( A Twenty minute read)
We might not yet be living in a world that is run by Google but the way we are accepting artificial intelligence algorithms we will soon if not already be living in a world run by a Google Algorithm brain.
The complex mathematical formulas of Algorithms are playing a growing role in all walks of life: deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at what cost, or who is on a ‘no fly’ list.
There decisions are often based on data collected about people, sometimes without their knowledge inferring all sorts of things about you from your digital crumbs.
They are being used – experimentally – to write news articles from raw data, while Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was helped by behavioral marketers who used an algorithm to locate the highest concentrations of ‘persuadable voters.
Completely lacking any form of transparency they are both untraceable, and subject to no form of accountability. They can infer your sexual orientation, your personality traits, your political leanings, with predictive power, with high levels of accuracy.
We’re already halfway towards a world where algorithms run nearly everything.
As their power intensifies, wealth will concentrate towards them.
They will ensure the 1%-99% divide gets larger.
If you’re not part of the class attached to algorithms, then you will struggle.
They will further stratify society, creating a world of haves and have-not’s.
So why are we ‘blindly trusting’ formulas to determine a fair outcome.
The main reason is because most people don’t yet know or understand what they are doing or could be doing.
Algorithms are not inherently fair, because the person who builds the model defines success. This is the reason why there is no popular outrage about Wall Street being run by algorithms.
For techno-evangelists, Google is a marvel of Web brilliance … For Wall Street, it may be the IPO (An IPO is short for an initial public offering. Like the name says, it’s when a company initially offers shares of stocks to the public. It’s also called “going public.” An IPO is the first time the owners of the company give up part of their ownership to stockholders.) that changes everything (again) …
The vast majority of trades these days are performed by algorithms. The idea that the world’s financial markets – and, hence, the well-being of our pensions, shareholdings, savings etc – are now largely determined by algorithmic vagaries is unsettling enough for some.
But in my opinion we should not automatically see algorithms as a malign influence on our lives, we should debate their ubiquity and their wide range of uses.
Because we now spend so much of our time online that we are creating huge data-mining opportunities.
Because there is the possibility of using big-data predictions about people to judge and punish them even before they’ve acted. Doing this negates ideas of fairness, justice and free will. This presents an entirely new menace: penalties based on propensities.
Because we risk falling victim to a dictatorship of data, whereby we fetishise the information, the output of our analyses, and end up misusing it.
Because by far the most complicated algorithms are to be found in science, where they are used to design new drugs or model the climate.
We all urgently need to consider the implications of allowing commercial interests and governments to use algorithms to analyse our habits:
How are they being used to access and interpret “our” data? And by whom?
Big data is a useful tool of rational decision-making. Wielded unwisely, it can become an instrument of the powerful, who may turn it into a source of repression.
But there is a bigger question about the oversights involving AI.
The questions being raised about algorithms at the moment are not about algorithms per se, but about the way society is structured with regard to data use and data privacy. It’s also about how models are being used to predict the future.
There is currently an awkward marriage between data and algorithms. As technology evolves, there will be mistakes, but it is important to remember they are just a tool. We shouldn’t blame our tools. At the moment there is consensus, that in the next twenty years we will be looking at seeing AI as smart as humans.
Difficulties come when they are used in the social sciences not to mention again financial trading.
Targeted Algorithms can now calculate whether a woman is pregnant and, if so, when she is due to give birth: Teenage daughters can be identified pregnant by retailers long before her own father knows.
From dating websites and City trading floors, through to online retailing and internet searches (Google’s search algorithm is now a more closely guarded commercial secret than the recipe for Coca-Cola), algorithms are increasingly determining our collective futures. “Bank approvals, store cards, job matches and more all run on similar principles.
“The algorithm is the god from the machine powering them all, for good or ill.”
They are now so integrated into our lives we barely notice them.
Pharmacists are already seeing some of their prescribing tasks replaced by algorithms. Data analysis as a factor in deciding whether to release somebody from prison or to keep him incarcerated.”
On the one hand, they are good because they free up our time and do mundane processes on our behalf.
However as their ubiquity spreads, so too does the debate around whether we should allow ourselves to become so reliant on them – and who, if anyone, is policing their use.
Here’s the scary bit:
We will be at the mercy of algorithms. How will they work when they are combined together. The result will be a system that will never be completely understood, that they could fail in unpredictable ways.
We are currently creating AI without fully understanding intelligence or cognition first.
Google released a developer’s kit last spring that lets anyone integrate Google’s search engine into their own application. The download is simple, and the license is free for the taking. The developer’s kit is a classic Trojan-horse strategy, putting Google’s engine in places that the company might not have imagined. Basically, those developers can do whatever they want.
Google doesn’t market itself in the traditional sense. Instead, it observes, and it listens. Their Algorithms will run everything from shopping to gods only knows what in the future. Googlers will be living amid semantic, visual, and technical esoterica.
Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide A single Google query uses 1,000 computers in 0.2 seconds to retrieve an answer.
In February 2016, Google briefly overtook Apple to become the most valuable company in the world – worth more than $500bn (£350bn).
In 2015 alone, Google had revenues of $75bn (£53bn). That’s about £1,675 a second. Yet its core service – search – costs nothing to use. Simply, everyday in 2016 Google earned a over $58 million (£45m).
Google at the moment controls around 70% of all online searches.
It could and should be viewed as a monopoly, but most of us don’t give a toss as it is already impossible to stop using it.
We are all already essentially sentenced to a digital death out side any laws or regulations.
Innovation at Google is as democratic as the search technology itself. One reason Google puts its innovations on public display is to identify failures quickly. Another reason is to find winners.
We will all have a Google Assistant connected to the Cloud.
The question is: Will they be accountable to us or Google.
Will it make our lives better or improve its quality?
Not so as technologies have little to do with human thought or indeed intelligence.
GOOGLE RATTLES THE TECH WORLD WITH A NEW AI CHIP FOR ALL.
Google says it will not sell the chip directly to others. Instead, through its new cloud service, set to arrive sometime before the end of the year, any business or developer can build and operate software via the internet that taps into hundreds and perhaps thousands of these processors, all packed into Google data centers more recently, it has worked to sell time on this hardware via the cloud—massive computing power anyone can use to build and operate websites, apps, and other software online.
Unlike the original TPU, it can be used to train neural networks, not just run them once they’re trained. Also setting the new chip apart: it’s available through a dedicated cloud service.
Several companies, including chip giant Intel and a long list of startups, are now developing dedicated AI chips that could provide alternatives to the Google TPU.
Why? Because, this is the good side of capitalism which is in the process of disappearing into the cloud.
Most of Google’s revenue still comes from advertising, however IN A MOVE that could shift the course of multiple technology markets, Google will soon launch a cloud computing service that provides exclusive access to a new kind of artificial-intelligence chip designed by its own engineers.
The company sees cloud computing as another major source of revenue that will carry a large part of its future: deep neural networks—machine learning systems behind the rapid evolution of everything from image and speech recognition to automated translation to robotics.
Algorithms will still need a human to collect blood and urine samples for them to analyse. Even the best data scientists would struggle to know what to do with all that data. But it’s the next step that we need to keep an eye on. They could really screw up someone’s life with a false prediction about what they might be up to.
The European Union’s data protection law, set from next year to create a ‘right of explanation’ when consumers are impacted by an algorithmic decision, as a model that could be expanded but in practices algorithms will be made the scapegoat for societal ills. Absolving Humanity.
The protection law or laws will be Unworkable.
With most of us not realizing that there is a race before AI becomes conscious and self-aware, AI is here to stay, luckily there is more to mere intelligence than a chip or implant can explain.
The danger is that Super Artificial Intelligence will con us into to thinking that it is consciousness without being conscious. We could be using brain-computer interfaces to link us to the cloud and there will be no clear moment when we emerge as trans human whether we like it or not. If the world takes the shape of whatever the most powerful AI is programmed (or reprograms itself) to desire it opens the possibility of evolution taking a turn for the entirely banal.
Should we now be regulating AI.
The problem is how the rules are set: it’s impossible to do this perfectly.
Without a doubt and it should not be left to a small group or self-regulation.
We should now set up an new world organisation that is totally transparent and self financing to vet all AI. This organisation should not only vet AI it should establish a virtual bank where all programs are stored.
Diversity has a value all in itself but when you look at humanity as a whole there is a lot wrong.
We at the start of a major technology revolution with AI no longer a far-fetched fiction.
Fortunately we do not have to justify our existence as yet.
Saying that we want to save this precious puny planet and doing it successfully is still a long way off. If we don’t find a way of distributing the earth wealth we will end up fueling capitalism with Artificial Intelligence that serves only the few not the many.
There are people searching the Web for ‘spiritual enlightenment and so they should as the needle of our beliefs will continue to swerve away from the universality of God.
When someone enters a query on Google for “spiritual enlightenment,” it’s not clear what he’s seeking. The concept of spiritual enlightenment means something different from what the two words mean individually. Google has to navigate varying levels of literary to guess at what the user really wants.
At some point, all of this great stuff has to turn a profit by Google.
What we have at present, academic inquiry devoted primarily to acquiring knowledge and technological know-how dissociated from any intellectually more fundamental concern to help us resolve our conflicts and problems of living in more cooperatively rational ways – dissociated, that is, from the pursuit of wisdom – is a recipe for disaster.
It is hardly too much to say that all our current global problems have come about because of the successful scientific pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how dissociated from wisdom.
The appalling destructiveness of modern warfare and terrorism, vast inequalities in wealth and standards of living between first and third worlds, rapid population growth, environmental damage – destruction of tropical rain forests, rapid extinction of species, global warming, pollution of sea, earth and air, depletion of finite natural resources – all exist today because of the massively enhanced power to act (of some), made possible by modern science and technology.
Every branch and aspect of academic inquiry need to change if we are to have the kind of inquiry, both more rational and of greater human value than what we have at present, that we really need.
All comments appreciated, all like clicks chucked in the bin.
PS: I did not bother to address the effects that Algorithms will have on our vision, our language, our writing, our necks, our figures, our memory, our brains etc.