Archive for the ‘code’ Tag

Intelligence, Artificially Created   Leave a comment


Credit:  Brain Art Posted on Flickr

If only.

If only there had been a substitute pilot, perhaps one of artificial origin, perhaps the passengers flying that day on Germanwings might’ve experienced an eventless flight.

If only artificial intelligence was just like those robots in those movies, they’d come to the rescue.

Which of the above sentences are true?

Well, in theory, all of them.

Presently, the airline industry is investing in planes operated by either robots or remote operators.  Not exactly drones, these alternatives to flesh-and-blood pilots are being designed to work alongside a pilot or, in some instances, instead of one.  As it is, the technology is already present in F-16 fighter jets and is credited with saving the life of an American pilot during a battle with Islamic State forces.  Airbus uses software that guides the pilots and only seven minutes of the pilot’s time is required to manually fly the plane.  Had there been either software or some sort of AI present in the cabin of the ill-fated Germanwings plane, perhaps things might have turned out differently.

But is this an example of AI?  Not in the purest sense, but it’s a step in the right direction.  Software is making decisions to operate a plane in a specific manner – keeping it aloft – and as such, is preventing tragedy.

With this weekend’s premiere of Ex Machinaa new kind of more complex, believable robot makes its premiere.  True, it’s more about the character of the Ava, the new artificial life form.  But then again, Steven Spielberg already explored such a concept with his 2001 film, A.I. Artificial Intelligence.  Or, why not consider I, Robot – either the film or the masterful Issac Asimov short-story series upon which it’s based?  Heck, right now I’m reading his Caves of Steel and it tells the story of a humanlike robot passing for a detective.

One can correctly argue that true artificial intelligence is the result of a manufactured being (i.e. robot/android) thinking and feeling and dreaming and wishing, like Bicentennial Man.  And yes, Robin Williams’ character Andrew did, in fact, evolve to close as human as one can get, but he had the benefit of multiple upgrade surgeries to accomplish his goal.  But someone had to put that notion in that circuited brain first, right?  So instead of God, man becomes His substitute and creates an artificial version of what He rendered.

Now, here’s something to consider: if artificial intelligence is dependent upon its creator, then will the created be only as smart as the person who coded it?  What exactly is embedded in that code to get that ‘bot a-thinkin’? Will it reflect the coder’s own limited pool of experiences, or will the code be such that it takes on a life of its own via nano-sperm and ovaries, replicating its own Matrix-y ilk?

Ponder that one and see what your brain comes up with – artificial or not.

The Amazing Human-ish Head   Leave a comment

Here’s one of the creepiest videos I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s a work in progress by Australian artist Chris Jones.  It’s a fascinating study on how to reproduce a human without being human at all.  Visit the link to his website and you’ll be fascinated at all of the work that’s involved in creating such a realistic life form.

To me, it’s a game changer…and might even change some of those video games we all think are so real…

A.I. Vs. Me   Leave a comment


Famous actor who should have been smarter or known better

One always hears that sooner rather than later, artificial intelligence will win the battle over humanity.  People will become unnecessary, robots will rule the earth and humankind will vanish with a flicker of a dying match.

It’s true.  I read all sorts of articles from many sources that discuss both sides of the issue.  Many valid arguments from both sides.  However, I can’t get past one thing: humans build these things, don’t they?  Not machines, but flesh-and-blood types, the kind that need air to breathe and run on food instead of…well…whatever it is that AI runs on.

To be honestly, I’ve yet to see a real valid example of a machine building a machine smarter than it.  In fact, I’ve yet to see any sci-fi out there regarding a droid, robot, gizmimee or quelnodder, screwdriver in hand, lifting the lid off of the head, chest and guts of a counterpart, carefully placing a chip inside and closing it up, then miraculously watching that God moment when all becomes too real and rises up to become the conquerer of the universe.

Droids/Robots constructing improved units also presents another item for discussion: why would it?  What does a D/R have to gain by creating an improved version of itself?  That improved version might notice its creater’s a bit dimmer than it, find the kill switch and be done with it.  True. that can be part of the program and if the God D/R had any sense, it might write a code that includes a directive a al “I, Robot”, in that “do no harm” is a real and true order.  Even that statement up for interpretation.  If the God robot wants to kill its progeny, it’s preserving its own life with the successive, smarter D/R catches on that it has one chip up on its Daddy.

Bearing this in mind, why would a person create an object than can outsmart us?  Frankly, humans are too clever for their own good to do this.  First of all, we’re competitive.  Egos are sensitive enough as it is.  Some of you might remember Garry Kasparov losing to IBM’s Deep Blue, after beating it previously.  He didn’t take it well at all.  And then there’s that “Jeopardy” match with mere mortals.  Although that took some doing, again, people got the short end of the stick.

So apart from these novelty versions of AI, what else can we cook up that won’t kick our pride in the shins?  No one’s going to brag over their vodka gimlet and state to the bartender, “Say, want to hear the latest?  Remember that droid I slapped together in October?  You’re not going to believe this.  It approached my boss, got my job – AND – a raise!  Then, it locked me out of my office, drained my bank account and ran off with my spouse!  I’m lucky I had enough chump change to buy this drink.”

Of course, we all know that drink was expertly served by none of than Bob the Botender, programmed to sympathetically listen to life’s ups and downs, collect tips and cut you off when you’ve had a few.


Sci-Fi Hacks   Leave a comment


I’ve been reading a bunch of other people’s blogs tonight, and an excellent one, charliejane, has a wide range of subjects that thoroughly discussed all things science fiction, with a slant towards readers and writers of sci-fi.  Many participants eagerly join in on all the topics presented, and I even learned a thing or two.

One thing I did notice on the site was the very real question of science behind science fiction.  One person who was engaged in a conversation said, “It drives me insane when someone writing space opera gets physics all wrong.  It drives me nuts when authors of stories that feature computer hacking don’t know anything about hacking or programming.”  That’s a valid point.  However, if we’re talking about the future, it’s guaranteed that what exists today regarding hacking and programming isn’t going to be around 40, 60, 80 or 100 years from now.  

Jeez, I clearly remember IBM’s cards and the exciting career one could have being a keypunch operator.  In 1984, at my first real job that didn’t involve flipping hamburgers, I used an IBM PC jr., which is laughable by today’s standards.  I had an “A” drive and a “B” drive, both requiring floppy 5 1/4″ disks.  In order to print sideways, I had to put in a separate floppy just for that.  And oh, how jealous I was of the resident programmer who had an IBM AT that had – get this – 20K of memory on the hard drive.  20K!

Then, I got a new job in advertising.  The agency’s client, among others, was IBM.  Since there’s IBM offices worldwide, we needed a way to contact them that didn’t involve staying up all night to make a phone call for a yes or no question.  So we had this nifty solution called PROFS.  Again, we had a special disk we put in that connected us to the phone line, and we typed up a message that was whisked off to Japan, Australia, Europe – anywhere IBM was located.  Several times a day, we’d go and have us a look and retrieve messages.  Generally, they’d come the next day, so there was always something in the loop.

You know what they call that technology today?  Email.  You know what year that was?  1988.

How many of you remember that magical day when the freshly-titled IT guy hooked up a phone line to the back of your computer and you were instantly introduced to the great world beyond your desk?  It was 1994 for me, and we had the Internet installed.  I had email, too.  Netscape was our browser, and we used Webcrawler, Alta Vista and Yahoo! too.  There was this button on Yahoo! that said, “Surprise.”  One click would take a surfer on a fascinating ride around the internet.  I saw plans for plumbing the bathroom, horoscopes, blueberry pie recipes, and all sorts of nifty stuff.

Right along with all of this, there were the evil hackers who learned to take from what the Internet had provided, only to steal and corrupt whatever they could coax their keyboards to type.  I dated someone who knew how to do this and back then, it didn’t take much.  Today, there’s little that smart kid can’t figure out how to break into.

But in the future?

We know how programming works today and most likely can predict how it’s heading.  But there are things we don’t know.  My only experience with e-books was watching characters on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” read from them.  I didn’t know about iPads then.  All right, not the best example, but still.

All I’m saying is, true, it’s not a good idea to write about programming and hacking if you don’t know what it is now.  But if I lived in 2080, who’s to say what will be the shape of code to come?


Posted March 6, 2014 by seleneymoon in science fiction

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