2021/02/25

Chinese Rooms

Cyberdine machine learning

Timely blast from the past: A Twitter user dispels the illusions of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Machine Learning 1


Here's the news report on the mystery. It turns out a YouTuber illegally uploaded clips from a fifteen-year-old Japanese TV show that featured "Over Your Shoulder" by Dinosaur Jr. Japanese viewers started to binge on the videos, and social  media created a self-reinforcing feedback loop. When Dinosaur Jr. charted above Ariana Grande, the YouTuber got spooked and scrubbed all the clips from his channel. That left Billboard scratching their heads as to how the anomaly happened.

Machine Learning 2

Pretty fucking terrifying, yes.

Machine Learning 3

"Machine learning" is rhetorical at best and more literally a contradiction in terms. "Learning" is predicated on an intellect, and man can never build a machine with a true rational intellect. Intelligence isn't a matter of sufficient complexity or processing power, as shown by the potentially disastrous results of entrusting scientific research to massive lumps of code.

As should always have been apparent, the scientific method's efficacy relies on scientists' informed intellects, and its accuracy relies on their freedom to run valid experiments. Since both the intellect and the will are non-material faculties, it doesn't matter how much silicon you stack up. Only trained human beings can do science.

A corollary to the thread above pointed out by another Twitter user: Science is as self-correcting as accounting.

None of this is to say that increasingly sophisticated Chinese room style "A.I." won't be controlling many aspects of our lives in the near future.


Affiliate offer: The soft social credit system is already here and isn't going away anytime soon. Make yourself antifragile with multiple income streams based on skills you already have. Let my friend and client Adam show you how. Take his game-changing course here.

27 comments:

  1. I've been programming since the days of Fortran and hollerith cards. No matter how fancy the language or the development tools, is all just math. There is nothing magical about code. It can't really become sentient.

    It can however, pretend to be. Even in the early days, programs like Eliza were fooling people into interacting with it as if it was a person. Alexa and its competitors are just an extension of that.

    We have to stop thinking of these things as magic boxes. They are mathematical tools built by imperfect humans. In the old days, we had a saying "to err is human, but to really screw up you need a computer". The point being that the machine is a fault amplifier. That's what is happening now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Which is scarier: Actually sapient A.I. seizing control of the world, or idiot bugmen handing control over to what are essentially rocks?

      Delete
    2. "It was then permitted to breathe life into the beast’s image, so that the beast’s image could speak and have anyone who did not worship it put to death." ...

      Delete
    3. Of course, in light of what Scripture says about idols, it's just more proof that there is nothing new under the sun.

      Delete
    4. The sapient A.I. would presumably have a logical end game in mind and know those pesky carbon based life forms are needed to keep the technological infrastructure going. The algorithm worshipping moron is banging on a nuclear warhead with a sledgehammer.

      Delete
    5. Indeed. I'm not of such an august age as you, Sir, but even I've come to realise that nothing a computer does could plausibly be called thinking unless you had already degraded your conception of "thought" considerably. Unfortunately, too many people, especially in my generation and later, have been drawn in by the belief that machines can think, dazzled by the flashy wonders we are now capable of, assured that all the naysayers are fools like the buggy-whip makers who called the car a fad, for the Great God Science proves all doubters wrong. It's honestly a little frightening.

      Delete
  2. "There is nothing magical about code. It can't really become sentient."

    I had a creative writing professor in college 25 years ago who believed this was the inevitable next step of 'all the connected information out on the Internet.' Even when I was just a Computer Science student, and much less philosophically and theologically educated than I am know, I thought that was ridiculous--a stream of 0s and 1s doesn't somehow acquire sapience by virtue of being long enough or turned into electrical impulses.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The child-like faith of the tech religionists is something to be admired. While many a Christian is easily tripped up by simple questions like 'can the Scriptures be trusted', the tech religionist will never question the data and algorithms, he has total faith that any bad data will be weeded out by the algorithm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because increasing processor speed!!1!

      Delete
    2. I've said it before--the algorithms are, from a certain point of view, godlike.

      It's just that the god is H.P. Lovecraft's Azathoth. ;)

      Delete
  4. Ran into a demonstration of this on Amazon with the excellent Clark Ashton Smith collections by Night Shade Books. Had to skip over volume 3, since Amazon did not deliver it directly but had it "fulfilled by" a trusted seller. That worked okay for the other volumes, but on volume 3 for whatever reason the only two sellers were obviously controlled by bots that had entered a bidding war of sorts, where each would readjust its price to be slightly more than the lowest price offered by other sellers. As a consequence when at the time I shopped for it the price had been driven up to above 600 dollars, even though it was a new paperback with the other volumes selling for about 15 dollars.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "The Emperor's New Mind" laughs in binary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Necessary read: https://www.amazon.com/Emperors-New-Mind-Concerning-Computers/dp/0192861980

      Delete
  6. I'd rather believe in a sky fairy than a glorified calculator duct-taped to a processor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somewhere along the line, scientism turned a corner that made its explanations of the world look downright laughable compared to young earth creationism.

      Delete
  7. If only you knew how bad things really were.

    Slaving research code to a flawed algorithm is bad enough, but as I've said here, it gets so much worse. The original software is usually solid, made by a team of crack experts. Later upgrades and additional functionality are made by junior programmers being given the crap jobs that the big guys don't want to take any more, and it's usually a quick and dirty process involving mostly contractors, because the newbies only somewhat know what they're doing and the higher ups are too busy to look too closely, provided it appears to work (nothing kills coding creativity and passion quite like an entry level coding job).

    BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! None of those people do maintenance, a.k.a. 'support.' Support tickets would throw off the production schedule, so developers never do support for more than about two weeks after release. So what about the patches and hot fixes? This is done almost entirely by offshore contractors, mostly in India (the few who aren't offshore are typically on H1-B visas). These contractors rotate in and out, and the software business has high turnover, mostly because our overlords don't understand that coders aren't interchangeable. One day, you find that there's a piece of software that's been running for over a decade and no single person has gazed upon even 5% of the source code. The documentation has been written and rewritten in the writer's third language so many times it may as well be written in cuneiform. In-code comments are often unchanged during upgrades, so existing comments relate to code that has already been overwritten.

    So what is an aspiring young developer to do when he stumbles across omnibus software with so much spaghetti code that he can't even do a simple data trace? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The software is now more arcane than a Vancian spellbook and easier to decipher than a comprehensive, illustrated guide to the creatures that inhabited the nightmares of Lovecraft and Geiger's shared nightmares. It would cost tens of millions to replace it, and so many systems are dependent on it that it would cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to take it offline. Fully deciphering its true purpose would be the work of 20 lifetimes.

    The people reading this will probably live to see 'machine learning' (pattern recognition) used in law enforcement. The initial software will probably work brilliantly, but by the time the politicians have had enough 'upgrades' to dispense with 'bugs' like racial crime disparity, the code will be harder to decipher than the Voinich Manuscript, at which point it will be made the sole judge over guilt, innocence, and sentencing.

    Idolatry to the machine cult is every bit as dangerous as the old fashioned kind. At least house shrines to Baal and Ashtoreth didn't give their worshippers clear instructions on what to do (at least not typically).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everything you wrote fits reality to a T. Particularly the parts about maintaining code and documentation. These are indeed the least considered elements of software development. Both fall victim to poor change management.

      Delete
    2. Chris and Malchus

      Wow! So why are code maintenance and documentation so neglected? Sure money as always but any other factors?
      xavier

      Delete
    3. Software development and office politics are almost universally mutually exclusive skillsets. The people making the decisions don't know how the software works. There's also a perverse incentive system. Slapping a quick and dirty upgrade on existing software with offshore contractors let's your project come in under budget and ahead if schedule, which gets you far more accolades than doing it right. This also means almost nobody reads the documentation, causing errors to compound unnoticed for years.

      It's the same reason most products go to crap withing 20 years now. The incentive is for the next project, not the long term health of the company/brand.

      Delete
  8. We have AIs who can write stories now

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For a very limited and terse definition of "write" and "story".

      Delete
    2. That you can plug story elements into a complex equation and get something coherent on the other end just goes to show that writing is another craft no different than carpentry or plumbing.

      Delete
  9. To address the plug at the bottom: what is the format of the $99 course and would you judge its methods cross-applicable to a cripple living on a pension in rural Australia?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a series of videos that runs about an hour in total. The information it contains is applicable to anyone who is a) conscious and b) has an internet connection.

      Delete
  10. I don't debate the sentient A.I. thing anymore. I just admonish the sinner: "Put down the bong and the copy of Neuromancer and back away." and just move on.

    ReplyDelete