machine minds

All posts tagged machine minds

Episode 10: Rude Bot Rises

So. The Flash Forward Podcast is one of the best around. Every week, host Rose Eveleth takes on another potential future, from the near and imminent to the distant and highly implausible. It’s been featured on a bunch of Best Podcast lists and Rose even did a segment for NPR’s Planet Money team about the 2016 US Presidential Election.

All of this is by way of saying I was honoured and a little flabbergasted (I love that word) when Rose asked me to speak with her for her episode about Machine Consciousness:

Okay, you asked for it, and I finally did it. Today’s episode is about conscious artificial intelligence. Which is a HUGE topic! So we only took a small bite out of all the things we could possibly talk about.

We started with some definitions. Because not everybody even defines artificial intelligence the same way, and there are a ton of different definitions of consciousness. In fact, one of the people we talked to for the episode, Damien Williams, doesn’t even like the term artificial intelligence. He says it’s demeaning to the possible future consciousnesses that we might be inventing.

But before we talk about consciousnesses, I wanted to start the episode with a story about a very not-conscious robot. Charles Isbell, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech, first walks us through a few definitions of artificial intelligence. But then he tells us the story of cobot, a chatbot he helped invent in the 1990’s.

You’ll have to click though and read or listen for the rest from Rose, Ted Chiang, Charles Isbell, and me. If you subscribe to Rose’s Patreon, you can even get a transcript of the whole show.

No spoilers, but I will say that I wasn’t necessarily intending to go Dark with the idea of machine minds securing energy sources. More like asking, “What advances in, say, solar power transmission would be precipitated by machine minds?”

But the darker option is there. And especially so if we do that thing the AGI in the opening sketch says it fears.

But again, you’ll have to go there to get what I mean.

And, as always, if you want to help support what we do around here, you can subscribe to the AFWTA Patreon just by clicking this button right here:


Until Next Time.

I sat down with Klint Finley of Mindful Cyborgs to talk about many, many things:

…pop culture portrayals of human enhancement and artificial intelligence and why we need to craft more nuanced narratives to explore these topics…

Tune in next week to hear Damien talk about how AI and transhumanism intersects with magic and the occult.
Download and Show Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Mindful Cyborgs: A Positive Vision of Transhumanism and AI with Damien Williams

This was a really great conversation, & I do so hope you enjoy it.

“On The Public’s Perception of Machine Intelligence” (Storify)

Shortly after waking up, I encountered another annoying “Fear Artificial Intelligence! FEARRRR IIITTTT!” headline, from another notable quotable—Bill Gates, this time. Then all this happened.

Previously in this conversation… like, everything I’ve ever said, but most recently, there’s this: http://wolvensnothere.tumblr.com/post/108575909821/john-brockman

The [above] image comes from my presentation from Magick Codes, late last year: https://www.academia.edu/9891302/Plug_and_Pray_Conceptualizing_Digital_Demigods_and_Electronic_Angels_by_Damien_Patrick_Williams

Ultimately, I’m getting extremely tired of the late-to-the-game, nunanceless discussion of issues and ideas that we’ve been trying to discuss for years and years.

I want us to be talking about these things BEFORE we’re terrified for or lives, because when we react from that mentality, we make really fucking dumb decisions. When we skim the headlines and go for the
sensational, we increase the likelihood of those decisions having longer-term implications.

Anyway, here’s the thing. Thank you to all of my interlocutors. It was an enlightening way to start the day.