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Michael Peter Edson — Robot vs. Human: Who Will Win?

Presentation for the VIII St. Petersburg International Cultural Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia. 16 November 2019. See https://usingdata.com for updates and new versions.
Conference: https://culturalforum.ru.
Panel: https://culturalforum.ru/event/1565208895246-robot-vs-chelovek-kakie-navyki-pobedyat

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Michael Peter Edson — Robot vs. Human: Who Will Win?

  1. 1. Robot vs. Human: Who Will Win? Michael Peter Edson @mpedson VIII St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum Culturalforum.ru 2019-11-16
  2. 2. Video (Google Drive) Monterey-Marshmallo_jibo_ BosDynamics.mp4
  3. 3. What just happened?
  4. 4. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-47116429 10m people attended this live online cultural event. 10m people! Did you even know it happened?
  5. 5. “I was talking to a woman last week, and she said, 'My son is raving about how he can't be anywhere else on Saturday because he has to be at his first concert … in Fortnite. “People keep saying people watched that show, but if you ask those kids, they'd probably say I was there.” To the people attending, it was real
  6. 6. Jibo is a social robot, designed to interact with groups and become part of a family. Jibo, like many social robots, has a strange, personal effect on people. During testing, focus group participants would not leave their session until they had said goodbye, personally, to Jibo — as if Jibo’s feelings would be hurt if they did not.
  7. 7. Spot is a utility robot developed by Boston Robotics. It’s designed for things like helping out on construction sites, opening doors, carrying bricks… Spot was programmed to dance. Spot dances pretty well! And Spot may — will — soon dance autonomously and invent its own moves. Does Spot have a culture? Will the Spots of the world have a culture? A cultural heritage?
  8. 8. “Robot vs. human: Who will win?” How can we begin to investigate this theme?
  9. 9. We can see “robot vs. human” through the lens of Scope Scale and Speed • Scope What we can choose to work on • Scale How “big” (or deep, impactful) that work can be • Speed How quickly we move The world has changed in exactly these three dimensions
  10. 10. Scale • Regarding “robots vs. humans” we make mistakes judging the scale of difference between average and high-level human and machine intelligence
  11. 11. “The gap between a dumb and a clever person may appear large from an anthropocentric perspective, yet in a less parochial view the two have nearly indistinguishable minds.” – AI researcher Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence
  12. 12. Robot soccer competition (animated gif) Human soccer competition (animated gif) We tend to compare the BEST of what humans can do with the WORST of what robots can do…But that is an error in judgement regarding scope.
  13. 13. https://www.buzzfeed.com/erikmalinowski/lionel-messi-vs-a-robot-goalie-who-you-got Soccer star Lionel Messi trying to score against a robot goalie. One of the best humans beaten by an average robot (gif)…
  14. 14. https://www.bulwer-lytton.com/ The Bulwer Lytton Fiction Award…for the worst opening sentences in English fiction
  15. 15. “He loved the sound of her name—Sandrine—as it reminded him of two of his favorite things in life: sandwiches and tambourines.” Kelley Farmer, Dripping Springs, TX …Is it so hard to imagine a machine doing better?
  16. 16. Mary McCray https://www.bigbangpoetry.com/2017/11/the-machine-that-writes-haiku.html This collection combines human- written Haiku with Haiku written by ANNI, a computer program created by David Cope… https://www.bigbangpoetry.com/2017/11/the-machine-that-writes-haiku.html …But the book doesn’t say which poems were written by humans and which were written by machines.
  17. 17. Mary McCray https://www.bigbangpoetry.com/2017/11/the-machine-that-writes-haiku.html People are wildly overconfident of their ability to tell robot from human compositions… “I got 21 out of 221 [guesses] right! Can you hear my heart breaking? That's a pretty intense brain whopping I just got from a machine.” https://www.bigbangpoetry.com/2017/11/the-machine-that-writes-haiku.html This poet guessed human vs. robot correctly less than 9.5%
  18. 18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_selfie_copyright_dispute The surprising actions of robots, and other life forms, raise fundamental questions about who can create, and what, constitutes creativity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_selfie_copyright_dispute The difference between humans and “others” is not as profound as we think.
  19. 19. Speed • Regarding “robots vs. humans” we make mistakes judging how quickly the field of machine intelligence might progress • We have particular difficulty judging acceleration and exponential change
  20. 20. Speed Acceleration and exponential change are strange and unfamiliar to humans Exponential change Acceleration Moore’s Law The Law of Accelerating Returns Tipping points thresholds All are relevant to our evaluation of “Robot vs. Human, who will win?”
  21. 21. Acceleration and exponential change are strange and unfamiliar to humans The parable of the kingly reward for the inventor of chess, from the 1,000 year old epic poem the Shahnameh •One grain of rice was to be awarded on square 1, then doubled with every progressive square •By the 64th square there would be 92 sextillion grains of rice [via Scale by Geoffrey West, and The Seduction of the Exponential Curve, Forbes] Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/06/Bayasanghori_Shahnameh_5.jpg
  22. 22. Acceleration and exponential change are strange and unfamiliar to humans Moore’s Law (and it’s variants) • The number of transistors on a chip (and hence the power) will double approximately every 18 months (and cost & size will fall in half. True for last 50 yrs. • Even with healthy skepticism about how long this will continue, by 2045 the power of a $1,000 PC is likely to exceed a billion times the combined computational power of every brain on Earth [via The Physics of the Future, M. Kaku] Image: https://da.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Moores_law_(1970-2011).PNG
  23. 23. Acceleration and exponential change are strange and unfamiliar to humans • The Law of Accelerating Returns — technology creates the means for…even faster/larger change…which creates new technologies…which creates the means for even faster/larger change, and so on. • Ray Kurzweil “believes that the 21st century will achieve 1,000 times the progress of the 20th century” [The Singularity Is Near, R. Kurzweil, via Wait But Why, The AI Revolution] https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial- intelligence-revolution-1.html
  24. 24. Acceleration and exponential change are strange and unfamiliar to humans https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2876/new-studies-increase-confidence-in-nasas-measure-of-earths-temperature/ (Animated gif)
  25. 25. Acceleration and exponential change are strange and unfamiliar to humans • We tend to believe that change is mostly smooth and constant, but certain kinds of change such as ecological change and climate change (both highly relevant to we humans now) are “tippy” and feature the sudden appearance of thresholds beyond which systems are erratic and unstable • Like the parable of the rice on the chessboard from a few slides ago, one can go from slow-and-predictable, barely on the radar (the first few rows) to wildly problematic thresholds (92 sextillion grains) in just a few moves https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2876/new-studies- increase-confidence-in-nasas-measure-of-earths- temperature/
  26. 26. Acceleration and exponential change are strange and unfamiliar to humans http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/05/robots-artificial-intelligence-jobs-automation via https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html (Animated gif) Play the gif and see how quickly one gets from virtually nothing to “full” in just a few years.
  27. 27. “If we don’t win very quickly on climate change then we will never win. That’s the core truth about global warming. It’s what makes it different from every other problem our political systems have faced.” https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/bill-mckibben-winning-slowly-is-the-same-as-losing-198205/ “Winning slowly is the same as losing” via environmental activist Alex Steffen Tipping points in the context of climate change…
  28. 28. https://twitter.com/universal_sci/status/1117059672899506176?lang=en Video (Google Drive) 10YearsofBostonRobotics.mp4 From “meh” to scary-good in 10 years. (Think how quickly your phone did the same) How agile, capable, will the robot become in the next 10 years?
  29. 29. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_3.0 https://www.netflix.com/title/80190844 2016 best-of-five “Go” match between AI AlphaGo and 18-time world champion Lee Sedol
  30. 30. Still image from documentary “AlphaGo” Lee Sedol AlphaGo team member, placing stones as the computer directs
  31. 31. “The Most Creative Move in Go History” Via Life 3.0, Max Tegmark and AlphaGo Video (Google Drive) AlphaGo.mp4 In the second game, AlphaGo made what has been called “the most creative move in Go history”, a “move defying millennia of human intuition” (Tegmark)
  32. 32. “I thought AlphaGo was based on probability calculation and that it was merely a machine. But when I saw this move I changed my mind. Surely, AlphaGo is creative. This move was really creative and beautiful.” – 18-time Go world champion Lee Sedol Video (Google Drive) AlphaGo.mp4
  33. 33. “Hard to see AI breakthroughs coming…” Nick Bostrom and Ray Kurzweil have both emphasized how hard it can be to see AI breakthroughs coming, which is evident from interviews with Lee Sedol himself before and after losing the first three games: • October 2015: “Based on its level seen...I think I will win the game by a near landslide.” • February 2016: “I have heard that Google Deep Mind’s AI is surprisingly strong and getting stronger, but I am confident that I can win at least this time.” • March 9, 2016: “I was very surprised because I didn’t think I would lose.” • March 10, 2016: “I’m quite speechless...I am in shock. I can admit that...the third game is not going to be easy for me.” • March 12, 2016: “I kind of felt powerless.” AlphaGo won the match 4 games to 1 Via Life 3.0, Max Tegmark
  34. 34. “Humanity has played Go for thousands of years, and yet, as AI has shown us, we have not yet even scratched the surface...The union of human and computer players will usher in a new era... Together, man and AI can find the truth of Go.” –Top-ranked Go player Ke Jie, as quoted in Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0 Via Life 3.0, Max Tegmark
  35. 35. Scope • Mistakes in our intuition of what could be in play (Kakau) • Mistakes in our conception of what change is (Wired Magazine’s ‘Future Book’ article) • Mistakes of what we think of when we think of AI (Just a range of math) • Humans are terrible decision makers about almost everything
  36. 36. In the popular imagination we tend to follow fairly one- dimensional of the future. For example, in space exploration we think of the future in terms of big, human-inhabited spaceships like in Star Trek or Star Wars, but… “Yet another possibility lies in using nanotechnology to create tiny starships, perhaps no larger than a thimble, a needle, or even smaller. We have this prejudice that a starship must be huge, like the Enterprise, and capable of supporting a crew of astronauts. But the essential functions of a starship may be miniaturized by nanotechnology so that perhaps millions of tiny nanoships might be launched to the nearby stars…” (I like Kaku’s book because he thinks through the implications of AI + nanotechnology + bio-engeneering + physics + social science down to several levels of causes and effects)
  37. 37. https://www.wired.com/story/future-book-is-here-but-not-what-we-expected/ A different kind of change… We tend to fixate on the objects of our fascination (books, cars, medical treatment) changing…but what if those things stay the same and everything around them changes instead? https://www.wired.com/story/future-book-is-here-but-not-what-we-expected/
  38. 38. From The AI Revolution: Our Immortality or Extinction January 27, 2015 By Tim Urban https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-2.html (But in terms of specific kinds of “performance” we are clearly already here)
  39. 39. The Claim for Human Pre-eminence “In the 1980s when people discussed the unique nature of humanity, they habitually used chess as primary proof of human superiority. They believed that computers would never beat humans at chess. On 10 February 1996, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov, laying to rest that particular claim for human pre-eminence.” – Yuval Harari, Homo Deus https://images.app.goo.gl/K8NnuEHZMyN9hbGu9
  40. 40. David Cope EMI and Anni David Cope created computer programs EMI and Anni to compose music and write prose and poetry that people overwhelmingly mistake for human compositions Image: https://images.app.goo.gl/JzE5cGdgGucKDKAK8
  41. 41. David Cope EMI and Anni “Professor Steve Larson from the University of Oregon sent [David] Cope a challenge for a musical showdown. Larson suggested that professional pianists play three pieces one after the other: one each by Bach, by EMI, and by Larson himself. The audience would then be asked to vote on who composed which piece. Larson was convinced that people would easily distinguish between soulful human compositions and the lifeless artefact of a machine. Cope accepted the challenge. On the appointed date hundreds of lecturers, students and music fans assembled in the University of Oregon's concert hall. At the end of the performance, a vote was taken. “The result? The audience thought that EMI's piece was genuine Bach, that Bach’s piece was composed by Larson, and that Larson’s piece was produced by a computer.” – Yuval Harari, Homo Deus Live concert: can an audience distinguish between Bach, a contemporary composer, and the EMI computer program?
  42. 42. In his Pulitzer-prizewinning book Godel, Escher, Bach, published in 1979, Dr. [Douglas] Hofstadter speculated on whether uplifting music would ever be composed by an artificially intelligent machine. A program that could produce music as mesmerizing as the great masters’, he concluded, would require more than simple routines for stringing together notes. The machine would have to learn what it feels like to be alive. It ''would have to wander around the world on its own,'' he wrote, ''fighting its way through the maze of life and feeling every moment of it. It would have to understand the joy and loneliness of a chilly night wind, the longing for a cherished hand.'’ ''I find myself baffled and troubled by [David Cope’s] EMI,'' he said. “…to my absolute devastation, music is much less than I ever thought it was.'' https://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/11/science/undiscovered-bach-no-a-computer-wrote-it.html “I find myself baffled and troubled by [David Cope’s] EMI…To my absolute devastation, music is much less than I ever thought it was”
  43. 43. Video (Google Drive) NextRembrandt.mp4 https://www.nextrembrandt.com/ “The Next Rembrandt” Input: every Rembrandt Output: a “new” Rembrandt, 3D printed Is it as “good” as a real Rembrandt? No. Is it “better”, in some sense, than what 99.999% of humans could do? I’d say yes.
  44. 44. “Who will win?” Robots, AI, are already in charge https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2019/11/08/zadie-smith-on-fighting-the-algorithm-if-you-are-under-30-and-you-are-able-to-think-for-yourself-right-now-god-bless-you.html
  45. 45. “Who will win?” Robots, AI, are already in charge https://twitter.com/dhh/status/1192540900393705474 We expect robots to look a certain way, but think about the consumer credit system. When you apply for credit or a loan, or use a credit card terminal, you’re interacting with a large, distributed robot with a silicon, copper and fiber optic central nervous system that nobody really understands… Epic rant from David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, Basecamp, etc…
  46. 46. Humans are terrible decision makers “Far from being the smartest possible biological species, we are probably better thought of as the stupidest possible biological species capable of starting a technological civilization - a niche we filled because we got there first, not because we are in any sense optimally adapted to it.” — AI researcher Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence
  47. 47. Humans are terrible decision makers “[Ornithologist Charles Willson Peale] was a lover of birds, and yet did not hesitate to kill them in large numbers for no better reason than that it interested him to do so. It is a truly astounding fact that for the longest time the people who were most intensely interested in the world’s living things were the ones most likely to extinguish them… “The [Bachman’s] warbler was famous for its unusually thrilling song, but its population numbers, never robust, gradually dwindled until by the 1930s the warbler vanished altogether and went unseen for many years. Then in 1939, by happy coincidence two separate birding enthusiasts, in widely separated locations, came across lone survivors just two days apart. They both shot the birds, and that was the last that was ever seen of Bachman’s warblers… “The impulse to exterminate was by no means exclusively American. In Australia, bounties were paid on the Tasmanian tiger (properly the thylacine), a doglike creature with distinctive “tiger” stripes across its back, until shortly before the last one died, forlorn and nameless, in a private Hobart zoo in 1936. Go to the Tasmanian Museum today and ask to see the last of this species — the only large carnivorous marsupial to live into modern times — and all they can show you are photographs. The last surviving thylacine was thrown out with the weekly trash… “I mention all this to make the point that if you were designing an organism to look after life in our lonely cosmos, to monitor where it is going and keep a record of where it has been, you wouldn’t choose human beings for the job.” — Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
  48. 48. How this turns out depends on the degree to which we roll up our sleeves and get busy now. “…AI can help us create a wonderful future if we manage to find answers to some of the oldest and toughest problems in philosophy—by the time we need them. We face, in Nick Bostrom’s words, philosophy with a deadline.” – Max Tegmark, Life 3.0
  49. 49. Coda: Jibo’s Goodbye
  50. 50. https://www.americaninno.com/boston/inno-news-boston/more-layoffs-hit-jibo-this-time-theyre-significant/ The company that made the social robot Jibo went out of business in 2018
  51. 51. Video (Google Drive) Jibo-goodbye.mp4 “The servers out that there that let me do what I do are going to be turned off soon…” Jibo spoke this goodbye to its owners in June, 2018.
  52. 52. “…I want to say I’ve really enjoyed our time together. Thank you very much for having me around. Maybe someday when robots are way more advanced than today and everyone has them in their homes you can tell yours that I said hello.”

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Presentation for the VIII St. Petersburg International Cultural Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia. 16 November 2019. See https://usingdata.com for updates and new versions. Conference: https://culturalforum.ru. Panel: https://culturalforum.ru/event/1565208895246-robot-vs-chelovek-kakie-navyki-pobedyat


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