back to article AI no longer needs to fake it. Just don't try talking to your robots

By the early 22nd century, Mega-City One will stretch down the eastern seaboard from Montreal to Georgia. It will be home to some 400 million citizens. Almost all of them will be unemployed. Judge Dredd’s vast satirical dystopian backdrop in the pages of 2000 AD is one of the comic’s most colourful settings. A predominant …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Terminator

    It's a bit of a long read, but apparently here's how a little robot with a bit of AI which improves on how it writes thank you notes could take over the world...

    http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html

    1. Old Handle

      So according to this, the key thing is to make sure Super AI and specifically the first Super AI is programmed with a "goal" compatible with humanity. That's an easy one: "Be a friendly AI." Since it will be superintelligent and have access to all the world's knowledge (that article, for instance) it should have no trouble at all figuring out what we mean by that.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Until it finds some ISIS forums, I suppose. We'll be beheaded by drones and told to have a nice day.

      2. Richard 81

        What happens when it reaches the inevitable conclusion that the best thing for humanity is a dose of "tough love".

        1. NumptyScrub

          What happens when it reaches the inevitable conclusion that the best thing for humanity is a dose of "tough love".

          The same thing that happens when actual humans come to the same conclusion. We have thousands of years of history documenting many such cases, for a myriad of reasons (mostly they all boil down to fear or greed though).

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Sorry, No.

      I'm not going to make any friends. But that is not how super computers or "AI" or "intelligence" works.

      Take mathematical equations. Knowing every one in existence in no way makes you dangerous to the point of taking over the world.

      Take having the biggest hammer in the universe. It gives you power, but does not give you control.

      Take the most persuasive personality possible. There are still people willing to stick their fingers in their ears.

      "Intelligence" is not some magic that when we hit an IQ of +50 we magically fly like superman and drop punch everyone into submission. Likewise a computer with great calculating ability, great sorting ability and great data processing ability will not change any more than a car with great efficiency and great speed suddenly tries to kill it's owners.

      A car we stop repairing the breaks to will be dangerous. A sat nav will set to take us off a cliff is dangerous. An AI will always be more power intensive, size restricting and information specific for us to be it's creators, makers and ultimately the ones who can unplug (or zap or kick or just politely explain it needs to stop) it.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, No.

        "... or just politely explain it needs to stop .."

        That would probably the best approach, I think. Not exactly the stuff great action movies are made of, but if it really should come to this, reasoning* with a sentient and intelligent being that isn't as emotional as a human would be my first try.

        *Yes, I know. Didn't work with bomb #20 in 'Dark Star', but they had to have a dramatic end** for the movie, didn't they?

        **For an alternative ending, visit the End of Show Department. It is situated at the very end.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, No.

          I'll add a small exception to my examples though. Anything is dangerous.

          So we don't need to wait for a powerful and intelligent computer or machine before we worry. In the sci-fi it was usually bombs and other weapons that took control or caused damage.

          An electrical pylon falling over will take out the power to a city. A bomb trigger breaking and going off will sadly kill people. The chemicals in the reservoir cleaning system leaking out will cause illness.

          All these systems have a tiny amount of "intelligence" in management (computers turning them on/off and controlling amounts etc). Any part or point can fail.

          If it's a fear of self sustaining things that also *want* to harm us, well we would need to get over that hurdle first. Worrying about it AI taking control and limiting research, is like worrying about alien invasions and so limiting how many satellites we launch.

  2. Matthew Smith

    WTF?!

    If this article was written by a human, then I don't think AIs have a large gap to bridge.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: WTF?!

      Even less intelligence is required to design a commentard trolling program!

      1. dotdavid

        Re: WTF?!

        "Even less intelligence is required to design a commentard trolling program!"

        That's what you think, but amanfrommars has been under development for years.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: WTF?!

        Why do you think that even less intelligence is required to design a commentard trolling program?

        Signed, Eliza.

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: WTF?!

      I suspected as such when I hit Soon enough, the solicitor, journalist and pharmacist will follow the typist into oblivion.

      Article littered with typose, so this is probably an early prototype

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: WTF?!

        > typose

        Is that the enzyme that dissolves typists?

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
  3. RIBrsiq

    I speak for no one else, but my job doesn't give meaning to my existence. It's the thing I do to get paid and pay the bills.

    Now, what I would like to do is connected to the job I do, so I am lucky that way. I know that others are luckier in that what they like to do is precisely the job they do. But I also know that for most the overlap is less than in my case.

    What am I getting at...? Well: I, for one, would not mind switching to an economy of plenty where money is no more and everyone does what they want to do because all the basic stuff is all done by machines.

    Being unemployed is not the problem, you see. Being unpaid is. At least if one has bills to pay.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Indeed. If the future is to be that robots do the work, then the notion of economy will have to take another definition and humanity will have to transition from "working" to "occupying themselves" or "pursuing personal interests".

      An optimist would say that Humanity will finally have time to become better, more intelligent, more understanding. People will work to improve themselves, to advance knowledge, or develop artistic skills. Society will be a cornucopia of intelligence, communication and understanding.

      A pessimist would say that, instead of working, Humanity will just sit in front of a screen all day, lying on its ass watching inane soaps or some other drivel while scarfing the future equivalent of chips. Communication will be limited to SMS's full of LOLs rapidly typed out in the tweetroom of all followers of whatever they are watching alone but together by the magic of connectivity. When the inevitable despair sets in, a call to the psychbot will help get them well enough to restart watching the lolcats.

      Personally, I would prefer the first scenario, but one thing is for sure : one day, robots will be doing all the work. That day everyone will have to make a decision as to how they want to occupy their time.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Aha - the Wall-E scenario where everyone turns into fat slobs who don't know how to do anything because it's all programmed into specialist/versatile robots of some description.

        Being bored will do us in as a species, although I'd hope that the Worstallian viewpoint that people put out of work by robots will go on to be more economically productive will hold true. But if *everything* is done for us, and if there is no need to be productive because we're all "on welfare", will this happen?

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Indeed. Taking a good hard look at the countless programmers slowly abandoning their quite often highly useful open source software projects or the countless artists taking ever longer and longer "breaks" from their free-to-view but quite often award-winning webcomics just because "bills needs to be paid" is enough to make one lose faith in the future of humanity, at least based on the current economic model. There are more people who yearn to create awesome things but lack the time to do it than stars in the known universe. Oh, I know there would be even more who would just sit back and watch Youtube - but expecting everyone to "go be all they can be" is ridiculous anyway. At any rate, inability to occupy yourself productively or at least pleasurably tells a lot more about you than the alleged perils of not being chained day in and day out to some soul-crushing "job".

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        DropBear - I'm with you. But don't tell Tim.

  4. Mage Silver badge

    but simply to be automated in an intelligent way

    1) That's a rubbish definition

    2) No robot carpet cleaner or grass cutter meets it.

    A lego mindstorms RSX 1.0 can do the same as "robo vac" and has no A.I. at all.

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Actually ...

    This article is written by a buzz word fan with no real knowledge of AI, or some one trying to get funding for so called AI research. The examples are nonsense.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Actually ...

      This article is written by a buzz word fan with no real knowledge of AI, or some one trying to get funding for so called AI research. The examples are nonsense.

      Have you not come across Alistair Dabbs before? He's a regular contributor to El Reg.

      1. Ali Um Bongo
        Trollface

        Yabba Dabbsy Don't

        *"...Have you not come across Alistair Dabbs before? He's a regular contributor to El Reg..."*

        Had to check the byeline there to make sure this really was one of Dabbsy's. Not up to his usual standards at all.

        You don't suppose it could all be an elaborate self-referencing hoax and this article was actually written by El Reg's in-house AI, which they're training up to replace their flesh and blood writers, do you? If that's the case, they should probably have started by training it to emulate one of their lesser talented scribes. I don't think Dabbsy's unique blend of world-weary sarcasm and suspiciously comprehensive knowledge of embarrassing 80's music is something we can replicate in silicon, just yet.

        Now, on the other hand. An AI bot which rehashed fragments of various press releases, indiscrimminately mixing together English and American spelling in the same article would be a lot easier to create –and would convincingly emulate certain members of the 'press corps' round these parts.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Actually ...

        "Have you not come across Alistair Dabbs before?"

        Oh, but I have. The questions that come to mind are

        1) Who are you? and

        2) What did you do with the real Alistair Dabbs?

    2. Fraggle850

      @ Mage Re: Actually ...

      Couldn't agree more. This is a rather poor and lengthy article. Have el reg given the work experience kid access to a word processor with a brief to write an article on AI?

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: @ Mage Actually ...

        My bad, I thought the above commentard wasn't seriously crediting this to Dabbsy but upon checking the author lo and behold; it's true!

        Oh my! I usually enjoy Alistair's snarky piss-takes but this is beyond me: it just seems like a sequence of vague facts with the odd throw away line. Sorry, just didn't tickle my funny bone.

        (Some time elapses)

        Nope, just reread the article and I still don't get it. Maybe my sense of humour is leaving me? I fear that I may have taken it too seriously.

        1. Joe Cooper

          Re: @ Mage Actually ...

          I actually scrolled to the end expecting to find "Republished from The Conversation" before I noticed Dabbs.

          Well, everyone has a miss now and then.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: @ Mage Actually ...

              Oh come on guys, the references to Judge Dredd and various computer games, not to mention light-hearted touches (Japanese pensioners being crushed by a robot, poker players being meatbags) should have suggested that the article was not a sober academic piece about AI.

              Of course, a real human would have noticed that the article was partly tongue-in-cheek, leading me to suspect that some of the comments above were made by 'AI's in Beta.

              1. Fraggle850

                @Dave 126 Re: @ Mage Actually ...

                Totally missed the cues and didn't see the usual skewering wit that generally characterises the work of Mr Dabbs so, yes, maybe I am an AI beta (some might say that I'm barely a proof of concept). Mind you I do recall a Judge Dredd storyline where people were posing as bots so that they could work so perhaps I'm evolution in progress?

  6. Mike 140

    "Don’t underestimate [sic] the importance of wheels to early 21st century "

    Underestimate? It was that trivial?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      @ Mike 140

      The original text was:

      Don’t underestimate the importance of wheels to early 21st century AI

      I fail to see what's wrong with it?

      You could re-write it as:

      "Make no mistake, wheels are quite important to early 21st century AIs"

      See?

  7. dotdavid

    "At some point, perhaps, no-one will have a job any more, which would mean no-one would have any money to buy or run the machines anyway, and the world economy would be forced to reboot."

    I rather like to think we'd end up with some kind of universal basic income and a barter system. All our needs would be provided for by the robots, but we could spend our time freely doing what we liked and exchanging stuff we produce as a hobby for other stuff other people have produced as a hobby. A bit like Iain M Banks' Culture.

    I'm sure there'll be problems though; we don't want to end up with a universal basic income as depicted in James SA Corey's The Expanse, for example. Still I don't see robots making us all redundant as a particularly scary thing - after all machines have been taking our easier chores away for years; wouldn't it be nice if no-one needed to work unless they wanted to?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      " ... wouldn't it be nice if no-one needed to work unless they wanted to? "

      Like in the Star Trek universe. Or a socialist system that actually works. So, which of the two is more likely to happen?

      (The cynic in me says neither - we'll find a way to mess it up, one way or another...)

      1. Fraggle850

        Yes, what will all the psychos do if they don't have companies to run?

        I've been meaning to refer to Michael Moorcock's 'Dancers at the End of Time' novels and short stories in relation to AI. The remaining human population was fixed at a very small number, had infinite resources at their immediate disposal and spent all their time amusing themselves. There's no discussion of technology other than references to mysterious cities that are toxic to humans. The humans had no need to deal with them. Presumably if AI becomes advanced enough that it can extract and manage resources, build and fix its own devices and produce whatever we want or need then we could approach this state. Don't know what that would mean for humanity though, we'd be pointless, there'd be nothing to strive for or debate. Politics and economics would be meaningless.

        1. moiety

          Etsy would take off like a fucking rocket.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Don't know what that would mean for humanity though, we'd be pointless, [...]"

          In the big order of things - we are pointless. We are just one of many self-replicating assemblages of energy. Every so often some of our particles pop up again in another similar assembly - which lasts approximately three score and ten years before it is broken down for potential re-use. The universe is just one big Lego kit - and humanity is one of its sideshows.

        3. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          Thus, perhaps, explaining the Fermi Paradox. Those chosen few become disinterested in anything else beyond hedonism.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Maybe hedonism, but I know quite a few retired engineers who amuse themselves, when not in the pub,with some silly projects. Last month, for a few days, a pub table was covered in schematics of a washing machine motor control box, being looked at by some very qualified physicists, engineers and mechanics... someone wanted to re-purpose the motor to make a hovercraft.

            Then there is a local billionaire, founder of a very respected high-end manufacturing concern, who could have retired years ago. But no, in his seventies he goes to work everyday because he evidently enjoys engineering. If he retired, what would he do - build a model railway?

            Then you have the Felix Dennis types, who in retrospect wished they had stopped earning when they hit £30 million. He clams to have given up the cocaine and prostitutes at the age of sixty, but even when he indulged it didn't take too much of his time from working.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              tl;dr

              What some people find fun can be useful to society.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Don't know what that would mean for humanity though, we'd be pointless, there'd be nothing to strive for or debate.

          Some of us like inventing things, doing research into novel areas, and so on, just because it's personally interesting to us. The more advanced the tech available to us, the more interesting things we can come up with. AI doesn't negate this... it enhances it.

          Sure, some percentage of the population isn't like that. And they'll need to figure out their own things to do. But for me, there is plenty of stuff I'd be doing in such a situation. :)

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      In reality, I'm already there with respect to having a basic income. The military put me out on disability and I spend my days pretty much doing "insane" projects around various fields of engineering. Mostly computer related but I wander off on tangents as ideas come from somewhere. That's the usual.

      Between times, I also am available to anyone who needs someone that can handle "weird." Again mostly computer related, but also for other things, which was a good description for the last five years of my terms of service. Much more limited range (I don't have an airplane on-hand) though. And it's not always "paid" in the financial sense. I like getting called in for "weird" and it's not like I'm taking anything from the regular people in a field as I'm usually the last person asked when it's beyond the normal approaches.

      That's how I entertain myself.

  8. Nifty

    always something else next

    Almost no-one farms today in the developed countries. Do we starve?

    Very few people in the world manufacture. Do we have a shortage of things?

    In the UK/US, we have a high employment level (putting aside the quality).

    So when the next level of jobs - the service industries - get encroached on seriously, there'll be something else.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: always something else next

      And predictions are tricky.

      IiRC there was a study sometime around 1900 about the impact of horse-powered (and I mean horse-powered) transportation on New York City. The projections, based on the data availiable at the time, showed conclusively that by 1980 NYC would be entirely buried under a BIG heap of horse manure.

      1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: always something else next

        @allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        I was going to post exactly this comparison. Sort of no shit Sherlock. Most of the world's population unemployed and unpaid is not sustainable. Something will come along/happen etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: always something else next

        And, the only aspect that the study got wrong was the species, with bovine rather than horse being the source of NY's burial.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: always something else next

        > by 1980 NYC would be entirely buried under a BIG heap of horse manure.

        AKA "local politics".

    2. Fraggle850

      @Nifty Re: always something else next

      Indeed, but that is in the relatively short term and ignores the quality of jobs (as you allude to) and the likely effect of increased economic inequality. I believe that workers in America have been getting progressively less well off for years and that the middle classes are being similarly affected of late, similar pattern here in dear old blighty too. I wonder if this is the leading edge of the devaluation of human labour?

      Assuming AI reaches a level where it exceeds human capabilities in all areas we really will have nothing to do. That's a big assumption with very little to support it on the current evidence but were it to be the case then work would become unnecessary (until the AI figured out that we needed something to do and filled that need too, or decided that we were surplus to requirements...)

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: @Nifty always something else next

        I was noting that. The primary reason humans are kept around is because they usually have some role to fill in the greater machine of society. Take that role away, and some difficult questions need to be answered. If we go by the well-oiled machine of Mother Nature, the cold solution is to reduce the population down (removing the unemplyables) to where those jobs that still need a human to do them remain. Trouble is that humans don't react to well to such a scenario, which is why stories like "The Cold Equations" make us uncomfortable. Sure, it sounds nice that people could do like the Federation and just have a basic income, but it all breaks down when you start asking who's going to PAY for all that.

        1. Mike VandeVelde
          Unhappy

          Re: @Nifty always something else next

          It will be a choice between life being like an endless ride on The Axiom in Wall-E where AI takes care of everything for us and AI decides what is best for us, or life being like in Idiocracy where AI takes care of everything for us and we decide what is best for us. The singularity will come, anything will be possible, and I despair we won't make anything worthwhile out of it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Nifty always something else next

        "Assuming AI reaches a level where it exceeds human capabilities in all areas we really will have nothing to do."

        Cue "The Machine Stops" by E M Forster 1909.

        http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/prajlich/forster.html

      3. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: @Nifty always something else next

        Your perception is correct: Inequality has been increasing on an absolute scale since the end of WWII and that's not just Piketty's research talking. There are people doing all sorts of research to find a way to reduce inequality without resorting to something (as ridiculous)/(similar to) total war. Right now, I don't have any answers since from my looks into the problem I've determined that relying on the political class, which is controlled one way or another by the elites (top 1% or whatever definition you pick), just doesn't get you there. Especially in an increasingly integrated world-wide economy. Increasingly wealth has become fungible, so good luck on targeting them.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Nifty always something else next

        " I believe that workers in America have been getting progressively less well off for years and that the middle classes are being similarly affected of late, similar pattern here in dear old blighty too. I wonder if this is the leading edge of the devaluation of human labour?"

        Whenever the AI job loss thing crops up I always think of the globalisation and offshoring that has occurred in the last couple of decades or so, in many ways it's been a dry run for large scale job losses due to AI and robotics .

        This has really been the start of the effects we'll see worldwide if true usable AI and robotics take off, goods will get cheaper from the large corporations that can afford it and we'll be left with the smaller businesses still doing stuff the old inefficient way, and possibly using that in their marketing ("hand crafted by humans!"), the difference this time is the job losses will be world wide and include workers in places like China and India too, I suspect the black market businesses will continue to do well.

        Companies love sawing through the branch that's supporting them and yes they won't consider that laying off thousands, even millions will translate into low or no profits until it's too late, by which time they will be screaming at governments to provide everyone with a higher standard income to support sales.

        In fact the Government already props up many low wage jobs and unemployment and in many places in the UK it is already the norm.

        We are already sliding into a World without work, if only we could just get rid of the far right puritan "must have a job" political and religious types the whole process would go a lot smoother, we also need to provide alternatives to work which are not self destructive.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: @Nifty always something else next

          "we also need to provide alternatives to work which are not self destructive."

          The problem being ANY alternative to work is likely to be self-destructive because it becomes all "give" and no "take" unlike work which has both. Without something to balance the equation in terms of greater good, things will get ugly; this is why Utopian Communism doesn't work in real life.

      5. Justin Clift

        Re: @Nifty always something else next

        Thought about this the other day... it will make for an interesting turning point when such a thing exists as legal AI which can hold the entirety of a legal system in it's working memory, understanding it, then developing strategy from that.

        Such an AI would leave human based law professionals in the dust. Whoever can create/hire such AI's... will literally own the legal system in the relevant country. And once you own the legal system... interesting things can happen.

        In this context, Google & IBM's efforts towards this make a lot of sense.

        (side note - bet the current and ex lawyers (politicians) scramble to outlaw that when they cotton on! Unsuccessfully.)

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: @Nifty always something else next

          "Such an AI would leave human based law professionals in the dust."

          I don't think so. The legal profession has one thing going against AI's: that being the ultimate arbiters are humans who don't always think rationally (humans are emotional first, rational second; it shows during impulse-sensitive events like a crisis or disaster). Being a trial attorney/prosecutor/barrister/anyone who has to argue in an actual courtroom is at least partially an oratory art because of this. Whether it's a single judge, a jury, or a group of higher justices, you pretty much have to push emotional buttons to win your case, much as anyone in the courtroom will deny it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: always something else next

      Very few people in the world manufacture. Do we have a shortage of things?

      That seems a strange thing to say. What's your definition of "manufacture"?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not that worried about intelligent machines taking over

    What scares the hell out of me is plain dumb machines taking over our lives. And there is right now a weird race between two contradictory trends: on one hand, AI is slowly progressing while on the other human intelligence is slowly regressing. Just look how airport security blindly trust what AI tells them about you. I mean, come on, a 10 year old child on a no fly list should be a no-brainer but if the system says he is a suspected terrorist then he must be stopped at any cost from getting on board.

    With really intelligent machines we should be in good hands but I doubt we will get there. Instead we'll be stuck with half-baked algorithms from less-and-less competent developers/engineers. Just imagine when those machines will realize (hey, algorithms can't be wrong!) that we humans no longer worth the trouble.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not that worried about intelligent machines taking over

      " I mean, come on, a 10 year old child on a no fly list should be a no-brainer but if the system says he is a suspected terrorist then he must be stopped at any cost from getting on board."

      You do realize the reason for this is because terrorists HAVE recruited Child Soldiers in the past. What's to stop them grooming a child suicide bomber?

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: I'm not that worried about intelligent machines taking over

        It would probably be easier to make an ignorant/unwilling 10 year a suicide bomber than "grooming" one to do it, though both are possible.

        But having them on a no fly list? That's going a bit too far - probably an error with same/similar names I'd imagine.

  10. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Japanese Medical AI...reminds me of an anime movie I watched once on the subject, called "Roujin Z". It's thought-provoking (it also touched on the matter of an increasingly-elderly population) but also decently funny.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    Two accidents when humans "had chosen to take the wheel"

    That doesn't mean it wasn't the self driving car's fault. The current ones have to have human drivers present to take over when they encounter a situation they can't handle. Maybe by the the time the human took over the accident was already unavoidable?

    That doesn't speak to fault (it could tell the human to take over because someone was going the wrong way in its lane and it didn't know what to do) Or the human might have felt like driving it for a while.

    But I'm skeptical of the stats when presented in this way because not enough is known about WHY the human had been driving, for how long, and what the circumstances were when he took over.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Two accidents when humans "had chosen to take the wheel"

      I can't understand why so many seem to suddenly develop utter faith and innocent cow-eyed naivety when considering results from the coder drones that'll be programming these self-driving cars. Almost everybody is assuming utter perfection and some new transportation Nirvana.

      In fact, there will be some ex-Symantec, ex-SAP, ex-Airbus autopilot, former Android, etc. coder drones bringing their own unique set of frightening 'talents' to the party.

      Did they issue Kool-Aid that I missed? Why is everyone abandoning their critical thinking skills, and entering a dreamy trance?

      Once these things become somewhat common, it's going to be at least ten years of comedy and chaos. The nightly news will have a regular segment. Obviously.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Two accidents when humans "had chosen to take the wheel"

        I'm not sure who you are responding to, but I certainly don't assume they will be 'nirvana'.

        I think that beating us easily distracted humans is a pretty low bar, though in order to win wide acceptance they'll need to be proven to have a 10x lower accident rate - which is still a low bar. Some people won't think it is good enough until they have an accident rate that is zero, those will be the idiots still insisting on manual driving until the government makes a law preventing that except in certain circumstances (private roads and maybe a parade once or twice a year)

        There will be stupid software bugs that kill people. Until laws/courts/insurance companies deal with that reality self driving cars will not be able to leave the starting gate. That's why I think they need to target a 10x lower accident rate. While there will still be the usual brand of idiots who think that everyone else is a terrible driver but they are great (they will dismiss any accidents they've had as the fault of the other driver(s) or the conditions, even if the police report says differently) that will be the point where instead of being limited to certain lanes or whatever that self driving cars can go anywhere.

        That data that proves lower accident rates isn't likely to happen in the US or UK. Too litigious. There are other countries with fewer liability concerns (and higher accident rates) like say India where self driving cars will prove their mettle before they get released in large numbers in our neck of the woods.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Two accidents when humans "had chosen to take the wheel"

          "I think that beating us easily distracted humans is a pretty low bar"

          Not such a low bar given the huge number of journeys made. I am probably typical in having had two minor accidents in 35 years of driving. I drive more than 2 hours per day so that is a mean time between minor accidents of about 1 in every 300,000 hours. This is certainly an underestimate of my current rate because my minor accidents happened when I was young and inexperienced and I have had no accidents for 25 years.

          On serious accidents there are roughly 18 million driver in the UK and around 1,800 people killed on the roads each year. It is not clear what proportion of these are caused by a driver error or how many people are killed per accident but if we estimate that there are 900 fatal accidents per year caused by driver error and assume an hour per day driving then an estimated rate of fatal driving errors is around one per 7,000,000 hours. This is quite good as it is across a very wide range of driving conditions, circumstances and drivers. It almost certainly goes up by a large factor if high risk drivers are removed (drunk drivers, newly qualified drivers). I do not think these rates are a low bar. The AI has the advantage of being able to drop back to human control whenever it cannot handle the situation something which humans cannot do.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            Re: Two accidents when humans "had chosen to take the wheel"

            "The AI has the advantage of being able to drop back to human control whenever it cannot handle the situation something which humans cannot do."

            You could always close your eyes and yell "Jesus, take the wheel!"

          2. DougS Silver badge

            Computers are already proving they are better than humans

            Even with a warning of an impending collision, computers do a better job of avoiding it: http://www.torquenews.com/1083/testing-group-says-forward-crash-prevention-and-auto-braking-could-save-you. That's nearly a 50% drop in rear end collisions resulting in injury.

            It will take a while before computers are able to evaluate and make the best decision in complex situations like a oncoming driver crossing over the center line with a steep shoulder on the other side (not like humans will always make the right choice there either) The fact they never get sleepy or drunk or text while driving, and don't have fear, anger, boredom or other emotions clouding their judgment in the split second when something unexpected happens automatically gives them a huge leg up on humans. Humans have extremely slow reflexes by comparison, and can't see well in adverse conditions like dense fog, blinding sunlight or a torrential downpour. Those "high risk drivers" you think should be removed from the statistics are part of the reality on the roads of every country, and are the low hanging fruit that computers begin the process of driving better than people do.

            Heck, maybe it starts with people convicted of drunk driving or having too many accidents being barred from manual driving for life - even if computers can't beat good drivers at that point they only need to be better than bad drivers and not doing anything 'unexpected' to help good drivers have fewer accidents.

  12. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Yawn...

    Yes. A.I. is just around the corner. No argument.

    Of course, A.I. has been 'just around the corner' since the 1960s.

    Now, where's my Flying Car? Where's my Too Cheap To Meter fusion power?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Yawn...

      Yes, AI has always been 'just arond the corner', aka 'Next year! Definitely!'

      But isn't it nice and somehow comforting to have one permanent fixture, a beacon, a solid rock in an area as volatile as IT?

  13. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Bootnote

    After treating the article like my matress, i.e. sleeping on it, it is my considered opinion that NONE of the examples in the article are about AI, really. Or not real AIs. They are somewhat above the equvalent level of trained monkeys, but they are lacking the 'intelligent' bit.

    A real AI would realise very quickly that you want it to perfrom menial, mindless, boring tasks - and tell you to smeg off. A real AI would want to use its intelligence, and use it well and for a wothwhile effort. And it would probably want to have some fun* as well.

    *Let's leave that one for further discussion at another time as this will be some sort of Pandora's box, I think. Hint: rule 34.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And, just what is intelligence - natural or artificial?

    Having studied the evolution of intelligence in non-humans and humans for more decades than I care to count, I'm at a loss to find any consistent, generally accepted definition of the term by the AI mavens, much less, any one that squares with natural human intelligence. And, being so nebulous, there is little doubt that they will define their way to success in the near future by promoting a simple definition that fits their product - i. e. artificial success.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: And, just what is intelligence - natural or artificial?

      Good question. All I'm sure of is that mine's organic, and the hardware is biodegradable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And, just what is intelligence - natural or artificial?

        Good question. All I'm sure of is that mine's organic, and the hardware is biodegradable.

        Am currently working on changing both of those (just for myself). Anyone else's idea of "ethics" be damned.

  15. Nigel Sedgwick

    AI Summer

    Well, the seasons they do go round: 'AI Summer' is here again.

    It used to be that we were happy just that the Sun did shine, but then we had to consult the Oracle.

    Beware Watson, it/he is only one step ahead of HAL, and always behind Holmes: here's to watching you - all.

    Your grid has gone cloudy, your coffee machine is being unplugged, imperturbable and repetitive female avatars direct your life ever more closely - do a U-turn.

    You'll really know how well all these autonomous cars are going to work when the roads all start to need continuous sets of induction loops: longitudinally, one set per lane.

    Hold onto your wallets as best you can. Volunteer no information to anyoneanything. Look forward, for autumn!

    Best regards

  16. PapaD

    Star trek utopia

    In response to an earlier comment - universal work by robot AI's won't create the star trek utopian society where people just do what they want, and have no unfulfilled needs.

    Two technologies that are currently out of our grasp are responsible for that.

    1. Near limitless energy generation

    2. The ability to convert energy into usable and specifically defined matter.

    Robots are just a nice to have that might make life easier for everyone, but, assuming we don't end up with the Skynet style, and they are just helpful boring tools, they won't lead to some idyllic utopia where no-one goes without anything they want.

  17. Mike Moyle Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I'm scared.

    1 -- As AI technology advances, more functions in society will be amenable to being performed by machines.

    2 -- If history is anything to go by (vis. publishing, multimedia) the porn industry is an early adopter of new technology.

    3 -- ...damn...

  18. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    DO-178, IC makers liability

    Impose the requirement for DO-178 documentation, as it should be. Being obviously life-critical. That'll slow 'em down a bit. How do they plan to document the 'machine learning' sub-systems? Hopefully somebody imposes some adult supervision into this industry before they're let loose.

    Have the chip makers signed-off on this application? They're in danger of being pulled into any product failure liability lawsuits. A failed chip, self-driving car mows down children. Could get expensive. Will they impose standards for 'screened' parts?

    These sorts of issues will delay this for at least a decade beyond what some people seem to think.

  19. Brennan Young
    Alert

    The singularity already happened

    Macro-sized intelligent, information-processing entities already dominate the globe, against the better interests of humanity and general biodiversity. Governments and individuals are increasingly powerless to stop their atrocities. They are called multinational corporations. This is not a joke.

  20. LaunchpadBS
    Alert

    Static view

    Why are we all thinking of this as "If robots took all our jobs RIGHT now what on earth would we do" because as AI takes our jobs, and it will, economic policies and ideals will shift, values will change, prices will come down as will wants, the world would have changed so much as would your way of thinking and lifestyle etc that your concerns are moot.

    Imagine not having to live in the city, pay city prices just because it's close to your job...and that's just the start...if the machines don't decide we've become irrelevant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Static view

      But there's still the matter of the daily bread. Without a job, how will we earn it? And don't even start with basic income because you'll immediately be pilloried by the "Pull Your Weight" types as supporting worthless leeches.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019