Artificial Intelligence, considered: Talking with John Markoff about Machines of Loving Grace

71IE0kdScML

Literary podcaster Rick Kleffer writes, "I must admit that it was too much fun to sit down with John Markoff and talk (MP3) about his book Machines of Loving Grace. Long ago, I booted up a creaking, mothballed version of one of the first Xerox minicomputers equipped with a mouse to extract legacy software for E-mu. Fifteen years later I was at the first Singularity Summit; the book was a trip down many revisions of memory road."

John Markoff’s ‘Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robot’ is a fascinating, character-driven vision of how the recent past created the present and is shaping the near future. The strong and easily understood conflict at the heart of this work gives readers an easy means of grasping the increasingly complicated reality around us. If we do not understand this history, the chances are that we will not have the opportunity to be doomed to repeat it.

Our technological ecology began in two computer labs in Stanford in the early sixties. In one lab, John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial intelligence” with the intention of creating a robot that could think like, move like and replace a human in ten years. On the opposite side of the campus, Douglas Englebart wanted to make it easier for scholars to collaborate using an increasingly vast amount of information. He called it IA, Intelligence Augmentation as a direct response to AI. Thus were born two very different design philosophies that still drive the shape of our technology today – and will continue to do so in the future.

Read the rest

Missing from the computer science curriculum

"Unlearning Object-Oriented Programming," "Classical Software Studies," "Writing Fast Code in Slow Languages," "User Experience of Command Line Tools," and "Obsessions of the Programmer Mind." Read the rest

The (real) hard problem of AI

It's not making software that can solve our problems: it's figuring out how to pose those problems so that the software doesn't bite us in the ass. Read the rest

Latent doglizards of cheeseglopping pizza-ads

Take one Google Inceptionism neural-net system, which, when fed its own output over and over, begins to hallucinate dogish-lizardoids in random noise; add one supercut of cheese-porn pizza ads; stir thoroughly and strain. (via JWZ) Read the rest

Fhtagn! The inceptionized route from noise to latent doglizards, in 5:36

Take Google Research's "inceptionism" white-paper on AI-based pattern matching and feed it random noise, then recurse the output over and over, and the deep doglizards of reality come out to play. Read the rest

Calvin and Markov: text-chaining new, weird computer humor

Josh Millard's Calvin and Markov uses a small perl script to mine transcripts of Calvin and Hobbes strips using Markov chains to make new, weird, computer humor. Read the rest

Not a bug

[source] Read the rest

The Y2Gay Problem

A meditation on the problem of updating bureaucracies' databases that presently only support reciprocal "husband-wife" relationships, but not "husband-husband" or "wife-wife". Read the rest

Teaching image-recognition algorithms to produce nightmarish hellscapes

In "Inceptionism," scientists at Google Research describe their work training neural nets with sets of images, then tweaking the "layers" of neural net nodes to produce weird outcomes. Read the rest

Rudy Rucker's massive volume of journals now out!

Rudy Rucker -- mathematician, cyberpunk, computer scientist, gonzo hoopy frood happy mutant -- has released an 828 page volume of his journals! Read the rest

FBI's crypto backdoor plans require them to win the war on general purpose computing

The FBI wants backdoors in all your crypto, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron made backdoors an election promise, but as Stanford lawyer/computer scientist Jonathan Mayer writes, there's no way to effectively backdoor modern platforms without abolishing the whole idea of computers as we know them, replacing them with an imaginary and totalitarian computing ecosystem that does not exist and probably never will. Read the rest

Byzantine fault-tolerance considered harmful

No matter what we do to make out networks better, we make them worse. Read the rest

Kickstarting a new volume of Rudy Rucker's journals

The wild and talented cyberpunk original Rudy Rucker is kickstarting a volume of his journals, from 1990-2014, inspired by Kafka's journals, and "as long as three or four novels put together." Read the rest

Your voice-to-text speech is recorded and sent to strangers

Redditor Fallenmyst just started a job at Walk N'talk Technologies, where she listens to randomly sampled speech-to-text recordings from our mobile phones, correcting machine conversions. Read the rest

Lauren Ipsum: The Phantom Tollbooth meets Young Ladies' Illustrated Primer

Lauren Ipsum is an absolutely brilliant kids' book about computer science, and it never mentions computer science—it's a series of witty, charming, and educational parables about the fundamentals that underpin the discipline.

Algorithmic cruelty

With its special end-of-year message, Facebook wants to show you, over and over, what your year "looked like"; in Eric Meyer's case, the photo was of his daughter, who died this year: "For those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year." Read the rest

Algorithmically evolved masks that appear as faces to facial-recognition software

Sterling Crispin uses evolutionary algorithms to produce masks that satisfy facial recognition algorithms: "my goal is to show the machine what it’s looking for, to hold a mirror up to the all-seeing eye of the digital-panopticon we live in and let it stare back into its own mind." Read the rest

More posts