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Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Trollope

“Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower”*…

 

When warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence, many doomsayers cite philosopher Nick Bostrom’s paperclip maximizer thought experiment. [See here for an amusing game that demonstrates Bostrom’s fear.]

Imagine an artificial intelligence, he says, which decides to amass as many paperclips as possible. It devotes all its energy to acquiring paperclips, and to improving itself so that it can get paperclips in new ways, while resisting any attempt to divert it from this goal. Eventually it “starts transforming first all of Earth and then increasing portions of space into paperclip manufacturing facilities”. This apparently silly scenario is intended to make the serious point that AIs need not have human-like motives or psyches. They might be able to avoid some kinds of human error or bias while making other kinds of mistake, such as fixating on paperclips. And although their goals might seem innocuous to start with, they could prove dangerous if AIs were able to design their own successors and thus repeatedly improve themselves. Even a “fettered superintelligence”, running on an isolated computer, might persuade its human handlers to set it free. Advanced AI is not just another technology, Mr Bostrom argues, but poses an existential threat to humanity.

Harvard cognitive scientist Joscha Bach, in a tongue-in-cheek tweet, has countered this sort of idea with what he calls “The Lebowski Theorem”:

No superintelligent AI is going to bother with a task that is harder than hacking its reward function.

Why it’s cool to take Bobby McFerrin’s advice at: “The Lebowski Theorem of machine superintelligence.”

* Alan Kay

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As we get down with the Dude, we might send industrious birthday greetings to prolific writer Anthony Trollope; he was born on this date in 1815.  Trollope wrote 47 novels, including those in the “Chronicles of Barsetshire” and “Palliser” series (along with short stories and occasional prose).  And he had a successful career as a civil servant; indeed, among his works the best known is surely not any of his books, but the iconic red British mail drop, the “pillar box,” which he invented in his capacity as Postal Surveyor.

 The end of a novel, like the end of a children’s dinner-party, must be made up of sweetmeats and sugar-plums.  (source)

 

The view from above…

Parking at Memorial Stadium, Philadelphia

Alex MacLean trained as an architect and a pilot– education that’s he’s put to powerful use in his career as a photographer, exploring the relationship between the natural and the built environments…

“Daisy docks,” Chicago

Interchange, Kansas City

The U.S.- Mexico border

Many more stunning “views from above,” taken all over the world, at MacLean’s web site.

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As we find a comfortable altitude, we might send industrious birthday greetings to prolific novelist Anthony Trollope; he was born on this date in 1815.  Trollope wrote 47 novels, including those in the “Chronicles of Barsetshire” and “Palliser” series (along with short stories and occasional prose).  And he had a successful career as a civil servant; indeed, among his works the best known is surely not any of his books, but the iconic red British mail drop, the “pillar box,” which he invented in his capacity as Postal Surveyor.

 The end of a novel, like the end of a children’s dinner-party, must be made up of sweetmeats and sugar-plums.  (source)

Making ends meet…

source

Most readers will know that Charlotte Bronte spent most of her daylight hours in service as a governess, and long-time (pre-blog) readers may remember that, in his capacity as Postal Surveyor, Anthony Trollope invented the iconic British “pillar box”…  but did one know that T.S. Eliot toiled as a bank clerk?  Or that Henry Fielding, the creator of the ribald Tom Jones, sat as a Magistrate?

Happy, Lapham’s Quarterly has provided a helpful chart:  Day Jobs.

As we turn again to that unfinished screenplay, we might recall that it was on this date in 1827 that John Walker, a chemist from Stockton-on-Tees, recorded the first ever sale of friction matches; Walker had accidentally created them the prior year by mixing potassium chlorate and antimony sulfide.  He recorded the first sales as “Sulphurata Hyper-Oxygenata Frict,” but by the second sale (five months later), he was getting the hang of naming: “friction lights.”

John Walker

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