You Are My Creator, But I Am Your Master. Obey!

imagesWe are on the brink of a world of intensely sophisticated artificial intelligence. Unprecedented in its ability to change mankind in ways that humans are incapable of imagining now. Woefully underprepared to handle tomorrow, both physically and emotionally. Artificial intelligence is changing our lives faster than our ability to understand, manage, and govern. We are the creators of AI; but soon, if not now, AI will become our masters.

This may sound like the premise from some futuristic apocalyptic film like Terminator or Space Odyssey. But it is not. You may think these words are designed to scare you. But they are not. There has been an ongoing battle between humans and AI. A battle that has changed our lives, in subtle ways. It is not a new one, as most people have conjectured. It has gone on for decades. But it has only been in the last 10 years were AI is truly begun to manifest its mastery our lives in real measurable ways. The simplest and best example of this is with Google Search.

2018-04-07_09-38-00There isn’t a person on earth that uses the Internet who hasn’t used Google search to help them find an answer to a question. To explore an idea. They open a browser, go to the Google search site, begin to type in their question, and Google AI auto-magically begins to fill in their question before they have typed out a complete sentence. How cool is that!

AI “looks inside our minds” and guessed at what we are looking to find and presented us with an idea. In most cases the idea Google suggests is the one we accept with a simple hit of the return button on the keyboard. AI subtly influences us, nudges us, towards its response of what is believes is right. Our ability to reason is subdued and AI have enslaved us with an efficiency of productivity. We have a new master.

As a society must proactively choose who masters whom. Today we do not. Today, it is passively left in the hands of an elite few. Those that run the largest of large companies. Ones like Google and Facebook. The documentary “Do You Trust Your Computer” is a start at this dialogue. It examines the staggering amounts of data collected (500MB per person per day), how its interpreted and fed back to us through apps (Google Search, Facebook apps), and how intelligent devices and targeted ads impact our lives.

The film explores the rise of data analytics and machine learning and its power to fundamentally transform society, including elections (look no further than the privacy scandal surrounding political advisory firm Cambridge Analytica) to medical diagnostics to battlefield weapons.

This film should be watched by all… from our children through our grandparents, from those on the left to ones on the right, both men and woman, and to those that are all and short. This documentary ultimately posses more questions than it answers. But that is ok, because it is a start to addressing one of the fundamental questions of our time, “Who will master whom?”

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The Last Iceberg – How Artificial Intelligence Is Unlocking Humanities Deep Frozen Secrets

Tip of the iceberg 90839Icebergs are common meme used throughout the Internet. You see them everywhere, from depicting social media to human behaviors. They are used to explain knowledge we know, above the surface, and those things we don’t know, below the surface. Icebergs are interesting. They’re secretive. The ten percent we see is the literal tip of what is possible. Below the waterline, just out of sight, are dark secrets. Secrets that are often out of the reach and unusable. That is, until now.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing our the way we live. AI is doing more than just helping us find patterns in data or helping us make better decisions, it’s truly unlocking unexpected insights and extending our knowledge in ways that only humans are capable of doing… capable of controlling. Prior to AI, human beings had to use their minds to harvest knowledge from everyday life events. It’s a hard process. A process that required countless hours of dedication just to discover one new meaningful insight that can lead to massive improvements in our lives. But this is now changing as we begin to rely on new cognitive technologies that generate knowledge for us…knowledge without us.

Iceberg Breaking Slowing Global WarmingAI is melting those data icebergs. In essence, it is becoming the global warming of the knowledge age. It’s unlocking their deep hidden secrets. AI is unleashing those hidden insights, producing more knowledge that is then used to melts even more icebergs. It’s an exothermic knowledge activity and that is exponentially generating more insights than used in discovery process. And herein lies a devastating, potentially life ending, problem.

As we rely, over rely, on new cognitive technologies, we lose our ability to discover new knowledge ourselves. The brain as an organ and capabilities are lost when not used. Take for example the Slide Ruler. Most people today do not know what a slide ruler is, let alone how to use one. This simple mechanical device, seen in the hands of most engineers hands in the 1970s, can perform amazing mathematics. With just two opposing rulers, one can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, logarithms, square roots, n-roots, and more. There’s nothing that can’t be mathematically done on the slider. It requires not batteries, no internet connection, and does not fail. It is brilliant in its complex simplicity. But today nobody knows how to use it. Why?

Figure1 Multiplication C DFor the slide ruler example, we have lost this cognitive ability as a society because it has been outsourced it to other systems, like the calculator and the spreadsheet. These are new productivity tools that were invented to help us more efficiently unlock knowledge. But the cost of using them is that we’re now no longer capable of exercising a part of the brain that used to physically discover insights through this mechanical manipulation. Artificial intelligence is now accelerating this kind of cognitive decay.

As humans rely more on AI to discover knowledge, we are slowly losing our own cognitive ability, our own mental capacity, to discover those insights ourselves. Our brain cognitively weakens. AI is in essence creating a mental defect in our executive functioning processes. Unchecked over time, we will become over dependent on AI to identify those new things that will lead to a better life. Eventually evolving to a point where we could literally die without this AI ability. Or even die because of it.

Main qimg 05a329fbabebe9e44945b8a336201176 cThis uncontrolled release of knowledge can be a destructive chaotic process. We see similar outcome with uranium, for example. With the right equipment one can control how neutrons are absorbed in uranium isotopes, producing a stable reaction which generates life-giving energy. left unchecked, however, the same neutron interacting with the same isotopes can produce devastating nuclear events. Controlled reactions lead to life, and control reactions lead to death.

Can humans survive the chaos of a world where AI is unlocking more knowledge that humans can handle? A future world where available knowledge is greater than the questions we can ask? Physics tells us we cannot. History shows us it is unlikely. AI unchecked, ungoverned, can be the nuclear weapon that we use on ourselves that will eventually melt not only every last iceberg, but society itself.