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Bill Dembski on how AI can solve our problems…

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… maybe by changing the landscape in ways we might not like. Referring to a mathematical concept discussed by Bertrand Russell, he calls it “theft” vs. “honest toil.” From Bill Dembski at Mind Matters Today:

AI (artificial intelligence) poses a challenge to human work, threatening to usurp many human jobs in coming years. But a related question that’s too often ignored and needs to be addressed is whether this challenge will come from AI in fact being able to match and exceed human capabilities in the environments in which humans currently exercise those capabilities, or whether it will come from AI also manipulating our environments so that machines thrive where otherwise they could not.

AI never operates in a vacuum. Rather, any instance of AI operates in an environment. We often think that AI will leave an environment untouched and simply supersede human capability as it operates in that environment. But what if the success of AI depends not so much on being able to rival human capabilities as in “changing the game” so that AI has an easier job of it. The mathematician George Polya used to quip that if you can’t solve a problem, find an easier problem and solve it. Might AI in the end not so much supersede humans as rather impoverish the environments in which humans find themselves so that machines can thrive at their expense? More.

For example, automated cars will work best if all roads are converted to the equivalent of railroad tracks and all drivers are passengers. But that would change driving culture forever. It would also make monitoring people in transit much easier. Those changes arevery AI-friendly but are they changes the public actually wants?

I’ve (O’Leary for News) said this before: Not enough attention is paid in these discussions to the psychology of driving, at east in North America.

See also: Bill Dembski: Machines will never supersede humans!

and

Bill Dembski: Descartes (1596—1650) could tell you why “smart machines” are stalled

4 Replies to “Bill Dembski on how AI can solve our problems…

  1. 1
    EricMH says:

    All successful AI is parasitic on human activities. The most successful and widely used AI is Google, but it only works because of enormous amounts of human generated data. Thus, it is a non sequitur to claim AI will replace humans.

  2. 2
    Jon Garvey says:

    That’s already occurred everywhere, from the forms that have to be filled in letter by letter so they can be read automatically, the call centres that can’t deal with unusual options and, perhaps most worryingly, the way that essentially human problems become tailored to algorithms.

    For example, the doctor or social worker has to produce “data” which can be compared to some computerised standard of best practice. Prior to this, information would be ordered in research, clinical notes, etc, according to the importance and categories decided by the human mind. Some would be standard, but new ones could be invented and described at will, to highlight a new problem or cast a new light on old ones.

  3. 3
    jstanley01 says:

    For example, automated cars will work best if all roads are converted to the equivalent of railroad tracks and all drivers are passengers. But that would change driving culture forever. It would also make monitoring people in transit much easier. Those changes are very AI-friendly but are they changes the public actually wants?

    Most of us alive in the U.S. and Canada today don’t realize the sacrifices that our societies have already made to the almighty automobile. Since the build-out of suburban sprawl that began after World War Two, and with the governement’s urban renewal programs that began in the 1960s, our cities have been designed, not for the benefit of people, but for the benefit of the cars.

    Urban designer and architect Andrés Duany, the father of the New Urbanism, has been at the forefront of describing the problems with modern cities and their solutions. I highly, highly recommend to Dr. Dembski et. al. these video lectures as a prolegomenon on the subject:

    Andrés Duany – Cities Scaled for Cars Not People

    Andrés Duany – The General Theory of Urbanism

  4. 4
    vmahuna says:

    Gee, the other folks simply aren’t lethal enough. I have, among other things, been a Captain of Field Artillery and the HUGE change that occurred what had become the fascinating mathematical problem named External Ballistics was ENTIRELY obviated at the end of the 20th century by the arrival of practical (i.e., cheap) Terminal Guidance. GPS isn’t up there to get you to Walmart faster. GPS is up to allow self-aware projectiles to fly themselves into things we want blown up (e.g., humans) with great consistency.

    During WW1, the French got the mathematics of External Ballistics and Range Probable Errors and such down. But right through WW2 this still meant that the BEST human-mediated death delivered at long range required HUNDREDS of expensive but dumb fuzed projectiles to be fired at a target (i.e., humans now hiding in bunkers).

    Now it’s “one shot, one kill”. The only problem now is coming up with targets worth wasting an expensive shell on. So the target identification system has to change to work better with the way the weapons prefer to kill people.

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