08.20.19

Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: The Simplest Ways that AI will Change Computing

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A publication from the Free Media Alliance

Overview

Unhappy feet

Summary: “AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won’t be followed all the time.”

ARTIFICIAL Intelligence (AI) enhances automation; one way to think of AI is “A lot more computing — both good and bad.” For art? Great. For surveillance? Sometimes bad. Apply it to everything — people will. And it will be a great multiplier of things; of all computing tasks, more or less.

Not all at once. And this is not to hype it, but to describe the effect it will have — as a multiplier:

Another way to think of AI is “enhanced computing.” Because in many ways, it is fundamentally “just computer processing.” Anything a computer does is “just computing.” But with AI, this becomes something more; the scope of what can be touched with computing becomes richer — for good and for bad.

Computing is very flexible, by design. We can actually say something about AI while being this vague — it is essentially like computer processing, except that it can do a little more, it can do more with more modest requirements — it may take a while — but with home computing equipment you can suddenly do things that you would expect of companies like Pixar.

Certainly not at the resolution for a (feature-length) film like Pixar makes. They will still use large computing farms to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time, at least for now.

AI can possibly seem to violate Moore’s law, but it won’t violate the laws of physics. If we are doing 1/3 of what our CPUs can do, then AI will make it so we can do the other 2/3 as well. And we can be really amazed at the results.

“Because in many ways, it is fundamentally “just computer processing.” Anything a computer does is “just computing.” But with AI, this becomes something more; the scope of what can be touched with computing becomes richer — for good and for bad.”Also with “enhanced computing”, things that once seemed incredibly difficult to program are now at least possible. Not necessarily “easy,” but what once would take a team of 25-50 people (at least) can now be done sometimes with a team of 3. That’s not a general rule, just that some things that once took many people can now be done with few, and faster than when it took more people.

Wizard-like stuff that once took a team can now be done by individuals. So the term “enhanced computing” is both telling and probably accurate.

If you want, you can say that what computers could do already 10, 20 years ago is almost like magic. We know better, but it still feels a little bit like magic.

If you think of Harry Potter — Ollivander said of Harry’s nemesis: “He too did great things. Terrible, yes — but great.” It wasn’t a compliment, it was an accurate measure. Of course for a young boy who just learned he was a wizard, it’s creepy enough.

AI will do great things. Some of them will be terrible — but great. And hopefully more of them will be Harry-like than Voldemort-like.

But really, it will be both. AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won’t be followed all the time.

No “Ministry of Artificial Intelligence” is going to be free of corruption or poor decisions — nor would it be enough to stop all bad things that are done with or without approval. Either way, AI is here.

Perhaps the biggest difference between AI and human thought is the superficiality and bias. Humans have that sometimes, in very stupid ways, but we are more flexible. AI can magnify our stupidity — think of the old adage about “knowing just enough to be dangerous.” That’s AI, and its potential to try to make computers do what we think we want — and getting far worse versions on average.

That’s going to be very common; even humans have done this now and again throughout history. AI will lead us to a greater capacity for such mistakes. Just as AI can solve things that would take 100 people to solve, it can make mistakes that would take 1000 people to create.

“Wizard-like stuff that once took a team can now be done by individuals.”At least with laws, there’s a judge and jury as long as it’s not artificial. We are certainly building corporations that have more power than a judge and jury do. But AI could do that too.

Politically, AI lends itself to many things, but may lend itself best (or at least most easily) to fascism. Or that could be post hoc — it’s corporations and governments that are the most interested in it, so this could be describing what it lends itself to most easily by extrapolating it from the product of governments and corporations working on it. Still — what we are developing now is like that.

People are trying to think of whether AI will be more good or more bad, and this is no argument for a neutral stance. If you look at all that computers have done both for our lives, and also to our lives, computing that is suddenly enhanced in ways that at least seem to go beyond the reach of Moore’s law is exciting, but also justifiably scary.

What AI does is pattern recognition, and it can also impose patterns. This is said broadly because that’s the broadness of the application — you can find patterns similar to the way a person would, you can impose patterns similar to the way an artist would. Computers can do that without AI, but not at the same level as a person.

Today, we are designing software that can do those things faster and more tirelessly than people — with similar (or sometimes superior) skill. Manipulating video, audio, tactile environments — targeting, surveillance — these are being expanded and developed all the time, not just in the future. AI may have future applications in sabotaging Free software.

Strips is a framework for creating project plans with AI. If given the outline of a project and a desired outcome, AI can be used to drive the project towards success.

“If you look at all that computers have done both for our lives, and also to our lives, computing that is suddenly enhanced in ways that at least seem to go beyond the reach of Moore’s law is exciting, but also justifiably scary.”If given the “desired” outcome of making a project untenable or fail, plans could be created (with or without Strips, it is just an example of a real AI planning framework and may have no direct relevance to this argument) to undermine or disrupt the viability of a business, organisation or Free software effort.

Computers have already been used for years to simulate and project outcomes of real-life processes — the FSF has never done this, but it shouldn’t surprise us if software monopolies do run such simulated campaigns.

There is an opportunity to do more testing of whether certain plans will help or hinder future efforts, with the very big warning that the previously mentioned examples of bias are still likely relevant, and engineering circular arguments that reinforce or negate the merits of a plan of action is not only possible, but could be difficult to avoid.

“Computing has always had good points and bad points — it is very arguably not neutral, but it is nuanced.”A positive of AI and AI-based planning could be to streamline and automate the creation of GNU/Linux distributions. This is about how the distro is put together, and may prove more relevant to building distros than say, package management.

The more that is done to reduce the work of building a distro, the more freedom the user will ultimately have. None of this is intended to paint AI as solely a threat, or solely a benefit. Computing has always had good points and bad points — it is very arguably not neutral, but it is nuanced. The future is interesting, and not everything is hype.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (Public Domain)

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2019/08/20/enhanced-damage/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 18/6/2021: Mir 2.4, ActivityWatch 0.11, Microsoft Breaks Its Own Repos

    Links for the day



  2. [Meme] When the 'Court' Drops

    As the EPO sneakily outsourced courts to American companies and parties in dispute depend on their ISP for “access to justice” there’s a catastrophic impact on the very concept of justice or the right to be heard (sometimes you don’t hear anything and/or cannot be heard)



  3. The EPO's Virtual Injustice and Virtual ('News') Media

    A discussion of this morning's post (part 10 in a series) about the shallow media/blog coverage that followed or accompanied last month's notorious EPO hearing



  4. Links 18/6/2021: LibreOffice 7.2 Beta, Elementary OS 6.0 Beta 2, and Linux Mint 20.2 “Uma” Beta

    Links for the day



  5. The Self-Hosting Song

    Cautionary tales about outsourcing one's systems to companies that could not care less about anyone but themselves



  6. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 17, 2021



  7. [Meme] Swedish Justice

    The EPO‘s patent tribunals have been mostly symbolic under the Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos regimes; giving them back their autonomy (and removing those who help Battistelli and Campinos attack their autonomy) is the only way to go now



  8. Virtual Injustice -- Part 10: Vapid and Superficial Coverage in the 'IP' Blogosphere

    The media has come under attack by Benoît Battistelli; during the term of António Campinos most of the media critical of the EPO has mostly vanished already; so one needs to look carefully at comments and social control media



  9. Links 18/6/2021: RasPad 3 and Pushing Rust Into the Linux Kernel

    Links for the day



  10. Heli Pihlajamaa Promoting Software Patents to Patent Maximalists

    "Ms Pyjamas" from the EPO is promoting illegal software patents to a bunch of patent zealots (CIPA)



  11. The Lying by Team UPC, Led Again by Kevin Mooney

    Team UPC, or specifically Mr. Mooney, lies to the public about the prospects of the UPC; similarly, EPO and EU officials keep bringing up false claims about the UPC, so while the UPC itself has likely died for good the lies have not



  12. Links 17/6/2021: Cutelyst 3 and Lenovo Move Towards ThinkPad BIOS Configuration From Within Linux

    Links for the day



  13. Too Much Noise and/or Distraction and General Loss of Focus (on the Real and Urgent Issues, Such as the Ongoing Anti-FSF 'Coup')

    The media is full of Microsoft fluff and technical blog posts still focus on the Freenode fiasco, among other things that don't matter all that much; but we certainly need to talk about steps undertaken to undermine the FSF's power because long-term ramifications may be huge



  14. [Meme] The Enlarged Bored People With Presidential Decrees

    The laughable state of the EPO‘s EBA (or EBoA) is rarely commented on anymore, not even in so-called ‘IP’ blogs; maybe they’re just so eager to see patents on everything, even European software patents, so tyrants who destroy the courts (with UPC lobbying and removal of EBA independence) don’t bother them so much anymore



  15. Response to Misinformation From EPO Officials

    Opponents of European software patents are clearly being mischaracterised by EPO officials, who also use meaningless buzzwords to promote such patents; as an aside or footnote that relates to our ongoing series we’re making this quick video, which is days late



  16. [Meme] Tilting the Scales for Software Patents

    Shovelling up lots of patents, even worthless patents such as software patents, dooms the EPO (EPC violations, lawlessness), dooms European professionals, but the wrong people have been put in charge and courts are being intimidated by them



  17. Virtual Injustice -- Part 9: Heli, the EPO's Nordic Ice-Queen

    Team Campinos is full of people who instead of grasping and working to promote innovation are boosting the agenda of litigation (scientists are not being employed)



  18. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 16, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, June 16, 2021



  19. Links 17/6/2021: elementary OS 6 Beta 2 and JingPad Linux Tablet Crowdfunding

    Links for the day



  20. Techrights Statement on IRC

    Freenode needs to explain what the hell happened this week and why communities that make up the network weren't informed or consulted



  21. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, June 15, 2021



  22. Virtual Injustice -- Part 8: A Well-Connected 'IP' Maximalist

    The EPO‘s lobbying for European software patents goes all the way to the top, including António Campinos and his circle



  23. Links 16/6/2021: Alpine 3.14.0 and DXVK 1.9

    Links for the day



  24. Links 15/6/2021: Debian Installer Bullseye RC 2 and Zink Updates

    Links for the day



  25. IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, June 14, 2021



  26. Virtual Injustice -- Part 7: Musical Chairs and Revolving Doors

    Cross pollination in Alicante and Munich serves to show that people aren't picked for their skills and experience; it's like a private club or a clique



  27. Hardly Shocking and Not At All Surprising That Thugs Who Run the EPO Hired External Thugs to Help Them Oppress Aggrieved Staff

    With the EPO's management flooding the bank accounts of aggressive law firms (at our expense) we need to ask serious questions about how such a "Mafia" (what EPO staff calls the management) managed to metastasise inside Europe's second-largest institution and how to remove this "Mafia" as soon as possible (some arrests too are well overdue)



  28. [Meme] There Are No Elections in Mafia-Type Regimes; It's About Family and Friends...

    With no real concept or notion of "elections" (the so-called 'mafia' members choose their successors and colleagues) the EPO's patent examiners clearly need outside intervention, e.g. inquest by the EU authorities (the EPC died and maybe the EPO too; it's unregulated and it grants false patents that harm Europe because the courts don't function, either)



  29. Today's Linux Standing for the Opposite of What Linux Users Stand for

    The so-called 'Linux' Foundation or the "Corporate Linux Foundation" is alienating many of the original users of GNU/Linux and it still insults their intelligence; it's rewriting history, it still distorts the objectives, and before we know Linux will perish and lose momentum because all the excitement associated with the brand will fizzle away



  30. Links 14/6/2021: Kdenlive 21.04.2 and Raspberry Pi 400 Support in Linux

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts