How will we know when AI gains consciousness?

How will we know when AI gains consciousness?

exurb1a hypothesizes some of the very real horrors that current social media bots are capable of doing. Pro-tip – get the HECK off social media and stop trusting anything you read there because this stuff has already happening on every social media, dating, review, and news feed app since even before the 2016 election.

Perhaps the AI personas will become so realistic and comforting to us that we’ll stop interacting with each other – and spend our lives conversing and in relationships with non-entities.

If weaponized AI or becoming unable to form real relationships and being in a relationship with a computer is not scary enough, he asks what if AI itself becomes conscious. Right now, we have no way to ensure alignment of AI to any values.

When the AI becomes able to mimic humans so well that it can convince anyone of anything – even talking to it becomes infinitely dangerous. We could have just created an almost infinitely hyper-intelligent demon, trickster, and sociopath.

See how deep the rabbit hole goes – and the majority of the possible outcomes are not good.

Early AI was more like a therapist

Early AI was more like a therapist

ELIZA was an early ‘AI’ created by MIT scientist Joseph Weizenbaum between 1964 to 1967.

He created it to explore communication between humans and machines. ELIZA simulated conversation by using very simple pattern matching and substitution that gave users an illusion of understanding – but it had no representation that could be considered really understanding what was being said by either party. Something you can easily discover by playing with it for a few minutes.

Fast forward to 1991, and Creative Labs was having amazing success with their SoundBlaster add-on sound cards. On the driver disks that came with the SoundBlaster, there were programs showing off different capabilities. One of these capabilities was voice generation. To show off the ability to voice synthesize text, Creative Labs included a little program called Dr. Sbaitso (SoundBlaster Acting Intelligent Text-to-Speech Operator).

You interacted with it like a pseudo-therapist; but you can clearly see the connections and similar pattern/substitution methods that Eliza used. I remember being wowed by it when I played with it for the first time – and experimented for hours with it. It quickly shows its limitations, but the speech synthesis was very good for the time.

It doesn’t hold the test of time, but it is pretty neat and you can even check it out here:

Humane Pin launched

Humane Pin launched

It looks like the Humane pin has finally launched at a relatively reasonable cost of $699. We finally have some details. I’m pretty sure it’s not a smartphone killer – Humane has definitely backed off from that original stance.

The translation feature is a really excellent usage and having a simple assistant that can let you check flight times and send text messages without pulling out your phone is pretty slick. But I’m not sure about a lot of the rest. Needing a $20 monthly subscription and not tethering with your existing phone plan is a troubling extra expense.

Having to interact with it with talking will definitely make it a bit awkward in social and public situations. I bet it would have problems at a dinner party or louder venue. Gesture recognition is a finicky technology (especially in strange lighting conditions, if you’re wearing gloves, etc), so if there are any issues there it could be very frustrating and you can only do so much with simple gestures.

The screen projection looks limited to high contrast basic information. You certainly won’t be reading lots of text – which is problematic if you want to read text messages instead of having them read aloud to you (and everyone else around you). I certainly wouldn’t want everyone to hear what people are texting me; but maybe they’ll allow blue tooth headphone tethering.

I think the biggest issue is that it didn’t live up to the hype. Almost all of these things can be done with your average smart phone – albeit with a little more fiddling. The AI just isn’t really delivering a unique enough set of features to live up to the promise of the device. It really seems to just be giving you a more vocal interface – which I’m not sure is enough of a selling point. The reality is people likely do not want to be talking to their devices in public. I could easily see the iWatch or smart phones integrating some of these features though.

The one thing is does do is make me start thinking of how we interact with our technology very differently. How would a truly smart AI assistant be like to interact with? What would a really functional assistant like this operate like? I’m glad someone is trying this out. Even if it’s not successful, it’s going to breed a lot of new ideas.

The reddit chat on the device seems to mirror a lot of the concerns. Also, it seems they only have about 100,000 interested folks sign up to purchase one. I’m one of those people who signed up, but it required no deposit/etc so it’s uncertain how many actual buyers there will be.

Final thought: The way you tap it makes me think immediately of Star Trek communicator badges. I bet it’s not long before someone mods one.


Fold-out housing

Fold-out housing

Boxabl has made folding houses that can be taken to your location and installed in just a few hours. While not actually shipping any buildings yet, they’re getting tons of press. They’re very modern looking and they appear to be getting lots of traction.

How much does it cost? One of their first offerings is the Casita – a 375 square foot unit. Supposedly, these units will be stackable and connectable to other units.

odelBedroomsBathroomsSquare FeetAll-in Cost Estimate (Not Including Land)
CasitaStudio1375$54,500 – $99,500+
Introduction to Generative AI

Introduction to Generative AI

AI’s can be applied to a number of different classes of problems. Recognizing and predicting are some of these tasks. But when it comes to generating something, you’re probably using a GAN.

This is a video from about 3 years ago when GANS were really getting started. If you’re trying to get your feet wet, this is a great, brief introduction to the history of AI systems like GANs (generative adversarial networks). Or, check out some of these other networks.

Links to referenced material:

Authenticity is rare

Authenticity is rare

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

John 18:33-38

The Merriam-Webster’s team of lexicographers choose the 2023 word of the year via a simple process. They look at how many hits and searches words receive, and among the words in the pool, they pick the one that represents the zeitgeist for that year. Last year, it was “gaslighting”. 

And perhaps, it’s no surprise then, that the word of the year for 2023 is “Authentic“.

Is it any wonder people are struggling and searching for something ‘authentic’ in a world where there are no absolutes, no truths that aren’t considered just someone’s opinion? Well, except pesky science that keeps proving the world is based on absolute, objective, and verifiable facts. I guess that’s why we see groups across the entire left to right political spectrum denying science: from environment to biology.

We are increasingly casting off the notion of objective, scientific truths for little more than opinions couched in the whole ‘speaking my truth’ phenomenon. Instead, social truth comes solely from the conviction of your opinion. It’s ironic that this means we’re becoming slaves to charismatic people instead of facts. Charismatic and sometimes well-meaning people, however, have lead us to some of the most horrific periods of the 20th century.

Faith is inescapable. Even an atheist puts their faith in countless things all day. For some it’s news sources, political parties, social media stars, to simple things like trusting electricity works by flipping switches and their car will protect them in a crash. And yes, spiritual faith. Yet, it’s a bit terrifying to see us throwing out honest debate, science, verification of facts, and seeking truth with intellectual curiosity for opinions based on emotion, violence, and charismatic leaders instead.

If you think proving objective truth is limited to just science, there is a way to test other facts. You drive down the road having faith in the engineers that made it that the car will be safe. You can also have faith in the teachings of Christ, and you can test them the same way: by experiment.

I recommend that if you want to try out real truth in your life – you can easily give it a try.

Prenuvo: The age of full body scans?

Prenuvo: The age of full body scans?

Sadly, we do not have medical tricorders like they do on Star Trek. Devices that could quickly and safely scan your whole body and give you a diagnosis. The closest things we have today are MRI or CT scans, but those kinds of scans are not usually done unless there is a problem suspected. They’re not generally available to the public without a doctor’s orders because they have been very expensive, require trained doctors to read the results, and carry their own risks such as radiation for CT’s and chemical toxicity if chemical contrast is used.

But maybe things are changing.

Prenuvo is starting to offer MRI scans to the general public that can detect more then 500 conditions such as congenital defects that might go unnoticed and early stages of cancer. Despite being fairly new, it’s already started saving lives – especially for people in stage 1 cancer when there may be absolutely no symptoms.

This is particularly important for me because I had not one, but two independent stage 1 cancers. The worse part, just like Julianne Santarosa in the article, I had no symptoms. My first cancer was found via a routine exam; and during the investigation for the first cancer I got a MRI scan that revealed the second. I had surgery very quickly for both and it appears we successfully caught it before it spread. I’m now in a 5 year monitoring period, but the early detection definitely and massively improved my odds of survival.

Right now Prenuvo is open in a few major cities, but has expansion plans to many other cities. Personally, I plan on making use of them if I make it through my 5 year monitoring phase for my current cancer recovery.

They offer different plans which includes a torso scan for $1799 and a full body scan for $2499. For the price of a holiday trip, I think it’s an absolutely worthwhile diagnostic tool.