Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tech Tuesday: Thinking Machines and Sex Bots (A Mashup of This Week's A.I. Views and News)

A few weeks ago I wrote about how automation will be replacing increasing numbers of white collar jobs. In point of fact here is an example of this very thing. As I was doing a bit of recent investment research I noticed this comment at the end of a news story;

This story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on CZZ at http://www.zacks.com/ap/CZZ

This task used to be executed by a human being. It was called writing. But since investors were more interested in the presentation of data than in eloquent prose, the machines were more than adequate to the task.

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Earlier this month there was a showdown between seven artificial intelligence systems to see which had what it takes to be World Champion. In this case, the competition was striving to identify the world champion Hacker. Two million dollars was on the line, winner-take-all.

The seven different AI agents were projects of teams that hailed from around the world, coming together to compete for a $2 million purse. Partnering with Def Con, DARPA pit the rival development teams against each other in a CTF, where the programs had to beat each other at reverse engineering unknown programs, probing the security of opponent software, applying patches and shoring up defenses.

The article, titled Hacking and AI: Moral panic vs. real problems, anticipates moral and ethical issues raised by intelligent machines. After the section on hacking the author examines sexbots and their related moral implications.

Sci-fi writers have been worrying about technology for ages, it seems, but most of it seemed so far off in the future it just wasn't real. Terminator was simply heart-rush entertainment. The same with Minority Report and getting arrested for pre-crime.

But so many news stories are being flung at us regarding new technologies that one has a hard time sorting it all out, or what it mean. Should we be afraid as the Watson's of this world get smarter? The film Ex Machina purports to explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence, and how to determine what is true intelligence vs. what has been programmed. Because of the nature of the storyline it struck me more as an advertisement for future possibilities in the sex-toy industry, which this article in Tech Republic addresses.

The article is titled "The Campaign Against Sex Robots raises red flag for violence and victimization, calls for standards in sexbots" and subtitled, "Advances in speech recognition, emotion-detection, and artificial skin are making humanoid robots more 'human-like' than ever. But are we fully considering the consequences?"

This particular article addresses not only the question of sexbots, but also bots designed to "keep us company" as companions when we get old. The author, Hope Reese, is concerned about how this will alter us a persons.

Forbes this week also published an article on the topic of sex with machines titled, "The Future of Sex Could Be AI Robot Sex Dolls."  Author Curtis Silver pulls back the curtain on some of the creepy activity that is already taking place.

Somehow the effect of all this "news" is to leave me feeling sad. Are we really this lonely and unhappy? Will intelligent robotic sex toys make us happy? I think it will only make us more alienated. The soul yearns for an intimacy that is real, not virtual.

In the Biblical account of creation the first man was himself lonely. God, being a compassionate creator, made for Adam a companion. A person, not a machine or a toy.

As regards the future, we'll see what happens next. It somehow feels like just another Desolation Row. And a long ways from Paradise.

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