Monday, August 27, 2007

AIs let humans live over math problem

There is a possible future scenario where AIs let humans live due to math. AIs, especially if derived from human intelligence and economic models might covet what they do not have and cannot make. Some examples of scarce or unobtainable resources would be art, fallibility and imperfection, all generated by humans; anything non-mathematically random and to which a curve could not be fitted or any other math applied. AIs might thereby keep humans alive through this quirk, not because they are benevolent or enjoy art or human imperfection as art but rather because humans constitute a vexing math problem. It is unclear what might happen after equations have been developed to explain human behavior...

What are some other possible unintended consequences with AI?

Though easily remedied, there could be some embarrassing AI birth defects such as an AI compiled without write capability. Or a case of co-processisng dependency and anachronistic behavior when the remnants of human sexual jealousy have been inadvertently mapped onto an AI. Why AI-beta2 are you spending so much time processing on AI-delata3’s kernel?

A more serious possibility could be a normal situation of forking copies of a mindfile for research, simulation or other activities gone awry when one forked copy evolves malignantly from the original such that it no longer agrees to re-merge and has an independent survival drive, the natural extreme of which would be plotting to remove all instances of the original.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Second Life Meta-Me

The experience of identity is often heavily influenced by physicality (race, gender, height, nose size, etc.). Virtual worlds such as Second Life offer freedom from physicality via unlimited self re-presentation opportunities.

So far, merely the surface of human creativity has been scratched as the majority of avatars are tall, fit, young and attractive which underlines both physical world inferiority sentiments and an unproductive focus on superficial aesthetics.

Virtual worlds could be used to visually represent another more abstract layer beyond physical appearance, the more important and meaningful parts of individuals such as values, actions, ideas and creativity. This could be facilitated by bringing existing Internet-based information into virtual worlds. Visual representations could be executed with shapes, size, coloring, accentuations, vibrations, etc., for example, the bigger the glow around the avatar, the higher the social capital. People might even want to represent themselves in the physical world based on some of these ideas.

Reality filters
Not only could there be a deeper granularity of self-representation but also filters for viewing others. Filters could be based on preference, literally blocking those with unattractive value systems, efficiency, seeing only those other avatars who also wanted to interact regarding certain topics like education, business, sex, singularity, science, etc., or other attributes.

Below are some suggestions for new ways of avatorial representation:

1. Profile-based avatars
Avatars are a visual expression of their profile tags, for example an extropian transhumanist singularitarian might look different from a vegan sustainable development social worker from a politically conservative attorney, but maybe not. Interest indicators could be amalgamated or cycled through in kaleidoscope fashion. The assumption is that social interaction could be enhanced with overt interest-signaling.

2. Reputation-based avatars
Avatars are an expression of how others see them, a visual representation of how they have been rated by others, in-world or as a consolidation of Internet reputation mechanisms such as eBay, Amazon, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc.

3. Idea-based avatars
Avatars are visual representations of the degree and quality of the person's ideas. This may not be able to be rendered until the underlying information is more explicitly captured, either self-evaluated or as another level of reputation. Amazon asks "Was this review helpful?" and a creativity evaluator could inquire "Were innovative and good ideas described here?"

4. Value system-based avatars
Avatars are a visual representation of a person's values. Value systems can be elicited in a variety of ways including as specified directly in a profile, determined from a set of questions, deducted from a log of Internet-based activities or abstracted from physical world activities such as purchasing, recycling, volunteering, exercising, etc. A means of obejective data collection would be important, barcodes/rfid would work in the case of purchases. Would this be tyranny or freedom? Certainly it would be optional and some people would choose to increase their social capital by broadcasting high-congruity lifestyles.

5. Presence-based avatars
RSS presence feeds are streamed into Second Life and aggregated into a visual representation of facebook, jaiku, pownce, twitter, wakoopa, blogging, emailing, texting, social music listening (pandora,, etc.) and other lifecasting activities. How close a representation of self would people perceive this to be? The essence of individuality is increasingly available on the Internet.

6. Real life Sims Online avatars
Extending the Sims Online game, in-world avatars could follow the same percentages of time spent on activities that humans do in the physical world, working, exercising, relaxing, socializing, eating, sleeping, etc. An invaluable tool for extrospection, the sim could be sped up to show the natural end states of one's current activities, and altered to see different outcomes (e.g.; a 1% increase in exercise leads to greater longevity).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Improving science innovation

To experience most significant scientific advances, humans are dependent on the clunky unreengineered process of science innovation and deployment. Potential improvements to the innovation phase are discussed below.

In the absence of clear feedback loops aligning research investigations with implemented results, scientists can languish in isolated labs for years and the majority do not seem to care whether their findings are useful to or implemented by others. For type A scientists, the in-place incentive system is academic publishing and acknowledgment. Publishing is a codependent phenomenon with scientific publications increasingly exerting influence over the direction of research to generate more interesting reading.

Suggested Improvements

1. Open human knowledge databases
Without yet destabilizing the publishing juggernaut, some progress could be made in releasing already published and unpublishable findings into open databases of human knowledge. There are some early examples of these resources in Physics with ArXiv, the NIH's PubMed and the Earth System Grid for climate research, however there is an opportunity for a new layer of applications to make the information much more accessible to different levels of audiences.

The next three suggestions have to do with creating accountability and a better feedback loop between scientific findings and the use of that information.

2. Quantitative values attached to findings
A system of quantitative values could be applied to research so that findings and scientists could be measured and compared. Supervisors, peers and industry colleagues could rank findings based on a variety of parameters. Unpublishable and null findings would also be incorporated into the valuation program.

3. Annual performance reviews for scientists
The rigor of quarterly goal setting and review, 360 degree feedback and other performance evaluation metrics implemented decades ago in the business environment should also be de rigueur in the scientific community. Performance metrics would be a good start, incorporating what are now standard corporate principles of leadership, communication and management science to reduce subjectivity and otherwise improve scientific working environments would also be helpful.

4. Broader scientific mindset
The most successful scientists have been those who have perceived their roles as not the mere discovers and handers-off of the Truth but also as being responsible for rendering their findings implementable by others. Emphasizing full realization of pursuits and results from a more service-driven than ego-driven mindset could also produce better results more quickly.