On the Sunday morning at Hacklands, after we’d heard some lovely Chopin, James Tagg got up to speak about his new book “Are The Androids Dreaming Yet?” a popular science look at the history and potential future of Artificial Intelligence. I sat down with James a few weeks later to talk more about the ideas in the book.
Back in August, listening to the talk, I realised just how strongly ingrained our idea is that machines will just get smarter and smarter until they meet and then exceed human capability but also the implication that we’re advanced machines ourselves. Many people are resigned to it, accepting that it will happen sometime in the near future. And we do see machines doing things routinely now that a few years ago would have been impossible – the example I always think of is language translation, I would have argued (even five years ago) that it was just too complex a task for machines to do, and while Google Translate isn’t quite perfect, it does a much better job than I would have predicted. I was wrong.
But. I also believe that there are human qualities and activities that machines might mimic well, but that that isn’t the same as them being intelligent. But what if I’m just wrong (again…)?
In his book and in the conversation we’ve recorded, James moves the argument from beliefs and faith, to the arena of mathematical proof. He shows how the work of Hilbert, Gödel and Turing (among many others), which formed the basis of digital computing in the last century, also holds the key to understanding its limitations.
The good news is that creativity and free will remain something we can reserve for ourselves – and to prove it, I woke up this morning and decided to write this post, and I made up which words to use and the order in which I put them. I think.
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PS if you like talking about this stuff and you’re near London, you can join in the conversation at Future of Work: Artificial Intelligence on November 10th.
I’m remembering after the relative structure of commuting to Sittingbourne for #workshop34 that just wandering is an important part of my practice – it’s a way of processing what’s been going on and that I have places to go locally that are great for reflection and self-restoration. I’m also cheered to remember that I carry some high-quality multi-media content production equipment everywhere I go.
So I denied myself a walk in the woods over the weekend but by Monday it was irresistible and when I got there, these words fell out of my mouth. Here’s video and audio for those who still subscribe to the podcatching form of distribution.
Jon Hickman is writing an article on the crowdsourced journalism site, Contributoria on whether or not you can live on social capital. He kindly thought that my experiences wandering around the United States of America might provide some insight, so we had a chat. Even if you’ve heard me talk about it before, you might find it interesting to hear it from this perspective. I’ll certainly be fascinated to compare this conversation with how Jon’s article turns out.
It coincides nicely with the fact that I finally got round to releasing Version 0.1 of the Please Look After This Englishman e-book – this one contains all the blog posts before, during and after the trip. I intend to refine and develop this product (hence the Version 0.1 tag) so if you do download it, I’d love to hear your ideas for other ways to present the story or particular parts that you’d like to hear more about.
Update: The e-book is now also available on Amazon if that makes it easier for you. Although it costs you more plus Big A take a greater percentage and take longer to pay me than Gumroad. Of course, it’s not about the money! :)
We recorded this early last week, but I’ve been holding it back because I didn’t have time to listen to it in order to come up with the usually obsessively and irrelevantly detailed show-notes. But that’s stupid. So for this episode, if there’s anything in there that you want to know more about and but can’t Google, leave a comment and I’ll see if I can explain.
The gist of it all is this: Lloyd’s just been to the osteopath and so is feeling a bit groggy. Fans of the chronic self-deprecating chunter about tech(ish), social(ish), community(ish) matters are unlikely to be disappointed.
If you want to hear Dave on a proper podcast, talking to a proper person, you can find the relevant RSS here.
Dave and I happened to spend the morning together at an unconference – we’ve been meaning to do a podcast together for a while and grabbed the opportunity to do it right there and then.
Here are some links to the things we talk about.
This morning I had a skype conversation with my friend and oftentimes collaborator, Dan Thompson. We talked about what we’ve been doing and stuff and then got into the subject of social art, what it is, how you pay for it, who can do it, etc. It’s not a conversation that’s finished, we’ll be doing more of these, I’m sure.
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