Live from San Francisco it’s the WordCamp San Francisco. Tim Ferris is giving an excellent presentation about his blogging adventures. He’s quite the SEO expert as are many people who do not bill themselves as SEO experts. (where those who DO often are NOT).
Matt Mullenweg introduced the event and will speak later. Matt Cutts from Google is up next. Over 700 registrants per WordPress.
Kudos so far to the WordPress gang for a really well run show – smoother than many conferences that cost much more.
The Twitter 140 Conference is very well attended here in Mountain View though so far the sessions I’ve heard have not been that inspired. Still, Twitter’s influence is huge and getting bigger by the day so it’s great to see so many Twitter folks together in one place.
This piece at the NYT is not a very inspired article but it does outline some basic Artificial Intelligence history and issues. I think it remains *nearly impossible* for many to grasp the implications of the coming convergence of human and machine capabilities – a convergence that is going on at this very moment in subtle ways but which will likely blossom into something amazing within a decade, perhaps less. The first self-aware computer is likely to be the last significant invention of humankind. Not because it will destroy us, but because it will make our intellects *obsolete*.
The following “science fiction” inventions are alive and well *right now*:
Braingate and Emotiv Headset: Mind control of computers
DARPA Autonomous Vehicles: Cars that drive themselves through complex city traffic with *zero* human input
Blue Brain: Supercomputer working simulation of a neocortical column of a rat.
Thanks to Paul for pointing us ot this interesting article about blogger liabilities. I’d be interested in how folks here view this topic. Do I need “blog comment insurance”? Wall Street Journal on Blogger lawsuits
Bloggers are increasingly getting sued or threatened with legal action for everything from defamation to invasion of privacy to copyright infringement. In 2007 — the most recent data available — 106 civil lawsuits against bloggers and others in social networks and online forums were tallied by the Citizen Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, up from just 12 in 2003. There have been about $17.4 million in trial awards against bloggers to date, according to the Media Law Resource Center in New York, a nonprofit clearinghouse that tracks free-speech cases.
What allows people to work, and love, as they grow old? By the time the Grant Study men had entered retirement, Vaillant, who had then been following them for a quarter century, had identified seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically. Employing mature adaptations was one. The others were education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight. Of the 106 Harvard men who had five or six of these factors in their favor at age 50, half ended up at 80 as what Vaillant called “happy-well” and only 7.5 percent as “sad-sick.” Meanwhile, of the men who had three or fewer of the health factors at age 50, none ended up “happy-well” at 80. Even if they had been in adequate physical shape at 50, the men who had three or fewer protective factors were three times as likely to be dead at 80 as those with four or more factors. What factors don’t matter? Vaillant identified some surprises. Cholesterol levels at age 50 have nothing to do with health in old age. While social ease correlates highly with good psychosocial adjustment in college and early adulthood, its significance diminishes over time. The predictive importance of childhood temperament also diminishes over time: shy, anxious kids tend to do poorly in young adulthood, but by age 70, are just as likely as the outgoing kids to be “happy-well.” Vaillant sums up: “If you follow lives long enough, the risk factors for healthy life adjustment change. There is an age to watch your cholesterol and an age to ignore it.” The study has yielded some additional subtle surprises. Regular exercise in college predicted late-life mental health better than it did physical health. And depression turned out to be a major drain on physical health: of the men who were diagnosed with depression by age 50, more than 70 percent had died or were chronically ill by 63. More broadly, pessimists seemed to suffer physically in comparison with optimists, perhaps because they’re less likely to connect with others or care for themselves.
As we quickly approach the rise of self-aware and self-improving intelligent machines the debates are going to sound pretty strange, but they are arguably the most important questions humanity has ever faced. Over at Michael’s Blog there’s a great discussion about how unfriendly AI’s could pose an existential risk to humanity.
Great references to make your earlier point though I remain very skeptical of Steve’s worries even though one can easily agree with most of his itemized points. They just don’t lead to the conclusion that a “free range” AI is likely to pose a threat to humanity.
With a hard takeoff it seems likely to me that any *human* efforts at making a friendly AI will be modified to obscurity within a very short time. More importantly though it seems very reasonable to assume machine AI ethics won’t diverge profoundly from the ethics humanity has developed over time. We’ve become far less ruthless and selfish in our thinking than in the past, both on an individual and collective basis. Most of the violence now rises from *irrational* approaches, not the supremely rational ones we can expect from Mr. and Mrs. AI.