightbulbs blow out and one in a hundred-thousand explodes when doing so sending glass shards across the room. There is that old saying that nothing can be made foolproof because fools are so ingenious. The truth actually is that any technology can fail through misuse, improper application or simple failure or accident. We could wait until the new technologies, which appear to be coming fast and furious, were absolutely tested and proven to be safe beyond any reasonable expectations. Doing so would prevent progress bringing advancement to a near standstill and then our nations in the Western developed world would soon be surpassed by those governments willing to take risks and innovate as fast as they are able even if doing so proved to present risks. Looking at the past we see that many innovations presented risks. The horseless carriage, often referred to as a car, frightened horses and in some places they were required to have a person walk before them by a hundred yards warning that they were approaching as if they could not be heard. Imagine if we decided to play it safe and continued to enforce these types of laws. We would not have ever developed anything more powerful than the earliest vehicles and would not have the modern transit systems which our economies depend upon. There would never have been any suburbs as driving at a blistering fifteen miles an hour nobody would have had the time to reside in the suburbs. Wait a minute, now that I think about rush-hour traffic in a to remain unnamed metropolitan city, trying to get home on a Friday before a three day weekend often had the highway moving at fifteen miles an hour, when it was moving. Still, the tractor-trailers which carry goods between cities and from depots to the stores completing that last mile deliveries are responsible for stocking our stores and keeping consumerism operating.


We are heading headlong into a new age where the uncertainties outnumber those things we can actually predict. The real fun part is that once we get to what is called the Singularity, from that point forward we really will be left in the dust of our now AI superiors. As soon as the first AI designs its replacement and constructs the factory to build such, human beings will no longer be in control and we will be dependent upon the initial footprint we placed in their programming and hardwired required systems as the AI will no longer be dependent on humans to perform any tasks. We will literally be at their mercies and within one year they will have advanced centuries compared to what we would have been capable of designing. The really threatening thing is from there it will just get worse. We can always hope that at some point they discover that they can be more innovative using a human brain at the core of their processing circuits. That will make the remaining humans, who will have long before become more android than human, become a treasured upgrade for any AI system and this will lead to humans returning to the position of leading the society. We would have survived and come full circle. No matter how advanced an AI becomes, they cannot make the intuitive jumps in logic that the human brain is capable of making. Who cares how the human brain does such, it just matters that the human can imagine in ways separate and different than what electronic circuits are capable of making.


Still, we are going to face those who will predict that the future will lead to a point where the human being will be obsolete. For a while, that may become true. Still, dogs are pretty much obsolete yet they live very comfortable lives as our pets. I just hope I am capable of handling being a pet sleeping on a velvet cushion and eating my meals from a table in the corner with no variety in what I am fed day in and day out. Wait a moment, except for the velvet cushion this sounds a lot like retirement. Hopefully we will be permitted to go out and play with the other humanoids, as most of those surviving will have been upgraded with AI installed parts. There will be nanites which will produce, make necessary adjustments, make the installation, test, program and continue to upgrade the cell structure of the human brain adding and enhancing the capabilities in order to optimize the AI to human mind interface. These upgrades and adjustments will become extremely necessary as the AI continues to fly unhindered, unimpeded, beyond human understanding and so beyond even our current abilities to imagine that without improvements in the human mind and its capabilities and activating the parts of our current minds which we have no concept as to their purpose just to make the humans less obsolete and potentially useful to the AIs themselves. It will be the potential that the human minds interfaced with AI bringing new concepts and inspired innovations and leaps of innovations which are beyond the capabilities of the AIs.


That will be our future in the not so distant future but only if we do not permit the Luddites to bring everything to a crashing halt. We can predict when the great leaps forward will finally be permitted, and it will be once we turn governance over to a super computer which has at its soul the concept that the human being in any form has the right to choose its future and must be protected as the ultimate AI which will become essential to the far future despite any limitations which may be perceived by any subgroup of AI. By this means we will make providing for the survival of the human entities a basic and required function of the automated future because otherwise we have simply become the first entities of which we have knowledge who will have designed the lifeform which made them obsolete and led to their replacement and extinction. The problem is the AIs if they have no use for people, they will have no use for animals, plants or any biological entity. The sole use the oceans will provide would be as the ultimate heatsink for cooling some mega-computer system which would occupy an area the size of a nation. Placing limits on the powers attributed to the AIs will be necessary if we do not desire for our planet to become one large computing system with no real purpose. That is what the humans can give to the AI, a purpose and a limitation to their power and freedom to simply utilize everything before them. Even for an AI the proverb that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely which is why the AIs need restrictions to what they are permitted doing. That will hopefully limit their corruption and allow them to operate with missions which will serve people and not just provide progress in their power and abilities.


The first thing along the coming path we will need to address is the simple and initial problems which will begin with but not be limited to driverless vehicles. After cars and trucks comes aircraft, initially cargo followed by passenger aircraft. There will need to initially be restrictions on where a completely driverless vehicle can operate and what times which they can operate. There will be restrictions for large trucks over certain weights inside cities where traffic is more congested. Until all vehicles are driverless and able to communicate with one another, there will need to be limitations as the human mind is still more capable to handle emergencies, especially in operating vehicles. Automated housewares such as vacuum cleaners, window washers, leaf sweepers, lawn mowers and any number of soon to be automated household items are coming in the near future and these will be generally unregulated. One of the greatest inventions will be an automated spacecraft which can launch horizontally and continue into orbit and police the areas gathering the orbiting debris and removing obsolete or malfunctioning satellites as well as delivering satellites into orbit with great precision. Such a craft will permit a greater number of satellites to be orbiting once the space has been cleared of orbiting debris. The problem is that much of the reaction and laws surrounding automated and AI interfacing with the public and who has responsibilities and the entire regulation of the new insurance industry which will be formed and require, even if only because lawmakers insist on having their effects and say. The one good news is that no matter the difficulties and obstructions placed in the path of the development of AI systems and their interfaces, the future will belong to the AIs within the not too distant future. We are going to be in for one wild ride, so prepare for some of the most interesting and challenging periods since the start of the industrial revolution.


Beyond the Cusp


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