Sunday, March 5, 2017

So the Problem We Pose Is How to Create an Intelligent Agent and Then Prevent It from Destroying This World?


Rae Armantrout

So the problem we pose
is how to create an intelligent
and then prevent it
from destroying this world?
 "Content monitoring
that required the AI's
intentional states
to be transparent
might not be feasible
for all architectures."
 A long green straw
stuck in the ground
with two ears (leaves)
on either side
at intervals
 What we meant
by "listening stations"
and when we began
to mean this.
 Perhaps its goal would be
to have "thoughts"
pass through its "head"
so it could record them.
"Preparedness is critical."
"Kiss all hope goodbye."
"A friend wants you to like it."


  1. Humble & grateful, & serendipity do:

  2. 1)i was intrigued by the line armantrout quoted,

    "Content monitoring that required the AIs intentional states to be transparent might not be feasible for all architectures."

    it is from Nick Bostrom's chapter, "Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence", in

    Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence
    edited by Susan Schneider

    Bostrom goes on to say (Some neural networks, for example, are opaque, as they represent information holistically and in ways that do not necessarily match up with human concepts.) This may be a reason to avoid using such architectures.

    it occurs to me that this opacity, undesirable from a monitoring perspective, might be seen as feature, not a flaw, by those who want to avoid scrutiny

    2)i was also reminded of the first bible reading from mass this weekend - the account of the disobedient eating, prompted by the serpent, from the tree of knowledge of good and evil - this story has always bothered me

    looking for a james tate poem with "snake" in it, i found

    Snake-Charming Secrets of the Indian Subcontinent
    by James Tate

    I was seated at the bar having my usual
    five o’clock cocktail, a martini. It had been
    a hellish day at the office and I was trying to
    shake off some of the tension. “Can I have your
    olive?” the stranger sitting next to me asked.
    “Hell, no,” I answered testily. “Well, then, can
    I have a sip, I’ve never tasted a martini.”
    “Get your own,” I said. That shut him up. I
    went back to my thoughts. The boss was driving
    me too hard, maybe looking for an excuse to
    let me go. I wouldn’t be the first. I stared
    into the mirror behind the bar. The man next
    to me looked truly wretched. “What’s your
    problem, pal?” I said to him. “You’re not
    eating your olive,” he said.

    1. in his poem "Yonder", tate includes an image taken from ancient myth

      the three azure-eyed flower-weaving daughters (under every flower a serpent coiled)


      Look yonder at winding boy surrounded by the three azure-eyed flower-weaving daughters
      (under every flower a serpent coiled).
      They are like liana vines around a palmetto.

      They ply their shuttles in the roaring loom of time, in the inaccessible regions.
      And when they die their web is left unfinished.

      Winding boy insisted: "Hurting is not my profession."
      Yonder winding boy volunteered to walk them home in the evening.

      Then a bulldozer came down the pike,
      and then a psychiatrist covered with lice.

      Winding boy and the remaining daughters exchanged niceties
      and the World-Egg and dentistry.

      There are many words on the tongues of the ineffable,
      to clash their cymbals before the cavern of night.
      They direct the sound, the sound which "goes out into all worlds,"
      for their god is a twisted dragon, a certain spiral force.

      and now i'm reminded of a rhyme trump would repeat on the campaign trail, which finishes - "you knew damn well i was a snake before you took me in"

      as they say, fine metaphors abound

    2. some thoughts from rabbi daniel reiser...

      In her book Kitchen Table Wisdom, author and doctor Rachel Naomi Remen writes, “When Eve ate the fruit, she became an adult, and gained the freedom of an adult to go out into a world of complexity, adventure, responsibility, and change. To have her own life and to make her own choices.”

      As Remen correctly identifies, eating from the Tree of Knowledge means embracing complexity. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge will require facing the parts of ourselves that we’d rather not know. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge will require the bravery to live face-to-face with a broken world, and if we’re lucky, to no longer feel lost, but find ourselves amidst the brokenness.

      In our popular culture, we imagine that the forbidden fruit was an apple. But the Torah doesn’t specify what kind of fruit it was. And so, the ancient Rabbis set out to creatively determine what was the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

      One sage declared that it must have been a fig — for, after Adam and Eve discovered that they were naked, they sewed themselves clothing out of fig leaves. Another sage declared that, although they don’t even grow on trees, it must have been some sort of grape — for a grape may sometimes taste bitter, like the bitterness of leaving the garden.

      But I tend to agree with the sage who suggested that it was an olive. An olive’s pit, the sage points out, is very close to its skin; its core is not too far from its edge. The olive is the symbol of a person who is, as much as possible, the same on the outside as she is on the inside. An olive is a person who is powerfully self-conscious. An olive is a person who gets lost in the woods just like the rest of the rest of us; but when she does get lost, she knows how to look within herself and find herself again.

      This week, we begin again with the first parshah of the Torah. Year after year, we come back again to this very spot, where the story of our people begins with one tiny, radical moment. A woman eats an olive, and the entirety of Jewish history, of Jewish wisdom, of Jewish thought is catapulted out of this moment — this courageous, terrifying, transformative moment of awareness. Every year, we come back to this beginning. And we discover that the first step in finding ourselves is the knowledge that we’re lost.

      as i am sure tate knew, fine metaphors abound