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Archive for the ‘complex systems’ category: Page 17

Feb 25, 2011

Security and Complexity Issues Implicated in Strong Artificial Intelligence, an Introduction

Posted by in categories: complex systems, existential risks, information science, robotics/AI

Strong AI or Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) stands for self-improving intelligent systems possessing the capacity to interact with theoretical- and real-world problems with a similar flexibility as an intelligent living being, but the performance and accuracy of a machine. Promising foundations for AGI exist in the current fields of stochastic- and cognitive science as well as traditional artificial intelligence. My aim in this post is to give a very basic insight into- and feeling for the issues involved in dealing with the complexity and universality of an AGI for a general readership.

Classical AI, such as machine learning algorithms and expert systems, are already heavily utilized in today’s real-world problems, in the form of mature machine learning algorithms, which may profitably exploit patterns in customer behaviour, find correlations in scientific data or even predict negotiation strategies, for example [1] [2], or in the form of genetic algorithms. With the next upcoming technology for organizing knowledge on the net, which is called the semantic web and deals with machine-interpretable understanding of words in the context of natural language, we may start inventing early parts of technology playing a role in the future development of AGI. Semantic approaches come from computer science, sociology and current AI research, but promise to describe and ‘understand’ real-world concepts and to enable our computers to build interfaces to real world concepts and coherences more autonomously. Actually getting from expert systems to AGI will require approaches to bootstrap self-improving systems and more research on cognition, but must also involve crucial security aspects. Institutions associated with this early research include the Singularity Institute [3] and the Lifeboat Foundation [4].

In the recent past, we had new kinds of security challenges: DoS attacks, eMail- and PDF-worms and a plethora of other malware, which sometimes even made it into military and other sensitive networks, and stole credit cards and private data en masse. These were and are among the first serious incidents related to the Internet. But still, all of these followed a narrow and predictable pattern, constrained by our current generation of PCs, (in-)security architecture, network protocols, software applications, and of course human flaws (e.g. the emotional response exploited by the “ILOVEYOU virus”). To understand the implications in strong AI first means to realize that probably there won’t be any human-predictable hardware, software, interfaces around for longer periods of time as long as AGI takes off hard enough.

To grasp the new security implications, it’s important to understand how insecurity can arise from the complexity of technological systems. The vast potential of complex systems oft makes their effects hard to predict for the human mind which is actually riddled with biases based on its biological evolution. For example, the application of the simplest mathematical equations can produce complex results hard to understand and predict by common sense. Cellular automata, for example, are simple rules for generating new dots, based on which dots, generated by the same rule, are observed in the previous step. Many of these rules can be encoded in as little as 4 letters (32 bits), and generate astounding complexity.

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Feb 17, 2011

The Global Brain and its role in Human Immortality

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, complex systems, futurism, life extension, neuroscience

It would be helpful to discuss these theoretical concepts because there could be significant practical and existential implications.

The Global Brain (GB) is an emergent world-wide entity of distributed intelligence, facilitated by communication and the meaningful interconnections between millions of humans via technology (such as the internet).

For my purposes I take it to mean the expressive integration of all (or the majority) of human brains through technology and communication, a Metasystem Transition from the human brain to a global (Earth) brain. The GB is truly global not only in geographical terms but also in function.

It has been suggested that the GB has clear analogies with the human brain. For example, the basic unit of the human brain (HB) is the neuron, whereas the basic unit of the GB is the human brain. Whilst the HB is space-restricted within our cranium, the GB is constrained within this planet. The HB contains several regions that have specific functions themselves, but are also connected to the whole (e.g. occipital cortex for vision, temporal cortex for auditory function, thalamus etc.). The GB contains several regions that have specific functions themselves, but are connected to the whole (e.g. search engines, governments, etc.).

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Feb 1, 2011

Human Biological Immortality in 50 years

Posted by in categories: biological, complex systems, futurism

I believe that death due to ageing is not an absolute necessity of human nature. From the evolutionary point of view, we age because nature withholds energy for somatic (bodily) repairs and diverts it to the germ-cells (in order to assure the survival and evolution of the DNA). This is necessary so that the DNA is able to develop and achieve higher complexity.

Although this was a valid scenario until recently, we have now evolved to such a degree that we can use our intellect to achieve further cognitive complexity by manipulating our environment. This makes it unnecessary for the DNA to evolve along the path of natural selection (which is a slow and cumbersome, ‘hit-and-miss’ process), and allows us to develop quickly and more efficiently by using our brain as a means for achieving higher complexity. As a consequence, death through ageing becomes an illogical and unnecessary process. Humans must live much longer than the current lifespan of 80–120 years, in order for a more efficient global evolutionary development to take place.

It is possible to estimate how long the above process will take to mature (see figure below). Consider that the creation of the DNA was approximately 2 billion years ago, the formation of a neuron (cell) several million years ago, that of an effective brain (Homo sapiens sapiens) 200 000 years ago, and the establishment of complex societies (Ancient Greece, Rome, China etc.) thousands of years ago. There is a logarithmic reduction of the time necessary to proceed to the next more complex step (a reduction by a factor of 100). This means that global integration (and thus indefinite lifespans) will be achieved in a matter of decades (and certainly less than a century), starting from the 1960s-1970s (when globalisation in communications, travel and science/technology started to became established). This leaves another maximum of 50 years before the full global integration becomes established.

Each step is associated with a higher level of complexity, and takes a fraction of the timein order to mature, compared to the previous one.

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Jan 17, 2011

Stories We Tell

Posted by in categories: complex systems, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat, policy


What do Singularitarianism and popular Western religion have in common? More than you might imagine. A thumbnail evaluation of both ends of the American technocentric intelligence spectrum reveals both remarkable similarities in their respective narrative constructions and, naturally, amusing disparities. It would appear that all humans, regardless of our respective beliefs, seem to express goal-oriented hardwiring that demands a neatly constructed story to frame our experiences.

Be you a technophile, you are eagerly awaiting, with perhaps equal parts hope and fear, the moment when artificial general intelligence surpasses human intelligence. You don’t know exactly how this new, more cunning intelligence will react to humans, but you’re fairly certain that humanity might well be in a bit of trouble, or at very least, have some unique competition.

Be you a technophobe, you shun the trappings of in-depth science and technology involvement, save for a superficial interaction with the rudimentary elements of technology which likely do not extend much further than your home computer, cell phone, automobile, and/or microwave oven. As a technophobe, you might even consider yourself religious, and if you’re a Christian, you might well be waiting for the second-coming, the rapture.

Both scenarios lead humanity to ironically similar destinations, in which humankind becomes either marginalized or largely vestigial.

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Jan 13, 2011

8D Problem Solving for Transhumanists

Posted by in categories: business, complex systems, engineering, futurism

Transhumanists are into improvements, and many talk about specific problems, for instance Nick Bostrom. However, Bostrom’s problem statements have been criticized for not necessarily being problems, and I think largely this is why one must consider the problem definition (see step #2 below).

Sometimes people talk about their “solutions” for problems, for instance this one in H+ Magazine. But in many cases they are actually talking about their ideas of how to solve a problem, or making science-fictional predictions. So if you surf the web, you will find a lot of good ideas about possibly important problems—but a lot of what you find will be undefined (or not very well defined) problem ideas and solutions.

These proposed solutions often do not attempt to find root causes or assume the wrong root cause. And finding a realistic complete plan for solving a problem is rare.

8D (Eight Disciplines) is a process used in various industries for problem solving and process improvement. The 8D steps described below could be very useful for transhumanists, not just for talking about problems but for actually implementing solutions in real life.

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Jun 5, 2010

Friendly AI: What is it, and how can we foster it?

Posted by in categories: complex systems, ethics, existential risks, futurism, information science, policy, robotics/AI

Friendly AI: What is it, and how can we foster it?
By Frank W. Sudia [1]

Originally written July 20, 2008
Edited and web published June 6, 2009
Copyright © 2008-09, All Rights Reserved.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, artificial intellect, friendly AI, human-robot ethics, science policy.

1. Introduction

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Apr 18, 2010

Ray Kurzweil to keynote “H+ Summit @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist”

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, business, complex systems, education, events, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, information science, media & arts, neuroscience, robotics/AI

With our growing resources, the Lifeboat Foundation has teamed with the Singularity Hub as Media Sponsors for the 2010 Humanity+ Summit. If you have suggestions on future events that we should sponsor, please contact [email protected].

The summer 2010 “Humanity+ @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist” conference is being held, after the inaugural conference in Los Angeles in December 2009, on the East Coast, at Harvard University’s prestigious Science Hall on June 12–13. Futurist, inventor, and author of the NYT bestselling book “The Singularity Is Near”, Ray Kurzweil is going to be keynote speaker of the conference.

Also speaking at the H+ Summit @ Harvard is Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK, and is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation, a California-based charity dedicated to combating the aging process. His talk, “Hype and anti-hype in academic biogerontology research: a call to action”, will analyze the interplay of over-pessimistic and over-optimistic positions with regards of research and development of cures, and propose solutions to alleviate the negative effects of both.

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Mar 27, 2010

Critical Request to CERN Council and Member States on LHC Risks

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cosmology, engineering, ethics, existential risks, particle physics, policy

Experts regard safety report on Big Bang Machine as insufficient and one-dimensional

International critics of the high energy experiments planned to start soon at the particle accelerator LHC at CERN in Geneva have submitted a request to the Ministers of Science of the CERN member states and to the delegates to the CERN Council, the supreme controlling body of CERN.

The paper states that several risk scenarios (that have to be described as global or existential risks) cannot currently be excluded. Under present conditions, the critics have to speak out against an operation of the LHC.

The submission includes assessments from expertises in the fields markedly missing from the physicist-only LSAG safety report — those of risk assessment, law, ethics and statistics. Further weight is added because these experts are all university-level experts – from Griffith University, the University of North Dakota and Oxford University respectively. In particular, it is criticised that CERN’s official safety report lacks independence – all its authors have a prior interest in the LHC running and that the report uses physicist-only authors, when modern risk-assessment guidelines recommend risk experts and ethicists as well.

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Jul 1, 2009

Electron Beam Free Form Fabrication process — progress toward self sustaining structures

Posted by in categories: complex systems, engineering, habitats, lifeboat, space, sustainability

For any assembly or structure, whether an isolated bunker or a self sustaining space colony, to be able to function perpetually, the ability to manufacture any of the parts necessary to maintain, or expand, the structure is an obvious necessity. Conventional metal working techniques, consisting of forming, cutting, casting or welding present extreme difficulties in size and complexity that would be difficult to integrate into a self sustaining structure.

Forming requires heavy high powered machinery to press metals into their final desired shapes. Cutting procedures, such as milling and lathing, also require large, heavy, complex machinery, but also waste tremendous amounts of material as large bulk shapes are cut away emerging the final part. Casting metal parts requires a complex mold construction and preparation procedures, not only does a negative mold of the final part need to be constructed, but the mold needs to be prepared, usually by coating in ceramic slurries, before the molten metal is applied. Unless thousands of parts are required, the molds are a waste of energy, resources, and effort. Joining is a flexible process, and usually achieved by welding or brazing and works by melting metal between two fixed parts in order to join them — but the fixed parts present the same manufacturing problems.

Ideally then, in any self sustaining structure, metal parts should be constructed only in the final desired shape but without the need of a mold and very limited need for cutting or joining. In a salient progressive step toward this necessary goal, NASA demonstrates the innovative Electron Beam Free Forming Fabrication (http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/electron_beam.htm) Process. A rapid metal fabrication process essentially it “prints” a complex three dimensional object by feeding a molten wire through a computer controlled gun, building the part, layer by layer, and adding metal only where you desire it. It requires no molds and little or no tooling, and material properties are similar to other forming techniques. The complexity of the part is limited only by the imagination of the programmer and the dexterity of the wire feed and heating device.

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Jun 9, 2009

Hack-Jet: Losing a commercial airliner in a networked world

Posted by in categories: complex systems, counterterrorism, futurism

Hack-Jet

When there is a catastrophic loss of an aircraft in any circumstances, there are inevitably a host of questions raised about the safety and security of the aviation operation. The loss of Air France flight 447 off the coast of Brazil with little evidence upon which to work inevitably raises the level of speculation surrounding the fate of the flight. Large-scale incidents such as this create an enormous cloud of data, which has to be investigated in order to discover the pattern of events, which led to the loss (not helped when some of it may be two miles under the ocean surface). So far French authorities have been quick to rule out terrorism it has however, emerged that a bomb hoax against an Air France flight had been made the previous week flying a different route from Argentina. This currently does not seem to be linked and no terrorist group has claimed responsibility. Much of the speculation regarding the fate of the aircraft has focused on the effects of bad weather or a glitch in the fly-by-wire systemthat could have caused the plane to dive uncontrollably. There is however another theory, which while currently unlikely, if true would change the global aviation security situation overnight. A Hacked-Jet.

Given the plethora of software modern jets rely on it seems reasonable to assume that these systems could be compromised by code designed to trigger catastrophic systemic events within the aircraft’s navigation or other critical electronic systems. Just as aircraft have a physical presence they increasingly have a virtual footprint and this changes their vulnerability. A systemic software corruption may account for the mysterious absence of a Mayday call — the communications system may have been offline. Designing airport and aviation security to keep lethal code off civilian aircraft would in the short-term, be beyond any government civil security regime. A malicious code attack of this kind against any civilian airliner would, therefore be catastrophic not only for the airline industry but also for the wider global economy until security caught up with this new threat. The technical ability to conduct an attack of this kind remains highly specialized (for now) but the knowledge to conduct attacks in this mold would be as deadly as WMD and easier to spread through our networked world. Electronic systems on aircraft are designed for safety not security, they therefore do not account for malicious internal actions.

While this may seem the stuff of fiction in January 2008 this broad topic was discussed due to the planned arrival of the Boeing 787, which is designed to be more ‘wired’ –offering greater passenger connectivity. Air Safety regulations have not been designed to accommodate the idea of an attack against on-board electronic systems and the FAA proposed special conditions , which were subsequently commented upon by the Air Line Pilots Association and Airbus. There is some interesting back and forth in the proposed special conditions, which are after all only to apply to the Boeing 787. In one section, Airbus rightly pointed out that making it a safety condition that the internal design of civilian aircraft should ‘prevent all inadvertent or malicious changes to [the electronic system]’ would be impossible during the life cycle of the aircraft because ‘security threats evolve very rapidly’.Boeing responded to these reports in an AP article stating that there were sufficient safeguards to shut out the Internet from internal aircraft systems a conclusion the FAA broadly agreed with - Wired Magazine covered much of the ground. During the press surrounding this the security writer Bruce Schneier commented that, “The odds of this being perfect are zero. It’s possible Boeing can make their connection to the Internet secure. If they do, it will be the first time in the history of mankind anyone’s done that.” Of course securing the airborne aircraft isn’t the only concern when maintenance and diagnostic systems constantly refresh while the aircraft is on the ground. Malicious action could infect any part of this process. While a combination of factors probably led to the tragic loss of flight AF447 the current uncertainty serves to highlight a potential game-changing aviation security scenario that no airline or government is equipped to face.

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