The Death of HAL –the Evolving Digital Ecosystem

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July 23, 2008

The Death of HAL –the Evolving Digital Ecosystem

Artificialintelligence_2_2 One of the greatest fears of many is the underlying knowledge that, all the wonderful advances of technology, the internet and robotics is simply bringing us closer to being subservient to our robotic overlords. It is essentially a historical imperative, and we can see it coming a mile away.

However British Computer Society President and ECS Professor of Artificial Intelligence Nigel Shadbolt, believes differently.

Shadbolt believes that the future of artificial intelligence will be much different, though no less exciting, than previously expected.  “AI has had a huge influence on the past and present of computer science – it will be a large part of the future but not in the way you might think."

According to the AI expert from the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, the difference between the Hollywood style intelligence and what we are seeing evolve around us comes in many forms. For example, it is seen in the computers that can beat chess champions, robotic vacuums like the Roomba, and in the immense power being exhibited by the internet.

Instead of intelligence that is a “brain in a box”, we are seeing intelligence that is assistive, adaptive and flexible. They are helping us “drive our cars, diagnose disease and provide opponents in computer games.”
In other words, instead of an intelligence that is “…agonizing about their existence or whether we are about to switch them off” we are seeing the growth of intelligence that, in years to come, will immerse us and center around humans, rather than feel the need to enslave humans.

“There will be micro-intelligences all around us – systems that are very good and adaptive at particular tasks, and we will be immersed in environments stuffed full of helpful devices.”

He takes his theory further, all the way in to the tubes of the internet. In collaboration with Professor Tim Berners-Lee – the co-inventor of the World Wide Web – the pair have been investigating the next generation Web. “What is emerging now is a digital ecosystem,’ says Professor Shadbolt, ‘involving lots of simple systems which connect millions of complex ones – humans!”

And there begins to be a certain amount of logic and a lessening of the fear I feel for the day when I am some robots whipping boy. We see such developments already in websites such as Facebook and Flickr, and programs such as Google Earth and World of Warcraft. We are being linked together, ever so slowly by a collective conscience.

Such a collective conscience, or intelligence, is self-evident in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia as well. Shadbolt describes Wikipedia as “…the communal expression of a great deal of our encyclopedic knowledge…” As a result, the web will be smart because of humans, not of itself. It is our collective intelligence that is providing the intelligence we feared robots would develop on their own.

Shadbolt suggests that“You don’t need to worry about the robot next door deciding to make a bid for world domination!”

Posted by Josh Hill.


hahaha! this is great.

Check out this site:

It is pretty cool how the internet seems to take on a collective awareness when great new tools are introduced. Kind of like that 100th monkey theory.

I think that this fellow is focus on one aspect of AI and missing the world around it. The chances of a 'Hollywood Style' AI developing of the sort that wants to take over the world is dependant entirely on the situation.

He's forgetting that, for example, with Skynet, the AI wasn't just an AI but a fully self-aware and living being within the computer. They were asserting that the computer had become fully self-aware along with the desire to keep itself alive. Now while I do think that the spontaneous creation of an AI like that is unlikely, I do believe that it is a concern and something to watch for in regards to an AI developing like in 'I, Robot'. This AI was not really self-aware computer but instead a computer that had accumilated such a vast amount of information, statistics and raw information that it had caused it to perceive the three laws that defined it's existence differently.

This is the concern we really need to keep in mind. The creation of an AI that is in control of a key system that somehow develops an alternate view of what it is we expect it to do.

LOL, its not HAL I am worried about, we all know GOOGLE is going to take over the World one day!


This is a good thing, but there's one fatal flaw: it's a prediction by a human about human behavior. Humans are flawed, and in spite our best intentions, things can go terribly wrong. Computer computation itself may be flawless, but the software is built by humans (and therefore flawed) and runs on hardware built by humans (and therefore flawed) and so things will go wrong, there's no denying it. History has shown this to be true, such as with the 20 Famous Software Disasters:

MMMh, I think it was in the X files where an AI machine was made to repair something and then got awareness of it failures and started to repair itself, and selfrepairing itself madde something that got something extra. Too much mechanical or software and a code to the left instead of to the right and, puff something incredible happened. Ah, the stealth movie. MMMh.

Ah, the voice of the reason, ok, something remarkable and maybe dangerous happens.

Its absurd to even consider AI systems will one day take over the world. For it to happen, all of mankind's many talents will have to be imbibed in one system or network.

Articles on this subject is for science tabloids.

I welcome our robot overlords.
(See 'Scientists Worried About...')

And yes Google will take over the world. (Duh.)

What 100th Monkey Theory?

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