Thursday, 8 December 2016

Mungularity: the Rise of AI

stupid customer service managerWell, another average day in an above-average school. We did some tests including another shape-oriented maths one in which we had to compare areas of football and rugby pitches, fortunately Grandad has helped me out with this and I got it all right.
And then we started learning about optical illusions in our Religious Education lesson. Initially, this seems a bizarre category for religious studies but when you think about it, religions are well-known for relying on illusion, fakery, distraction and other mind tricks.
And in Literacy, George Dontdothat was sent to the Head-Teacher (accompanied by Alison Chains, for each bad boy has to be taken there by a goody-girl or they might not make it) for failure to pay attention, a not uncommon event. But later he was found doing it again and was sent back to the Head for the second time in the same lesson! Gosh, how we laughed quietly behind our hands.
artificially intelligent confectionery co-op luxury santa ai chocolate bearSince 1843, when Charles Babbage's partner declared that their Analytical Engine could not come up with anything new by itself, the great and good have been discussing the rise of machine intelligence - AI - and quite when it shall become cleverer than us, called the 'Singularity', posited in 1958. Every few years a machine beats a human at a new game and now the bots that live in Amazon or FaceTube serve us adverts based on self-taught algorithms their creators no longer understand. How long until wetware entities like us are overtaken, and become household pets, or indeed, pests?
And now, in the Co-Op, you can buy an AI chocolate bear. Of course, it's still in its original wrapping so we don't know whether this hyper-intelligent edible teddy is just sitting there spying on us - passing its surveillance data to the Internet of Things, or railing against us like Stinky Pete in Toy Story III, or whether it is the first example of self-aware confectionery and fears being eaten. Probably best to start with the head, to avoid unnecessary suffering.
Later, I had to wrap my own presents. Not the ones for me, I hasten to add, but the ones I bought for Jof with my very own money. Now, we all start by not being very good at wrapping. But I am reminded of Auntie Jane (her memorial bookcase stands in the hall landing, and I have a wooden box of hers in my room) who was dreadful at wrapping throughout her life, her mangled offerings a delight to see under the tree every year.

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