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The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2020 7:34 pm
by Clockwork
It’s definitely artificial stupidity. I mean they’re never gonna win Jeopardy, but in important sense I think they were real creatures.

So I fell into this rabbithole.

Dr Steve Grand's life passion is to build a living AI, wether he's achieved it,(or wether he can) is a cause of confusion.
He seems to tentatively believe that they're alive, but tends to eschew that word, seeming to prefer the word "real." I think this has a certain meaning, that while they may not be alive, they are not "just machines" either.

His best known invention is the norn, a simple artificial life that were released to the public as pets in 1996 (as a part of a software called "Creatures"). I happen to be familiar myself. I believe they are smart enough to be stupid, as opposed to merely flawed.

Steve builds his AI on the basis of "bottom up design".
This means they should "start from the beginning" and be be built out of genes, neurones, and biochemicals (or simulated substances) that you then use to build a brain, organs, senses and learning (and theoretically thought, emotion). They should not know anything and should learn. Steve posits that living things are controlled by no instinct, impulse or ego, the entire thing makes the decision. That is "free will."
Humans tend to think that our ego (our "I,myself")controls us, this is opposed to Steve's definition of free will.

I believe for hardware AI (which Steve has) these rules function a little differently, I don't see how a steel thing would have genes or virtual organs, though Steve mentions hardware AI hold more promise because they can potentially see the world like we do rather than see a virtual one.

I could probably post a little more explanation on my understanding of Steve's work, but i'm already finding it hard to write this post in an easily readable way. Maybe ask me about it and I'll try to bring up one of his posts if I don't get it. Also I may make this a masterpost.

A note on the "emotional robots" you see on news articles. The goal appears to be to make them "display" humanlike emotions and play on the heartstrings of humans, as well as be directly programmed to peform functions. If the creator's intention is not a simulacra but something "real" then I want them to explain to me in painstaking detail why emotions cannot be merely programmed, because that's exactly what Steve does.

Steve Grand - Wikipedia
Wordpress - He....complains a lot, but his somewhat older posts about AI are here
Cyberlife-research - Archived website (old but good, explains stuff)
Creation - Book (read)
Growing up with Lucy - Book
The Brain in the machine - Magazine Article

Ever since C1 I’ve been trying to understand how the mammalian brain gives rise to imagination and mental imagery, and I think I’m really onto something now that can be implemented in real time on a PC (after all, computers are at least a thousand times more powerful than they were when I started writing C1). I think I have the key to an artificial life form that can actually think. Norns could react but they couldn’t think – they couldn’t make plans, have hopes or intentions, dream dreams, learn physical skills, etc. Higher consciousness can’t exist without an imagination either. It remains to be seen how smart they actually prove to be but they’ll certainly be much more realistic than the norns in lots of ways and hopefully a lot more fun to look after. - Grandroids

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:56 pm
by DrFrag
How have I not heard of this guy? I skimmed his blog and he sounds brilliant.

Last year I went on a dive into understanding AI. I have a computer background, but computer science (which I didn't do formally due to bad health) didn't cover much AI in the early 90s so I thought I should catch up. I watched Patrick Winston's lectures on Artificial Intelligence at MIT, Robert Sapolsky's lectures on Human Behavioural Biology at Stanford, and digging into free will and the nature of existance and consciousness I checked out Paul Bloom's Intro to Psych at Yale, and Jordan Peterson's lectures on Personality and Maps of Meaning at Toronto. I also watched his lectures on the Psychological Significance of the Bible at Toronto, since I studied theology and I'm interested to know why religion seems to be an evolutionary necessity. I also enjoy Lex Fridman's AI Podcast, which is more at an application level.

I recommend all of these. Winston's lecture 12a and 12b blew my mind the most, even though much of the maths went over my head. Watching Winston and Sapolsky talk about neurons with such similarity in such different contexts is really something. Bloom's lectures pretty much cover the same ground as Peterson's Personality lectures. I prefer Peterson because he adds lots of anecdotes and life advice, but he does tend to look at capitalism through rose-coloured glasses. Fridman's interviews I like to pick and choose, because some of his guests bore me while others are amazing.

Anyway I have way too many opinions on this stuff to write here, but I have 3 big takeaways from all this.

  • Humans are biological machines.
  • There is no free will. Sort of.
  • Neural nets work but we don't know why.

I'm happy to talk about any of this stuff. The way I see history playing out long term is that humans aren't some kind of final conclusion in evolution. We're just another step along a multi-billion year path and it looks like AI will be our successor just as we are the successors to apes.

I've bookmarked your links on Steve Grand. I'll follow you down the rabbit hole when I feel like I have the mental time and energy to really commit to it. Thanks!

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:16 pm
by Clockwork
Over the last 300 years we've come to understand machines, and it raised the question of whether we're machines. And I don't think there's any other answer but, yes, of course we're machines. What else could we be? The reason that troubles people is because they think that all machines are like the machines we've made so far. - Interview

I think the word machine has a bit too much meaning as something that is built inorganically,but I suppose it has context, like the word mechanism.

I warn you i'm going to argue against the existence of free will, at least in the simplistic form that we normally view it, but please be careful what inferences you draw; because I disagree with position A, does not mean I am arguing the opposite position B. - Creation

He seems unsurprised about neural networks,like if you simulate a brain then it will run.

DrFrag wrote:We're just another step along a multi-billion year path and it looks like AI will be our successor just as we are the successors to apes.

I think we'll run out of the resources to produce electricity just as fast as we run out of food or water or whatever disaster you think will befall the human race.

That's a lot of...stuff. I'll see if I have time to get through it.

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:53 pm
by DrFrag
The "humans are machines" argument is, in my opinion, the claim that life and consciousness are a result of an incredibly complex combination of chemical elements found on the periodic table and that humans and life don't need some kind of "breath of god" within us to exist, or some spiritual force keeping us alive, or some metaphysical link to a universal consciousness. I think physicists being able to detect particles as intangible as neutrinos is evidence enough that any force or particle strong enough to actually affect living cells would be detectable, and there's no evidence that such a force exists or is required for life.

I want to comment on religion at this point, because it's easy to follow "humans are machines" with "therefore religion is dumb" and that's absolutely not the case. Every culture and tribe on Earth has religion or faith or spirituality, so that's probably a requirement for survival. If there were any without religion, they didn't survive. There's a bunch of stuff in the Old Testament about ritual cleanliness. Most people know about the "don't eat pork" rule that coincidentally protected them from parasites found in uncooked pig meat, but there's a ton of other rules to do with handling dead bodies and lepers and mould that protected them. Nowadays we know about germs and infections, but I don't think that's reason to chuck out religion and assume science is good enough to replace all of it. Prayer seems to help people colate their thoughts and feelings in a similar way to confiding in someone or keeping a diary. Singing spiritual songs with people has been shown to improve health. Religious organisations seem to run an awful lot of soup kitchens, prison chaplaincies, youth programmes, homeless assistance programmes, and other things that help society. So there's some huge benefits that emerge from religion and I don't think human culture is properly equipped to do without it right now, or possibly ever. I've seen too many people transformed by what they percieve as spiritual experiences to want to suggest that we should discard it.

The really great thing about seeing humans as biological machines is it opens the door to scope for creating a comparable AI. And not just some kind of cold C3-PO droid assistant, but one with emergent properties like emotion. If those things can arise from biological neural nets, why not artificial ones? People like to pose the question "can a robot feel love?" but I think it's more interesting to ask "can a robot feel fear? Would it want to?" When we evolved from apes and developed a frontal cortex (or neocortex? I can't remember), it let us have a bit of a say over the primitive amygdala in our brain responsible for primal feelings like fear. But it doesn't mean we can or should do away with that. The whole limbic system is responsible for some of our most problematic but greatest human traits. Would you give up fear, knowing you could never experience the thrill of a rollercoaster? If you could be redesigned to never feel hunger or the pleasure from hunger being satisfied, would you? There's some great benefits to having a brain more sophisticated than an ape's, like being civil to one another, but the primal stuff is also some of the most fun stuff (like sex). I think advanced artificial life will be everything we are, but more and better. Even a basic human brain with the lightning fast mathematical skills of a pocket calculator, plus a built-in wikipedia, would be an incredible leap forward in intelligent life. And I don't think it's going to be confused and mystified by this human thing we call laughter.

Wow I haven't even got to free will yet, haha. I think I've written enough for now.

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:56 pm
by Tetsuwan Penguin
Religion has it's down sides. Just how many wars have been started in the name of a god? How many people have been slaughtered because they didn't believe in the god of an enemy? Ironically, the same god whose laws were to treat others as you would want to be treated, had his name used to inspire multiple wars on non-believers to force them to convert and bow to his will (with the blessings of the Pope). The Bible is full of stories of cities that fell because their citizens were wicked (meaning non-believers). Nuff' said.

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:18 pm
by Clockwork
And I'm going on but 100% Steve has the correct mindset.

Currently spends 75 hours a week trying to build an AI that lives.
Rejects any offers that have strings attatched,that want to apply his talent for any purpose.
Has been tinkering with clocks and radios since he was a child.
Self-taught biology, engineering and programming.
He sees his areas of study as being alike in a very important way, when he says livings are like "clockwork" he means it.
Is dedicated to making his work as biologically consistent as humanly possible, no programming in the traditional sense, no shortcuts,everything should be emergeant.
Suggests artificial life will save lives, act as guide dogs, drive wheelchairs.
Though currently lacks any application-based mindset, for now his AI's only purpose is to achieve life.
Believes living intelligence is the only real intelligence.
Concieves of living things as machines, and machines as (usually) living.
Believes we may draw conclusions about how brains actually work.
Believes humans will only have full respect for the beauty of life once we "crack it"

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:22 pm
by Strange Wings
Interesting topic, it totally got me hooked! :)

DrFrag wrote:Wow I haven't even got to free will yet, haha. I think I've written enough for now.

Free will is such a difficult and wide topic, one can easily lose himself in it. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche wrote a few essays about it too, as far as I can recall.
I'm sure you know about Benjamin Libet and his experiments on free will? He later came to the conclusion that while we may not always have free will, we've got something called "veto power", or "free WON'T", so that we are able to stop ourselves in time from doing something harmful or something which isn't beneficial for another person. I think it's a matter of one's mindfulness and/or awareness which decides whether or not we're able to apply it.

Clockwork wrote:Believes humans will only have full respect for the beauty of life once we "crack it"

In fact there are a couple of people who already did "crack it" (not cracked up, mind you :P ). I think they're commonly labeled as 'enlightened masters', like Sri Rama Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Donald Trump... ( :cry: ).
'Enlightenment' has become an over-used term anyway, I don't think it's something one can achieve with will power. For a matter of fact, you cannot achieve something which is already present.

I tapped into Advaita Vedanta a bit since the last couple of months, and some things you mention here correlates with what I gathered thus far.
According to the Vedic scriptures and the Upanishads there's this ever-present, all pervading consciousness called "Brahman", which could be called "God" in any other religion; it may also be what the Buddhists call "emptiness", or "Dharmakaya". Today's science might come up with names like "scalar waves", "tachyons", "Higgs bosons", etc.
The assertion of Advaita Vedanta is that each one of us IS this pure consciousness, and by throroughly recognizing this, it will liberate us immediately, no matter what kind of afflictions we're suffering from.
Your recognition of being this ever-present pure consciousness makes the age-old question about free will somewhat redundant because you now know that you are that consciousness reflecting itself on a human experience, which is:

- having a past, a memory collection of upbringing and education (which in fact are nothing but neuronal activities)
- being conditioned in our behaviour and opinions due to our experiences in the past that we either reject or cling to
- being subject to pleasant/unpleasant emotions and feelings

The Vedantic point of view asserts that we're not human beings striving for divine experiences, but rather that we are that collective divine consciousness that experiences itself, or better: reflects itself AS being human; including all suffering and rapture that comes along in our lifes.
Once this has been recognized, the suffering from pain/illness doesn't happen to a separate entity called 'me', it's something that appears in consciousness.
This changes the notion from 'me' as the sufferer to the mere experience of suffering. I, as pure consciousness, am the mere experiencer, hence I cannot be the suffering. The feeling of suffering is the object, I as consciousness am the subject. Therefore, I cannot be it.
Once this recognition is established, a slight space will open up between you as the experiencer and the experienced. This space is free of any concept and preconceived knowledge, there's just freedom and peace. It's the essence of what you are.

This pure consciousness (also called Brahman, Dharmakaya, God etc.) could be roughly compared with a powerful beam of light shot into the clear sky at night. If the air is clean and fogless, you won't see the beam of light itself. You only will be able to see it if you put your hand into the beam ray, making the light reflect on it.
The same applies to our consciousness: it reflects itself on our five senses, or rather, six senses (in the Buddhist tradition the cognitive function is viewed as kind of a sense as well). In our state of deep sleep at night, there's only this pure consciousness present, without reflecting itself on any sensory 'objects', thus when we wake up we won't have any memory of it, apart from the feeling of having slept like a log. :)

This lecture on pure knowing/awareness might be of interest:
Dzogchen Immediate Recognition

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:27 pm
by Tetsuwan Penguin
Mentioning D.J. Trump in the same sentence as 'Enlightenment' is the worst oxymoron (with the emphasis on 'Moron').

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:28 am
by Strange Wings
I am sorry.

You will never hear from me again.

Stay safe everybody. _/\_

Re: The Grand theory of Artificial Idiocy

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:42 pm
by Tetsuwan Penguin
Please don't leave. We can certainly jab at each other a little bit over the insanity of politics. I meant no offense, and took none.