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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Road to Hell Is Paved With Dude Intentions

Digital dystopia is digital utopians all the way down.

1 comment:

jimf said...
Artificial Intelligence: Gods, egos and _Ex Machina_
Martin Robbins
26 January 2016

Even with its flaws, last year’s _Ex Machina_ perfectly captured
the curious relationship between artificial intelligence,
God and ego. . .

It’s taken me a year and a several viewings to collect my
thoughts about _Ex Machina_. Superficially it looks like a film
about the future of artificial intelligence, but like most
science fiction, it tells us more about the present than the
future; and like most discussion around AI, it ends up
reflecting not technological progress so much as human egos.

Artificial intelligence is one of the most narcissistic
fields of research since astronomers gave up the geocentric
universe. . .

This recent cultural obsession – which deserves its own post -
prompts a comment by the awestruck Caleb, after
Nathan the Mad Scientist reveals his attempt to build
a conscious machine and the two helpfully explain to the
audience what a Turing Test is: “If you’ve created a conscious
machine it’s not the history of man… that’s the history of Gods.”

There’s a funny symmetry in our attitudes to God and AIs. . .

For all that it preaches humility, religion holds a core of
extreme arrogance in its analysis of the world. The exact same
arrogance colours virtually everything I’ve seen written
about the Singularity, fictional or otherwise, for decades. . .

Nathan is the epitome of a particular trope in society’s view
of science and technology; the idea that tremendous advances
are driven by determined individual heroes rather than
collaborative teams. In reality of course there’s no way
that one guy could deal with all the technology in that house,
let alone find time to build gel-brains or a sentient machine. . .

He’s also the epitome of an all-too-real trope in silicon valley,
a hyper-masculine denizen of a male-dominated libertarian world
where women are still seen as window dressing for sales booths.
His robots are all ‘women’ - of course the question of whether
an AI can be female in any meaningful sense is wide open -
and function as basically slaves and sex toys. To the extent
that Ava has sexuality, it amounts to a “hole” - Nathan’s word -
in the right place, a feminine appearance, and a willingness
to massage male egos. . .

Nathan becomes a kind of three-part study of ego. He represents
the male ego-driven culture of the tech world. He represents the
film’s buy-in to the idea that great egos drive great scientific
advances. And the decay of his character shows what happens
when an ego faces the reality of its own extinction. . .
“AI risk” discourse correlates **extremely** closely to fears
of slave revolts and fears of feminism. in the latter case,
it’s frequently literally the same people. read . . .’s fucked-up rants
on feminism and change it all from “feminists” to “unfriendly ai”
and see how it looks. the **visceral** fear. . .