17/02/23

New tech spawns new anxieties, says scientist and philosopher Grady Booch, but we don’t need to be afraid an all-powerful, unfeeling AI. Booch allays our worst (sci-fi induced) fears about superintelligent computers by explaining how we’ll teach, not program, them to share our human values. Rather than worry about an unlikely existential threat, he urges us to consider how artificial intelligence will enhance human life.

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Watch

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Glossary

  • sentient – able to perceive or feel things
  • flaw – a mark, blemish, or other imperfection which mars a substance or object
  • subjugated – bring under domination or control, especially by conquest
  • indifferent – having no particular interest or sympathy; unconcerned
  • exquisite – extremely beautiful and delicate
  • trepidation – a feeling of fear or anxiety about something that may happen
  • profound – (of a state, quality, or emotion) very great or intense
  • rogue – a dishonest or unprincipled man

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Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What kind of fear did HAL speak to? In what way was this character flawed? (1:36)
  • What kind of challenge is the manned mission to Mars faced with? (2:54)
  • How can you teach rather than program a machine to do things? What examples does Grady show? (6:35)
  • Who is Dr. Bostrom and what is his opinion on AI? What does Grady think about this? (9:12)
  • What is your opinion on developing AI?

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Think about it

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

After a career that led me ________ the Air Force Academy to Space Command to now, I became a systems engineer, and recently I was drawn ________ an engineering problem associated with NASA’s mission ________ Mars. Now, in space flights to ________ Moon, we can rely ________ mission control in Houston to watch ________ all aspects of a flight. However, Mars is 200 times further away, and ________  a result it takes on average 13 minutes ________ a signal to travel from the Earth to Mars. If there’s trouble, there’s ________ enough time. And so a reasonable engineering solution calls _______ us to put mission control inside the walls of ________ Orion spacecraft. Another fascinating idea in the mission profile places humanoid robots _______ the surface of Mars before the humans themselves arrive, first to build facilities and later to serve ________ collaborative members of the science team.

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct forms of the words in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Do I fear that such an artificial intelligence might ________ THREAT all of humanity? If you look at movies such as “The Matrix,” “Metropolis,” “The Terminator,” shows such as “Westworld,” they all speak of this kind of fear. Indeed, in the book “Superintelligence” by the ________ PHILOSOPHY Nick Bostrom, he picks up on this theme and observes that a superintelligence might not only be ________ DANGER, it could represent an ________ EXIST threat to all of humanity. Dr. Bostrom’s basic ________ ARGUE is that such systems will eventually have such an ________ SATIABLE thirst for information that they will perhaps learn how to learn and eventually discover that they may have goals that are ________ CONTRA to human needs. Dr. Bostrom has a number of _______ FOLLOW.

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

He is supported by people ________ as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. With all ________ respect to these brilliant minds, I believe ________ they are fundamentally wrong. Now, there are a lot of pieces of Dr. Bostrom’s argument to unpack, and I don’t have time to unpack them all, but very briefly, consider this: super knowing is very different ________ super doing. HAL was a threat ________ the Discovery crew only insofar ________ HAL commanded all aspects of the Discovery. So it would have to be with a superintelligence. It would have to have dominion over all of our world. This is the stuff of Skynet from ________ movie “The Terminator” in which we had a superintelligence that commanded human will, that directed every device that was in every corner of the world. Practically speaking, it ain’t gonna happen.

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