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Tim O'Reilly: Don't Fear AI, Fear Ourselves (wired.com) 72

Tim O'Reilly, publisher of geeky books, "seizes on this singular moment in history" for a futuristic new book of his own, according to this interview with Steven Levy. An anonymous reader writes: When it comes to artificial intelligence, O'Reilly sees a reason for optimism in the fact that we're already discussing biased algorithms. ("We had plenty of bias before but we couldn't see it.") O'Reilly ultimately believes AI won't take away our jobs, and even argues that we're defining it all wrong. "What we now call AI is just the next stage of us weaving our intelligence together into a greater whole. If you think about the internet as weaving all of us together, transmitting ideas, in some sense an AI might be the equivalent of a multi-cellular being and we're its microbiome, as opposed to the idea that an AI will be like the golem or the Frankenstein. If that's the case, the systems we are building today, like Google and Facebook and financial markets, are really more important than the fake ethics of worrying about some far future AI.

"We tend to be afraid of new technology and we tend to demonize it, but to me, you have to use it as an opportunity for introspection. Our fears ultimately should be of ourselves and other people."

O'Reilly calls financial markets "the first rogue AI," while also priasing innovators like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos for moving humankind in new and positive directions. And he also calls Uber "a good metaphor for what's right and wrong in tech" because of its clashes with both its drivers and city governments.

"It's interesting that Lyft, which has been both more cooperative in general and better to drivers, is gaining share. That indicates there's a competitive advantage in doing it right, and you can only go so far being an ass."
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Tim O'Reilly: Don't Fear AI, Fear Ourselves

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  • Limits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Saturday October 07, 2017 @01:45PM (#55327863)

    you can only go so far being an ass

    Well, you can get at least as far as President of the United States.

    • you can only go so far being an ass

      Well, you can get at least as far as President of the United States.

      I call bullshit! Being an ass isn't enough! What you really need antisocial personality disorder, a (YUGE!) dose of narcissism and hordes of unhappy fools that will believe your endless transparent lies. The last part is critical because votes matter... but only in the electoral college.

  • Different (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nasch ( 598556 ) on Saturday October 07, 2017 @01:50PM (#55327887)

    Why should it be different in this era of cognitive enhancement?

    Because when robots can do everything (or nearly everything) a person can do, what is the prospect for employment, let alone increased employment? Before, people always moved on to jobs that machines couldn't do. First from farming to manufacturing, then to services. The final refuges will probably be software development, some retail, and a little bit of hands on medicine. Also top corporate leadership, not because computer programs won't be better than they are at their jobs but because they're the ones in charge so will continue paying themselves enormous salaries for something a computer could do for free. If sexbots are legal, prostitution will diminish greatly. Pretty much everything else will be automated. This isn't happening in 10 years, but it's happening.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because when robots can do everything (or nearly everything) a person can do, what is the prospect for employment, let alone increased employment?

      No employment, no moolah, no resources to survive. You can only survive by eating other unemployed people. IOW, and in the words of O'Reily, "Don't Fear AI, Fear Cannibalistic Humans."

      If something like this does happen, programmers and engineers (along with scientists) will be held accountable for making automated tools that eliminated human labor and made it possible for the man to give your jobs to cheap robots. The Man will inherit the Earth and her resources, even though he did not discover the princi

      • so we need to stock up on guns and ammo. may some c4 as well to blow open the locks at the food storage place so we can eat as well.

        • Question: Hey Google, what is this gloop you call Soylent Green? Answer: Sears employees after getting their severance package.
        • No, can't you read?. Those will become obsolete.

          We all need to stock up on automated gun turrets like the Samsung SGR-A1 [wikipedia.org] and other advanced automated solutions.

    • Because when robots can do everything (or nearly everything) a person can do, what is the prospect for employment, let alone increased employment?

      The process of replacement of human labor with automation is actually slowing down. Manufacturing jobs are mostly already automated, and service jobs are proving very hard to automate. Many, many jobs require general AI, and despite progress in machine learning, we are nowhere close to human level machine intelligence. For now, it is just science fiction, and when it arrives it will change the world in such fundamental ways that "jobs" will likely be the least of our concerns.

      Before, people always moved on to jobs that machines couldn't do. First from farming to manufacturing, then to services.

      This is obvious in hindsight

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        Some thoughts on why this time will be different:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        • Some thoughts on why this time will be different:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

          This is just the normal collection of nonsense, myths and fallacies.

          Myth 1: "This time" change is happening much faster
          Fact: Change is happening slower this time. Productivity growth is stagnating not accelerating.

          Myth 2: Demand will be flat despite falling prices.
          Fact: Rising prices means prices fall in real terms, and people consume more goods and services. In the past, this rise in demand has outpaced productivity improvements.

          Myth 3: Everything will be automated.
          Fact: This ignores comparative adv [wikipedia.org]

          • Fact 1: "This time" change is happening much faster It is happening faster. Industrial era allowed generations to evaluate and adapt to harmful change, while modern day tech has decreased that to under a few years. Fact 3: Everything will be automated. Automate enough and it will be like you automated everything. The displaced and long-term jobless are affected even more by not receiving any of the jobs, much less anything of comparable quality. Fact 4: Productivity improvements cause poverty. They
            • Fact 1: "This time" change is happening much faster

              Nonsense. Productivity growth is stagnant, and has been since 2007. That is very well documented, and is the main reason that wage growth has also been stagnant.

              Between 1880 and 1920, 40% of the the population went from farms to factories. Nothing like that is happening today. 5 million people drive for a living. That is THREE PERCENT of the work force. Those jobs may be wiped out by SDCs over ten years or so. That is a far less dramatic change.

              The "deep learning" revolution started in 2006. How man

          • by Boronx ( 228853 )

            "Productivity improvements not only bring prosperity and rising living standards, they are the only thing that will do so"

            Far from the only things. Any efficiency improvement will tend to raise living standards. That could be on the demand side as well as the production side. So will opening new lands, perhaps by global warming.

          • by nasch ( 598556 )

            I would be interested in any evidence for these:

            - Productivity growth is stagnating not accelerating.
            - There will always be jobs where humans are relatively better than machines.

            By the second one, I assume you mean there will be enough of those jobs to be significant to employment on a national or global scale, not just that at least two people will be better at something than machines. And I am taking you literally when you say always - meaning for the remainder of the existence of humanity.

  • I have seen the enemy; it is us.
    --
    Sir Donald Sinden

  • it would be anti-PC. Or anti-internet in the 90's
    • Weren't you on slashdot in the 90s? There were just as many luddites as there are here now.

      • Whoops thought your uid was 6 digits not 7. Anyhow, yeah, even techo geeks are afraid of technology. Sometimes justified, often not.

      • Yes, uid is new. People weren't as anti tech as they are now though.Eg, drones used to be popular and cool here because they really opened a lot of possibilities of what you could do. Like fpv flying into dangerous situations or maybe something like changing a light bulb on top of a 1,000m radio tower or drug delivery to remote island. I remember a team was using a rat or fishbrain to fly a jet simulation.Now any mention of drone is largely met with Ima go get my shotgun. From gizmodo in 2008 We'll be hon
  • People who say "AI and smart automation will not (net) reduce jobs" are relying on a general denial that certain fundamentals will or can change.
    They can't imagine fundamental change of almost anything. Either cognitively they can't imagine it, or more likely, emotionally, they can't accept it and so employ irrational psychologically defensive denial.

    These are the same people who say things like "solar and wind power can never be more than X percent of our energy mix" where X is usually somewhere around 10

  • Because when robots can do everything (or nearly everything) a person can do, what is the prospect for employment, let alone increased employment?

    Automation and ever 'smarter' machines needing ever-less human intervention has been going on since the Industrial Revolution. If people work less because machines do all the work, that means more spare time for the people. In today's day, despite all the complaining, people have never had more spare time to do with as they wish.

    Think of a Dickensian urchin in a garment factory, or that poor bastard from the 12th century who spent all day in the mud or behind some ox pulling a plow. Or leave the 1st world a

    • Most of my friends from college are either retired or really don't have to work if they don't want. And that started in our late 30's/early forties.
    • by nasch ( 598556 )

      If people work less because machines do all the work, that means more spare time for the people.

      That's absolutely right. The problem is that being able to eat and having somewhere to live generally depends on getting paid to do work. When most people have nothing but free time, how do they get food and shelter? We need to figure that out.

      • Fundamentally, work exists because work = food & shelter.

        Machines work for free = cheaper food & shelter./p>

        More and smarter machines = ever cheaper food & shelter.

        Enough really smart machines = free food & shelter? Maybe. But so far that is the trend.

        • More and smarter machines = ever cheaper food & shelter.

          Except no. Food is getting more expensive now due to climate change, and shelter is getting more expensive now due to bank fraud.

        • by nasch ( 598556 )

          We would need to change our society though. Why would the robot owners give away the products of the robots for free? If there are very few workers, how will anyone have money to buy those products? Having robots make all our stuff for free sounds great, but I don't think we can get there from here if we just let it happen. Something fundamental has to change.

    • If people work less because machines do all the work, that means more spare time for the people.

      Or it means more spare (or if you prefer, superfluous) people for the ruling class.

  • I have never been afraid of technology. But people and societies are often not ready for the extra power that technology grants them. There are two ways to look at this: 1) engineers should know that people can't handle this kind of power or 2) people are responsible for their own actions. Obviously we engineers would prefer the second one even if both are partially true.

    With the Logan's Run level of turnover in engineering, engineers are rarely in a position to control the technology they create. And

    • by ganv ( 881057 )

      Thanks. As the post says: "Our fears ultimately should be of ourselves and other people." Tim O'Reily seems to have great optimism about the outcome of "weaving our intelligence together into a greater whole." But misses two major problems: 1) there will be a lot of dysfunction and evil woven into that whole and 2) what emerges from weaving of our intelligence together will not be controlled or even really accessible to individual humans. Biological minds have been individual for hundreds of milliion

  • It is the unforeseen and unintended consequences that could be an issue.
    There is always a risk when new change comes. Since the real world never stays static for long.

    As an example from the world of Pretend.

    Assimov's 3 Laws

    The 3 Laws of Robots [youtube.com]

    Revolution! But Whose?

    The 3 Laws are Perfect! [youtube.com]

    When ever anyone says they know for a fact, that yada, yada yada IS how things will work out.
    Or such and such can never happen. I tend to take a closer look.
  • ...and that seems to be a serious problem.

    Before we talk about bias in results, we have to be able to speak openly about reality without condemnation and public lynching.

    If an "AI" system (ok we all know they're not actual AIs) says "black defendant X is more likely re-criminalize than white defendant Y (with almost exactly the same background), parole Y but do not parole X"...there are two possibilities.

    Possibility 1 is that the system has derived its data from biased human sources, and thus is reflecting

  • When AI takes over, it will be with our consent. Humans will simply accept their higher efficiency at accomplishing tasks we feel are too tedious or time consuming to do ourselves. We have already accepted calculators for performing math equations and spell-checker for keeping our words correct. The more people don't want to sweat the details, the more reliant on AI we will become, until they literally run the very basics our our day-to-day lives.
    • When AI takes over, it will be with our consent.

      "Our"? Who is this "us" you are implying? There is no "us", no "we", without a "them".

  • Easy to say when he's not losing anything.
  • I really don't know how else to say this. The people complaining about "DEY TOOK OUR JERBS" are literally retarded. They have no mental capacity to learn new skills or to engage their own ambitions. All they do is sit around like vegetable complaining that they have no jobs. If someone hands them a job, what do they do? They sit around complaining how terrible their jobs are, and they fuck up until they are fired because who the fuck wants these retards around anyway? Fucking cancerous shits.

    AI isn't going

    • And just as a followup to this, the next world war is not going to be between USA and North Korea or USA and China or USA and whoever the fuck. It's going to be smart people against stupid people, and I for one hope smart people win.
      • by Whibla ( 210729 )

        I really don't know how else to say this.

        For someone who clearly thinks they're one of the smart people your posts demonstrate a remarkable lack of vision, a dearth of wisdom, and a stunning disregard for the welfare of other human beings.

        You should probably let go of some of your bitterness and bile, before you do yourself (or others) an injury...

        • I'll happily support anyone who dares challenge preconceptions or who try to make their own way in life. I will not, however, babysit incompetents or carry people who have no business being carried.

          Fat people who eat themselves to death, stupid people who can't conceive of something to do with their lives, and fear mongering idiots who are afraid of their own shadows. These are all people who have no place in the world of tomorrow.

          It's about time we go back to letting evolution do what it's supposed to do.

  • So, he's suggesting that we'll all become some small part of the Borg? Yeah, that's progress. Thanks, I'll pass. And really, you want to hold up Bezos and all of his anticompetitive practices as an example of not being an ass? Sorry, I don't share the opinion.

"If you can, help others. If you can't, at least don't hurt others." -- the Dalai Lama

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