Finding the Intelligence in the Machine

I usually stand alone when I proclaim how much I loved The Lawnmower Man, the 1992 film based on a Stephen King short story.  Despite it getting a 42 metascore from Metacritic, it was a seriously important film for me.  It proceeded other important films like Hackers and Johnny Mnemonic, and had my head spinning for years on the possibility of computer science turning mere mortals into super-geniuses.  It brought my head out of the books of William Gibson and onto the big screen, making the reality of the story much more practical.

So fast forward to now, where we have the revered futurist/celebrity technologist, Ray Kurzweil, now working at Google, who is preparing to live until the singularity happens.  Singularity is the day when the distinction between man and machine forever blurs — think Season 2 of Westworld.  Ray enjoys about 250 dietary supplements and half a dozen intravenous therapies each week.  The majority of this is nootropics, intended to maintain and improve brain health.

You have to love Ray, and also the great Elon Musk (bonus points- make your own Elon Musk facemask here) because they empower all of us, the ordinary, to believe we can be extraordinary through our beliefs and actions.  And these two are afraid of the power of artificial intelligence getting unfettered control of those that made it.  Again, watch Westworld if you want to see this play out on the screen.

Which brings us to the 2nd largest scarring embarrassment in America today, Mark Zuckerberg.  He isn’t worried about AI at all, believing it will fix the propagation of fake news on his platform.  I mean, it is great at finding and erasing breastfeeding moms, but can’t figure out if Russian actors bought ads.  Knowing what is true is his ultimate bet.  And my fear is that truth is in the eyes of the beholder (as our political system gracefully shows us daily), and when that beholder is machine intelligence, we lose our sense of what being human really is – a critical viewpoint of the world around us.  (bonus points – get a rundown of the debate between Musk and Zuck.

AI has many applications, most notably, that of taking over the menial things we do as humans, automating our routines to make us more productive and find new courses of action in our daily musings and running around.  Look at what optimization it has done for Uber and Amazon.  I can’t wait for my personal AI to take over, so that I can dose on nootropics, wait for Prime deliveries to my door, and wonder what I was supposed to be doing each day.

James Rice, Digital Strategist