Why I’m Not Worried About Robots

Google “robots taking our jobs” and you will get 10.3 million hits.

A series of terrific books (such as Rise of the Robots , The Second Machine Age , and The Industries of the Future (can you share other titles?), have rode the wave (and encouraged) our worries about automation and jobs.

Who isn’t worried about driverless cars and truckerless trucks?The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 233,700 taxi and chauffeur drivers. At last count, Uber has 160,000 active drivers. What will happen to all these people who make their living driving when cars drive themselves?A recent Medium article […]

Who Needs Factories Anyway?

Who Needs Factories Anyway?

Listening to our political leaders, you’d think everyone on the planet works in a factory. Donald Trump wants to stop China and Mexico from “taking our jobs” by preventing factories from moving there — and he’s willing to launch a trade war to do so. Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, recently claimed that a loss of 264,000 manufacturing jobs under President Obama was “a stark reminder of the failure of his policies,” as if the nearly 10 million other jobs added on Obama’s watch didn’t matter.

This obsession with factories threatens to undermine sound economic policy. […]

How the rise of the robots will affect your job

How the rise of the robots will affect your job

MT at 50: We’re heading for the fourth industrial revolution where more and more jobs will be automated – from care assistants to check-in staff. So how can we manage the march of the machines?

The residents of the Colony Club, an assisted-living home near Fort Lauderdale in Florida, are fond of Zora, the little redhead who helps them with their daily exercises, tells them a story or two, takes them on a walk, reads them the weather forecast and will even dance them the Macarena if they ask.

And she works for virtually nothing, after an initial payment of […]

Swiss manufacturers cut jobs that sector warns won’t come back

Swiss manufacturers cut jobs that sector warns won't come back

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH, June 7 (Reuters) – Visitors say views through the glass floors in Schindler’s Auckland Sky Tower elevators offer one of the most exhilarating lift experiences in the world.

But for the Swiss workers who make the elevator parts, their uncertain future might feel as dizzying as the 220-metre drop underfoot as Swiss industry accelerates job cuts to mitigate the impact of the galloping franc.Six decades after opening, Schindler’s hometown factory in Ebikon that decades ago employed hundreds will be scaled back to under 100 employees by the end of 2017.They will focus on special orders the […]

Weird Science: Robots Poised to Take Half the World’s Jobs in 30 Years

Weird Science: Robots Poised to Take Half the World’s Jobs in 30 Years

This picture taken on November 24, 2015 shows visitors watching a robot (C) demonstration during the World Robot Conference in Beijing Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University in Houston, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that, "We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task." He added, "I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?" ‘I’m Not Just Any AI’: Meet the World’s […]

The Singularity, Virtual Immortality and the Trouble with Consciousness (Op-Ed)

The Singularity, Virtual Immortality and the Trouble with Consciousness (Op-Ed)

The author summarizes the explanations of consciousness into 5 possibilities.

It is an open question, post-singularity, whether superstrong AI without inner awareness would be in all respects just as powerful as superstrong AI with inner awareness, and in no respects deficient? In other words, are there kinds of cognition that, in principle or of necessity, require true consciousness? For assessing the AI singularity, the question of consciousness is profound .

The soul of the human machine

The soul of the human machine

Its easy to say that man is not like a machine.  Its very hard to say what that might mean for consciousness.

Machines possess no capacity to will, create, and want. From inside the computational framework, powers like these can only be bracketed or dismissed. If widely accepted, the moral and political implications of such dismissals would be grave. What becomes of democracy, individual liberty, and the right to pursue happiness, if computer-man has no capacities for free choice and is algorithm-driven?



Great little story by Terry Bisson.  So accurately mimics the conversations we have about machines being sentient.  Really makes you think about the conceit that it takes ‘meat’ or brain tissue to harbor consciousness!

I’m honored that this often shows up on the internet. Here’s the correct version, as published in Omni, 1990.

“They’re made out of meat.”


“Meat. They’re made out of meat.”

Tech 2015: Deep Learning And Machine Intelligence Will Eat The World

Tech 2015: Deep Learning And Machine Intelligence Will Eat The WorldThe article has a great graphic on all of the startup and existing company activity in machine learning and data.

Shivon Zilis, an investor at BloombergBETA in San Francisco, put together the graphic below to show what she calls the Machine Intelligence Landscape. The fund specifically focuses on “companies that change the world of work,” so these sorts of automation are a large area of concern. Zilis explains, “I created this landscape to start to put startups into context. I’m a thesis-oriented investor and it’s much easier to identify crowded areas and see white space once the landscape has some sort of taxonomy.”

Full Post at www.forbes.com

Artificially intelligent robots don’t need to be conscious to turn against us

Artificially intelligent robots don't need to be conscious to turn against us

This is a very interesting interview with Stuart Russell.  He gives a nice overview of AI and the major areas of research, with its emphasis on solving problems, not getting consciousness in machines.

I think the quotes below about what we know about consciousness and how it might look in machines are great.

SR: The biggest obstacle is we have absolutely no idea how the brain produces consciousness. It’s not even clear that if we did accidentally produce a sentient machine, we would even know it.

I used to say that if you gave me a trillion dollars to build a sentient or conscious machine I would give it back. I could not honestly say I knew how it works. When I read philosophy or neuroscience papers about consciousness, I don’t get the sense we’re any closer to understanding it than we were 50 years ago.

There is no scientific theory that could lead us from a detailed map of every single neuron in someone’s brain to telling us how that physical system would generate a conscious experience. We don’t even have the beginnings of a theory whose conclusion would be “such a system is conscious.”