Category Archives: Philosophy

New edition of ‘Conscious’

Yes, indeed, there’s a new edition of the novel!

Updated slightly to reflect changing world events (although, sadly, all the initial predictions are pretty much coming true now).  And with a swish new cover!  Just search for ‘Vic Grout Conscious’ on Amazon in your region (and choose the one with the cool blue cover) or use the direct links below.

Enjoy!


Turing Test for Dogs

A good, punchy, witty reminder from Existential Comics that most people who drone on about the ‘Turing Test’, particularly news reports that some new software has ‘passed the Turing Test’, have never even read, let alone understood, Turing’s original 1950 paper.

Just to recap on a few essentials:

  • The ‘Turing Test’, even by today’s common interpretation, relies on a human decision-maker, whose sophisitication in recognising AI presumably increases with the development of AI itself.  It isn’t precise enough to be a ‘test’.  It never was a ‘test’.
  • Turing himself, never proposed any ‘test’, merely an illustrative game to compare impressions of intelligence.
  • The figures Turing gave were a prediction of what might be possible, not a benchmark for passing any ‘test’.
  • There is no ‘Turing Test’.

Read the paper!


Swarm Thickness

Most people following this blog will be familiar with the notion of ‘swarm intelligence’. So here’s a question … Could ‘swarm thickness’ be a thing? (Seriously!)

Swarm Intelligence (SI) shows itself all over the place in nature and discussion goes back at least as far as Darwin. Through SI, birds and fish maintain apparently impossibly coordinated formations, ants find the best path to food and bees and termites build complex structures to name just a few examples.

The essence of SI is a wonderfully simple one. Individuals do the most basic of operations, follow the crudest of directives or instincts but the cumulative effect for the flock, shoal, colony or hive is something magnificently clever.  They’re guided, by something they don’t understand, to play a small part in something good.

You can probably see where we’re going here … Could humans be doing this the other way around?  Could we, guided by something we don’t understand, be playing a small part in something awful?

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Can AI Get Too Clever?

No, we’re not talking technological singularity; something a bit more down to earth: just good old fashioned fake news really but with a new twist. A fairly, short, simple, not terribly deep piece this month, but combining with what’s gone before to lead to next month’s proposition broadly along the lines of “Is it possible for a race to ‘stupid’ itself into extinction?”

In an early original episode of Star Trek, Jim Kirk gets into trouble when some recorded video evidence is falsified, appearing to show negligence. As the storyline unfolds, it’s generally accepted that few people would have had the necessary expertise to do this, which eventually points the way to the falsifier. In fact, this concept continued to turn up in many Star Trek series and films as the years passed.

At the time (of the initial episode), in the real world, of course, such an idea would have been almost unimaginable. Back then, it was hard to credibly manipulate still photographs, let alone moving pictures. And it’s hard to say if many people were even speculating so far as, “I wonder how long it will be before we can do that?” Really, it was just bonkers.

But we’ve come a long way.

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