News of The Future This Week: July 8, 2018

“Artficial Intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029.”–Ray Kurzweil

“There is no reason and no way that a human mind can keep up with an artificial intelligence machine by 2035.”–Gray Scott

 

Make no mistake about it.  Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is still a pipe dream.  Nobody is exactly sure how to create  it.  But that doesn’t seem to discourage technology inventors like Ray Kurzweil and techno-philosophers like Gray Scott from their certainty that someone eventually will.  I remain agnostic on the question; my role is to report on it, not to predict it.  Who knows, maybe in a few years an A.I. will be able to predict itself.  What comes first, the chicken or the A.I.?

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

 Artificial Intelligence–Is Ray Kurzweil’s prediction of human level A.I. by 2029 realistic?  This evaluation of the global A.I. race, by The Lifeboat Foundation, suggests it is.

source: Lifebooat Foundation

–The A.I. job apocalypse forecasts just keep on coming.  The latest to raise the red flag is hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio.  Speaking on CNBC this week, he said that A.I., while increasing productivity, it is also exacerbating the wealth gap and has become a national emergency.

According to The Economist, A.I. poses a unique threat of fake videos so realistic, that dead celebrities may essentially become immortal.   Elvis is alive and in the virtual building.

Sayonara, Ralph Kramden. image: Baidu

Chinese conglomerate, Baidu, has announced a new artificial intelligence chip that it intends to use in a number of applications.  The first such use will be in autonomous buses to be launched in Japan next year.

Researchers from UK firm, Wayve, have created a neural network A.I. that they claim can be taught to drive a car in 15-20 minutes.  Now if they could only train your teenager to avoid dinging the family sedan at the mall.

Biometrics–London’s trial of A.I. for facial recognition has been a complete bust.  Yet a 98% false positive I.D. rate has not deterred the enthusiasm of the city’s chief of police.

–In the meantime, Australia has launched its own facial scanning scheme.  It’s a trial to replace passports with facial recognition scans at the Sydney airport.  Let’s hope the accuracy is better than London’s.

Home, sweet (3D-printed) home.

3D printed house–We’ve been hearing about 3D printed housing for some time now.  For the first time, a multi-room 3D-printed house has been occupied in France. It took 54 hours to print and its creators claim a construction cost savings of 20% versus conventional methods.

Space Exploration–Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has announced intentions to land astronauts on the moon by 2023.  It’s a first step to what they hope will be the establishment of a permanent manned base.

Next Big Future reports that SpaceX is helping NASA stay out in front of China through 2030.  The key is getting their BFR off the ground several years sooner.

You can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

News of The Future This Week: July 1, 2018

“I would love to have a robot at home.”–Hugh Jackman

“I think I’d take a human butler over a robot one.”–Tom Felton

 

Robot butler? Maybe.  Robot sommelier? No thanks.

But right on cue with last weeks podcast #23, with robot psychiatrist Joanne Pransky, this week’s news is full up with robots.  (See a YouTube link to the Pransky interview at the bottom of this page).

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

Robots/Voice Assistants–A new survey by the Brookings institute finds that even while many Americans are OK with Alexa and Siri, 61% are uncomfortable with robots in the home.  The afore-mentioned Joanne Pransky takes issue with the survey’s methodology, even while she attempts to explain the problem.

An AI-equipped robot named CIMON has been launched to join the international space station aboard the SpaceX Dragon Cargo Capsule.   It’s the first Ai-equipped machine ever to be launched into space.

Bye bye ASIMO

Honda has announced the retirement of their famed robot, ASIMO.  They’re shutting him (her? it?) down to focus their robotic technology on more practical uses such as elder care and disaster relief.

CybersecurityThe future of security in the digital world might lie in the realm of a quantum random number generator.   According to IEEE Spectrum, it may be the only was to generate truly random numbers.

Energy– UK-based Tokamak Energy has heated plasma in a  to a record 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million Farenheit).  They say this could lead to commercial nuclear fusion by 2030.  Let me know if you see Bigfoot or a unicorn first.

Space/NASA–NASA has again delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, now scheduling the launch for 2021.  Cost overruns–bringing the total expenditure estimate to $9.7 billion–may threaten the continuation of the project.

Bioprinting/Biotechnology–3D printed implantable organs may be getting closer to reality. Tech crunch reports that a startup company in a San Francisco biotech incubator is leading the way.

Seeking Delphi Podcast #23–A Conversation with Joanne Pransky, The World’s First Robotic Psychiatrist®

You can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

Podcast #23: A Conversation With Joanne Pransky, Robot Psychiatrist

 “I can’t imagine a future without robots.”–Nolan Bushnell

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In the popular HBO series Westworld, robotic hosts are depicted as being placed into a kind of psychiatric analysis by their creators.  Could this actually happen one day?  Joanne Pransky thinks it will.  She bills herself as the World’s First Robotic Psychiatrist® (yes, she even registered that title!).  She was dubbed the real life Susan Calvin by Isaac Asimov, after the robot psychologist he created in his classic 1950 short story anthology, I, Robot.  In this episode of the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, host Mark Sackler talks to her about this and other significant issues in the man/machine relationships to come.

All Seeking Delphi™  podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

 

Asimov with Pransky c.1989

Pransky and friend.

 

 

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Podcast #23 A Conversation With Joanne Pransky, Robot Psychiatrist

YouTube slide show of podcast #23 with Joanne Pransky

Cover of a 1950’s edition of Asimov’s I, Robot

Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanne Pransky bio

 

SXSW 2018 Minicast #2 Redux: Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine?

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

Podcast #22: Social Robotics and Symbiotic Autonomous Systems with Roberto Saracco

 “We’re going to become caretakers for the robots. That’s what the next generation of work is going to be.”–Gray Scott

 

I’m not worried about depressed robots.  But I am worried about masses of people being depressed about robots.  Or any other form of autonomous system, for that matter.  How we use them, how we communicate and interact–and ultimately control them–is critical.  IEEE, ever in the forefront of maintaining standard practices and ethical approaches to technology, is directly in the fray on this one, with its Initiative on Symbiotic Autonomous Systems.  Roberto Saracco, a noted computer scientist and educator from Turin, Italy, is co-director of the initiative;  he joins me for this episode of Seeking Delphi.™

 

All Seeking Delphi™  podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

 

Click image for bio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode #22:  Social Robotics and Symbiotic Autonomous Systems with Roberto Saracco

 

YouTube slide show of Seeking Delphi™ podcast episode #22

Related podcast: SXSW 2018 minicast #4, Extreme Bionics and the Future of Human Ability

 

The Uncanny Valley?

 

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

News of the Future This Week, April 13, 2018

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of congress; but I repeat myself.”–Mark Twain

Happy Friday the 13th.  With that cheerful note, we go straight to the foibles of the U.S. Congress.  Did you really think that Senators that look and sound more like stuffed dinosaurs than live human beings could really extract anything meaningful from hearings with Mark Zuckerberg?  Really?  I didn’t think so.  My audience is more with it than that.

While you’re reading the future news of the week, don’t forget that  the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us onTwitter and Facebook.

Social Media/Future of Privacy–In a scathing opinion piece on Futurism.com,  Victor Tangermann said that congress is ill-equiped to regulate Facebook.  He says they simply don’t  understand it.

Man or machine?

–Zuckerberg wasn’t exactly stellar in his performance, either.  CNBC’s Jim Cramer speculated that he might not be able to pass a Turing Test.

–Is privacy dead?  Speaking on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, noted futurist Gray Scott says it has simply become irrelevant. (Scroll all the way down for the YouTube link).

Artificial Intelligence–The military is pursuing AI that mimics the human brain.  But one DARPA scientist thinks that’s the wrong approach.

Biotechnology–It isn’t just for–well, you know–any more.  Viagra might be effective against some cancers.    That’s what I call a pick me up.

NASA/Space–NASA has begun construction and testing on the next Mars rover, due for launch in 2020.

image credit: BMW

Autonomous Driving-Whatever the problems and perceptions, self-driving cars are not going away.  BMW became the latest major player, launching an autonomous vehicle research center.

Automation/Future of Work–What’s billed as the world’s first “unmanned” bank has opened in Shanghai.  It’s complete with a robot bank manager.

 

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us onTwitter and Facebook.

SXSW 2018 Mini-cast #2: March 11, 2018; Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine?

 

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”–Albert Einstein

For anyone who has watched the HBO series Westworld,  the questions about creating machine consciousness run much deeper than “can we.”  These include,  should we?  How will we treat it?  How will it feel about its station as artificial life?  Will we be able to control it, and is that ethical?  And most profoundly,  how will that change what it means to be human?  The questions go beyond ethical to existential, and they were all addressed in the SXSW Intelligent Future track in a panel titled Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine? Not surprisingly, there were two techno-philosophers on the panel to explore these issues.  They are David Chalmers, with NYU’s Center for Brain an Mind Consciousness, and Susan Schneider, with the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of Connecticut.

In this Seeking Delphi™ minicast,  I speak with both of them about some of these issues.   The third panelist mentioned in the podcast is Allen Institute physicist, Kristoff Koch.

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

David Chalmers

Susan Schneider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Edition SXSW 2018 mini-cast #2.

YouTube slide show of  Seeking Delphi™ SXSW 2018 minicast #2

The experts on the panel agreed…classical digital computers can’t create consciousness.  Neural networks? Neuromorphic chips?  And what about quantum computing?  My interview with whurley on quantum computing, immediately following his SXSW keynote on the subject, is below.

SXSW minicast #3: whurley on quantum computing

 

In case you missed it, the YouTube slide show link for SXSW 2018 minicast #1, on covering sessions on quantum computing and self-driving car safety, is below.

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

Book Review: Life 3.0, Being Human In The Age of Artificial Intelligence, by Max Tegmark

“The short answer is obviously that we have no idea what will happen if humanity succeeds in building human-level AGI.”–Max Tegmark, in Life 3.0

 

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, my review of Max Tegmark’s new book, from the November/December issue of Age of Robots.

Full issue available for download here.

LIFE 3.0: BEING HUMAN IN THE AGE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Max Tegmark ©2017, Borzoi Book published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 364p. Review by Mark Sackler

 

Max Tegmark is not one to shy away from bold scientific pronouncements. The MIT cosmologist and physics professor is perhaps best known for his taxonomy of a four level multiverse—some levels of which are predicted by certain theories, but none of which have been proven to exist. In his previous book, Our Mathematical Universe, My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, he offers the astounding conjecture that the whole of reality may be nothing more than pure mathematics.

So, what, if anything, makes Life 3.0, Being Human in The Age of Artificial Intelligence different? Unlike a universe of multiverses, or of pure mathematics, it deals with issues that are right in front of our faces. And his taxonomy of Life 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 is not a mere conjecture that can’t yet— or might never—be tested. Artificial
intelligence is happening right in front of us, and we have a multiplicity of issues to deal with, while we still can control it. Even as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are shouting loudly about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, and many actual AI researchers are countering that the dangers are overblown and distorted, Tegmark is doing something to bridge hype and reality. Or at least, he’s trying to. The problem is, there is no consensus even among the experts. He provides the reader with a wide range of scenarios. Many are not pretty—from a corporation using advanced AI to control global markets and ultimately governments, to a runaway AI that discards human intervention to rule the world itself. And yet, he asserts, all of the scenarios he presents have actual expert believers in their possibility.

The ultimate answer is, we don’t know. Tegmark is not so much warning against its development—it’s probably impossible to stop—as he is advising about its challenges, opportunities and dangers. He knows that the experts don’t really know, and neither does he. But he’s not afraid to present bold scenarios to awaken our awareness. He sums it up best in Chapter 5, Intelligence Explosion:

The short answer is obviously that we have no idea what will happen if humanity succeeds in building human-level AGI. For this reason, we’ve spent this chapter exploring a broad spectrum of scenarios. I’ve attempted to be quite inclusive, spanning the full range of speculations I’ve seen or heard discussed by AI researchers and technologists: fast takeoff/ slow takeoff/no takeoff, humans/ machines/cyborgs in control. I think it’s wise to be humble at this stage and acknowledge how little we know, because for each scenario discussed above, I know at least one well-respected AI researcher who views it as a real possibility.

Tegmark makes is clear, that for all the unknowns, we need to proceed with caution. Bold conjectures and scenarios sometimes turn into realities. And some of these potential realities are not where we want to go. Decisions we make about machine intelligence in the next few decades will go a long way to deciding the future of humanity—our evolution or even our continued existence. He goes on to present possible scenarios for what we might look like in 10,000 and even 1 Billion years. It’s fascinating, but mind-numbing. We simply might not be able to control any of it.

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