Cassius Methyl | January 25, 2016
According to Digital Trends:
“The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a government institution that concerns itself with large-scale research efforts, has awarded a $28 million grant to Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Harvard’s Center for Brain Science (CBS), and its Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.”
An acronym reminiscent of the US Government’s “mad scientist division” DARPA, they announced the intention of developing “advanced machine learning algorithms by pushing the frontiers of neuroscience.”
The effort is apparently focusing on understanding the way neurons work in the human brain, to replicate the human brain in robotics.
“This is a moonshot challenge, akin to the Human Genome Project in scope,” said David Cox, project leader and assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology and computer science.
“The scientific value of recording the activity of so many neurons and mapping their connections alone is enormous, but that is only the first half of the project,” Cox said. “As we figure out the fundamental principles governing how the brain learns, it’s not hard to imagine that we’ll eventually be able to design computer systems that can match, or even outperform, humans.”
Most news articles talking about these efforts are framing the issue in a cheesy way, always comparing AI to science fiction, alluding to hyperbolic scenarios of artificial intelligence taking over humanity.
Perhaps a better concern would be the mix of hegemony and artificial intelligence: power.
Knowing the history of the people investing in artificial intelligence, perhaps a much more reasonable concern is government wielding AI for evil, rather than AI overtaking all of humanity because it is sentient.
Goldman Sachs, Toyota, DARPA, Harvard in conjunction with IARPA, Facebook: they are only a fraction of the powers currently participating in a sort of AI arms race.
“Goldman Sachs is going big on big data. Don Duet, cohead of the bank’s technology division, said the firm was investing deeply in artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
“Toyota is investing over a billion dollars on an artificial intelligence project in Silicon Valley.
Titled the “Toyota Research Institute,” the company announced on Friday that they will soon have a laboratory adjacent to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, for the sake of research on artificial intelligence technology.”
“DARPA has launched a program that will try to develop a bridge between neurons of the human brain, and supercomputers.”
Without neglecting to recognize the fascinating nature of developing AI or potential good of the tech, the bottom line is power hungry people are the ones racing to wield it right now.
People who don’t do the world much good in the first place are seeking to use their money and power to develop artificial intelligence.
How about being responsible for developing self guided “smart bullets?”
Can they even be held responsible for drone strikes they are currently unleashing on people, with a 90% civilian death rate? Of course not, and yet they are developing insect-like legs for helicopters and drones to be even less accountable. They are pouring money into warping efforts of young geniuses at Harvard, to concentrate even more power in their hands.
The bottom line is, it requires some time to sit down and learn about DARPA and AI, this technological acquisition of power, if we want to be prepared for the near future. It takes time to learn about this, and people who care about having a future need to sit down and face reality: how can we possibly clear a path for a free, prosperous future when there are people doing this?
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