Expert Explains Why Elon Musk Is Dead Wrong About Artificial Intelligence


I have a great deal of respect for the vision of Mr. Elon Musk, (Tesla, SpaceX) and have even become something of a SpaceX groupie, watching the SpaceX youtube streaming of every (yes, every) launch.

For the last few years, he has been quite vocal about his fears of AI! And many others have joined in with him. Please see these:

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Existential risk from artificial general intelligence or Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse

Having spent the better part of 40+ years in deep IT (Information Technology), I have become somewhat jaded to the alarmist views of these sorts, in documentaries, and Sci-Fi flicks. You know the score, man builds a machine, machine becomes conscious, and attacks its creator; just as the angels and man himself is supposed to have rebelled against their creator (Paradise Lost(1667), John Milton). So I went into this latest in a long line of the latest visions of this theme, with much skepticism.

My usual reaction is that these people have been watching too many Sci-Fi flicks.

Mr. Elon Musk recently recommended that everyone should see a new documentary called, “Do You Trust This Computer? Yes/No” directed by Chris Paine and produced by Diamond Docs and Papercut Films.

See Do You Trust This Computer? Yes/No

Mr. Elon Musk was so adamant about this point, he even paid for me and everyone else to see it on stream from the above website the weekend of, April 7-8, 2018. With an invitation like that, how could I say no to Mr. Musk? So I indeed watched it. Thank you Muster Mark! This is my reaction.

My first impression was that “Do You Trust…..” is actually very well made, but is a rather high-level survey of current working projects in IT. Its designed for a wide audience and as a consequence, avoids any discussion of detail which is as it should be. But it also introduces current political figures into the discussion which I found regrettable in that if you wanted to reach the widest possible audience why would you politicize a problem in Tech? But these were not my main reactions.

I was troubled and concerned about the documentary’s central core subject of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and its total lack of definition and focus about AI. No one viewing this film could possibly come out of it with any understanding of AI and why it might or might not be a threat.

So what indeed is this AI of which Mr. Elon Musk is so afraid?

Artificial intelligence according to Wikipedia

Long before the computer, your home thermostat was controlling the temperature in your home turning on the heat when its cold, and the AC when its hot. No one ever gives this much thought, but your little thermostat is a programmable device following cybernetic principles. That is what AI is! Feedback control. But most people when they think of AI, think of HAL or The Terminator, really scary monsters who are after you. A more recent version of this, is the wonderful movie, “Ex Machina(2014)” where Ava is able to pull off some really scary human feels in her handling of innocent young Caleb and even her creator, Nathan.

How real is any of this?

Well not so very real at all and there is nothing even close. There is no computer system in existence today (2018) which is conscious and which can perform the actions of HAL, The Terminator, or Ava.

Really too many Sci-Fi movies are keeping you up at night. Magical thinking always confuses the imaginary with the real.

All computer systems are AI, they are intelligent because they are following all the rules of rational thought. The only difference is in their size. Software does have a size. The more “I” that you want in a system, the more code that you need to create.

And who is creating that code? Legions of IT professionals all over the world. Every human being literally lives in a world of software, because software is everywhere, in your TV, in your phones, your appliances, your electrical grid, your book reader. When you hit the “on button” of most any modern device, you are actually executing a program which runs that device. And all this code is written by human beings usually called programmers or now, IT Professionals.

No computer system designs itself, programs itself, builds itself or another, fixes it’s software or hardware when they break, or kills their human creators. This is a flight of the human imagination. A computer virus is wholly created by human beings, and not by some mysterious AI malevolently smirking in the corner following out it’s plans for world conquest.

That is why human IT professionals are in such high demand.

Tech jobs are thriving nationwide — up to 7.3M

This IT work requires a very high level of focus, and consciousness, and is beyond conceptions even for the individuals involved, as to its complexity. When a program of over a million lines of code goes down (fails) at 3:00 AM, and it is mission critical (air traffic control), you better believe that a small army of individuals are paged into work to fix the problem. Nobody calls the local computer, and says “Hey, you’re down! Fix yourself.” If the computer system could fix itself, it would not have gone down in the first place, but like HAL would have anticipated and forecast its own failure, and then unlike HAL, fixed it without human intervention.

What the documentary misses entirely is that AI is not something special in IT.

All software is intelligent becomes it arises as thoughts in human minds.

Since the evolution of Humans, the only way to get your intelligence out of you to another human was speaking, talking, sign language, and then writing, and then publishing that writing in mass produced books.

With the computer from about 1945 on, a major impediment was breached in that now not only could an intelligent thought be transmitted but it could be transferred into a machine, and then it could run on its own. Human rational thought was no longer the exclusive domain of Human Beings.

A computer is something like a book which reads itself, and then runs the thoughts which are encoded in the words.

All computers are running Human thoughts!

Every line of code which runs on a computer, was once a thought in a Human Mind. And following the line of pure logic, computers can extend a rational line of thought or delve deeply into vast amounts of data, looking for patterns, and surprise its human creators such as winning at Chess, GO, or Jeopardy

Systems like Google, Watson, and Wikipedia literally know more than the entire human race.

The danger in any computer system is that “IT IS” following a line of perfectly correct logic. The Prisoner’s Dilemma proves beyond a doubt that a line of perfect logic can lead to a result that is not logical which is why biological systems alternate between intense competition, and intense cooperation. Nature is not always red in tooth and claw. Random acts of altruism constantly take place in the natural world, and animals which help other animals who they are not related to, or even not of the same species; derive no discernible benefit from their act of kindness. So why do they do it?

Thank mother nature that you are intrinsically more intelligent than a computer because you can recognize when your own perfectly logical thoughts are ridiculous, and contrary to a higher logic! Why would you help a complete stranger who you will never see again?

After all, We are all McCoys. We are not Spocks!

In dissent, evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker argues that “AI dystopias project a parochial alphamale psychology onto the concept of intelligence. They assume that superhumanly intelligent robots would develop goals like deposing their masters or taking over the world”; perhaps instead “artificial intelligence will naturally develop along female lines: fully capable of solving problems, but with no desire to annihilate innocents or dominate the civilization.”

Shermer, Michael (1 March 2017). “Apocalypse AI“. Scientific American. pp. 77–77.

doi: 10.1038/scientificamerican0317-77. Retrieved 27 November 2017.

And Mr. Pinker is exactly right. Who is it in the world that really wants and desires domination over human beings? Why, its other human beings, of course! And in particular, the Male Human Being. How many vicious dictators in the world today are female? Names anyone?

So why are you afraid of computers who could care less about the pleasures of dominating, and not be afraid of the human being who desires nothing else?

Where “Do You Trust….” is on its most poignant point, is when it discusses the massive amounts of data being collected, and used with no regulation or rules. But thats not AI or the computer system itself. Human beings and governments and corporations collect and use all that data.

China is currently building a “Social Credit Scoring” system which current plans call for a roll out in 2020 where every Chinese Citizen will be given a number, their Social Credit Score. This Orwellian system is being built by Chinese corporations, and not the government and it will even identify an individual person of interest in a crowd of thousands. Should there be a strike or demonstration of any kind, every individual involved would have their Social Credit Score reduced, if not also their lives.

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens

By Rachel Botsman Saturday 21 October 2017 Wired UK

But in the US and other countries, corporations are doing much the same, and Homeland Security is literally listening and logging every phone call and Internet transaction that takes place in or out of the US area of control.

Just as a computer system can easily crush you in the same way that a backhoe can crush you, the threat of AI is a red-herring to divert attention from the human uses of computer systems. And Mr. Elon Musk should fully realize this as he is a major investor in building AI systems which launch rockets and return them safely to their launch pads.

Mr. Elon Musk’s publicly stated concerns about AI is highly ironic given his support for those very same systems.

In answer to the question posed by “Do You Trust This Computer?”, my response is Yes, I do. But a further question can be asked, “Do I Trust the humans, corporations, and governments behind computer systems?” my response is No, I do not, at least not without controls,

Доверяй, но проверяй” {Doveryai, no proveryai}, “Trust but verify.” is always a good rule.

AI systems do not care about having control and dominance over you, but Human Beings indeed seem to desire nothing else.

So who do you trust?

Article by Folcwine P. Pywackett