26 May 2014

AI and global warming

This weekend I attended the Starlight festival and of course watched this newest meteor shower.
http://www.extremetech.com/
The part of the shower I've seen was not as amazing as some people advertised it; it was a tad annoying in fact. There were so many small, fast-burning meteors that played with my eyes, that I decided to gave up in the middle of the peak time. Ah well. 
The Starlight festival was way bigger than I expected for this little village of Big Bear Lake, and it had good speakers. One of them, from SETI program, made me really ponder about human future. He said that we can expect to contact some aliens in 50 years or so and that he expect them to be actually what we consider Artificial Intelligence (AI). As a reason for such conclusion he put forward the example of rapid AI development here on the Earth, and predictions of the experts in the field that AI will outsmart us within 50 years. Of course, these conclusions are not new and you can get some details about it at this link.
Such news for the general public automatically calls to mind the scenes from Terminator, Matrix and similar movies. Truth is we do not know how it will be, and what will happen. But we, humans are on the way to make the Earth match the scenery from those movies. The recent NASA report about South Pole melting seems to confirm that we're firmly heading in that direction.
For me personally, maybe a smart AI might save us, or our civilization legacy  at least.  The reason for such direction of thinking appeared mostly because I cannot wrap my head around how all those climate-change deniers do not think about their own children and grandchildren, which many of them have.
Last time I spoke with one of those deniers, I pointed out that small catch.  Actually, I was really nasty about it, saying that although I do not have kids of my own, I do whatever I can to pollute as little as possible, just because I do not wish to contribute to the problem. And I ended my small rant with saying that I wonder how people with the kids do not think about those kids future. The comment was effective, in a way. It made that person think.
But the fact is we are irrational (works by Dan Ariely) and tend to value more current comfort than that  huge problem we'll face in the future and we, humans,  do not know how to go around that snag. So maybe smart AI will not be a problem, but a solution.

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