Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

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Robotman
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Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by Robotman » Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:19 pm

I was having a discussion with Kishin over email, and we thought we'd post it here to spur some discussion on the topic:
Robotman wrote:I have yet to watch the whole thing. :P But I have noticed that Ex Machina is this generation's "Terminator" that some people point to as "proof" that we shouldn't build strong AI or humanoid robots.

It's a fucking work of fiction people! Do you ever get the feeling that you're trapped on a planet with very few smart, logical people and around 7 billion complete idiots?
Kishin wrote:LOL if that AI that went totally racist and lazy is any indicator, robots would be just as annoying as the average redneck, with roughly the same motivations!
Robotman wrote:Well, here's the thing... that Tay AI was a publicity stunt and not much more. Any serious attempt at AI won't be let loose on fucking Twitter. If the purpose of the AI is for marketing, then by all means, confine it to the cesspool of online social media. But for true strong AI, a more thoughtful approach is needed, and I'm sure serious AI researchers are well aware of this.
Kishin wrote:Oh of course. We really don't know how strong AI will behave. People assume the worst, and it COULD actually happen. But I doubt it will happen in our lifetime. Hell at this point I'm not sure sex androids will be a viable option in our lifetime. People seem so opposed to anything sexual.
Robotman wrote:Quite true. And most people by far don't understand some very important concepts about AI and AI development. Most people just think that AI will be just one big development that will be a computer version of us.

This couldn't be farther from the truth. And Hollywood is squarely to blame for this as well. This bullshit trope keeps getting recycled over and over again, and it really has hurt the public image of AI and even robotics development.

I remember when that exciting Boston Dynamics bipedal robot video came out last month, about 90% of the comments I read were either jokes or legitimate fears about "This is how Skynet starts". For fucking Christ's sake, people. Far too many people were actually, seriously, and for real commenting on how when the robots become sentient, they will take revenge on us because the dude with the beard pushed that robot with a hockey stick.

And the worst part is that the overwhelming negative reaction that video got is part of the reason why Google is now selling Boston Dynamics. This is why we can't have nice things.

Anyway, back to why AI won't me one monolithic duplication of the human mind...

if you look at most of the AI projects in development, they fall into three categories:

1) privately funded for profit

2) privately funded for research

3) military

The third one is speculative only, and no one really knows what the US and other military forces around the world are doing in the field of AI. We can only guess.

The first one is aimed at making money, obviously. Every AI being developed here is intended to be part of a product, and if it doesn't work for that goal, it will be modified, reworked or scrapped.

The second one is more along the lines of what science fiction writers have been describing since the 50s. It's aimed at discovering the limits of what cognitive processes can be replicated in hardware and software. It's the one most likely to yield anything close to a fully interactive human mind in the form of a computer, and still most people have no idea just how deeply complex and far away that is.

Most people think that an AI controlled entity would have hopes, fears, dreams and goals of its own innately. This assumption is also completely wrong. Those things would have to be programmed into it on purpose, and while we were doing that, we would no doubt ask ourselves "why are we programming this robot to fear the unknown?" or "why are we programming this computer to be ambitious?"

Those are qualities that have evolved with us as a species and there is no need for an AI controlled entity to have them. It would have no use for them. That's why I just roll my eyes at so many of the artsy videos that get posted every now and then featuring fembots... they're all so damned trite and cliche. Oh look, the fembot got jealous. Oh look the fembot went psycho and killed her master. Oh look the fembot longs to be human. It's all unrealistic bullshit.
So anyone want to add their own perspective? Counterpoints?

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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by FaceoffFembot » Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:52 pm

Yeah, most depiction of AI in pop-culture errs on the side of "strong AI" for cheap luddite kicks, although I don't think anything short of brain uploading will allow us to reach this level of complexity. But it allows for interesting parables: Ex Machina is arguably about female empowerment, Matrix is Cartesian navel-gazing, and Asimov's short stories are fun little reasoning romps.

But on the other hand, "dumb AI" Skynet has already (wrongly) killed. Big companies like Microsoft are ready to wage their PR by dropping their bot without any safeguards in a known toxic environment, and Twitter being unable to implement simple measures to contain harassment. You might argue that this is simply not their priorities, but I have a creeping feeling the people hold the reins of our future are just that fucking incompetent.

I agree that we won't see robots decide their existence is crap and lunge at us with knives and so on for quite a while, but we don't need that to fuck ourselves over. Hubris comes in many shapes and forms.

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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by darkbutflashy » Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:05 pm

My 2Â¥: Public perception of anything is shallow. Most people aren't really interested but they are able to discuss it anyway. Just to socialize with other people sharing the same shallow opinions on the topic as themselves. And, to drive it further, things aren't interesting if you cannot use them as a tool for social interaction. That's it. We are programmed to do that. Use information for social interaction. Only.

Meaningful communication over a topic or even knowledge transfer is far more complicated and has to follow procedures as catching our attention, guiding it around the usual fallacies the uninformed listener always fall for, and finally assign an interesting task to solve to prove for our mind it's great for having learned something entirely new! I don't see that happen often.

(Related: it's often asserted kids learn better because their mind is far more flexible in making new nervous connections. That may be true for toddlers but not for school kids. So, why do school kids learn better than adults? Because the learning procedure is properly followed!)
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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by --Battery-- » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:13 pm

Maybe part of this information could be used to make an ASFR oriented article for the Wiki.
Regarding Ai.

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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by daphne » Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:29 am

Fun fact: when you take coding in college you design your very first AI around second semester.

You also learn, not coincidentally, why 99% of everything you hear in the news and media about AI is complete horseshit.

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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by darkbutflashy » Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:19 am

Do you like or dislike my ongoing story Battlemachine Ayako? Leave a comment on the story's discussion pages on the wiki or in that thread. Thank you!

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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by Rotwang » Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:39 am

Somewhere in the early 90's a popular science magazine invited people to design a "cyborg" of the thousands of drawings sent in only a dozen or so were not some variation of a "killing machine". The few that didn't were either astronauts, rescue workers or some dangerous job that would require something a bit tougher than the average human. The rest were mostly retreads of terminator or seemed to invariably incorporate one or more weapons.

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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by dale coba » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:10 pm

I say the first "A.I." offs itself like Marvin the Paranoid Android tried to.
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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by 33cl33 » Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:56 am

I don't blame 'hollywood' so much. I worked there for quite a few years. Turns out, we get such shitty films because those are literally the best ideas a lot of people are having.

We have some great stories on this site - but you're nuts if you think any of them would pull the kind of audiences that would justify the expense of putting them up on the big screen with decent actors, sets, pro grip and lighting, and even passable CGI.

Major studio films are always playing to the lowest common denominator, and the fact that Ex Machina got made in that sweet spot of about $30 million (and likely didn't make a profit) is just pure luck for us.

The fact that they don't seem super-interested in portraying a more realistic exploration of AI and humanoid robotics is likely the same reason we see so many sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots.

It's really hard to sell the idea of a truly novel script (one that explores all the real nuance of humans interacting with possibly intelligent robots / plus, hopefully, sex) to a company that will have to fork over many millions, when there's no track record for that imagery or topic making any money.

But a dangerous killing machine? We know that sells tickets. (frankly, I'd love to see thrillers that don't assume that death is the scariest idea in the world. And I think we'll see some in the not-so-distant future)

Movies aside, I think we'll get there. But I think it will be a circuitous route that comes from all of these networked devices (smart watches, phones, fitness sensors, smart home devices, self-driving cars, drones, google now, siri, echo, surveillance tech) solving lots of little problems together. Which is why I'm not particularly concerned with AGI getting out of hand. I doubt we'll figure out how to install morality, independent desire, or true curiosity before we figure out how to make really good problem-solvers. It'll be a long time before we run out of little (or big, like asteroid impacts) problems to solve.

Maybe your robot companion will really just be a body that's an interface for all of the sensors and computing devices in your 'smart' home.

Thinking "Her" with a body, minus the magical leap to independent motivations.

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Re: Public perceptions of AI and humanoid robotics

Post by Kishin » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:49 am

Ex Machina
Budget $15 million
Box office $38.3 million

No idea about home sales, but I'm sure it did fine.
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