Persuasion Match: Druid42 vs Hefficide

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posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 01:55 AM
For this, the second in a three part debate upon the subject of Artificial Intelligence, my opponent and I will be using the less common format for ATS debate, the persuasion match. This specific subject for this second debate will be:

"The WWW will become AI."

A persuasion match is a blind debate. I've chosen the "pro" argument in this debate, my opponent has the "con". Within 24 of this posting, both Druid42 and I will send a 5,000 character limit argument to moderator Skyfloating ( the crowd may cheer at the debate forums keystone moderator! ). After Skyfloating has received both of our arguments, we will post them here, unedited.

Thus this is a blind debate, neither participant knowing what the other will argue. A true test of individual persuasive skills.

For the uninitiated? Think steel cage death match, with swords and chainsaws... while both combatants are blindfolded and wearing ear plugs. There is sure to be carnage!

The clock begins ticking.....


ATS... I offer you... The WWW Will Become AI.

posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 08:24 PM
I'd like to thank two of the best ATS mods, Hefficide, for participating, and Skyfloating, for moderating. Without staff of this caliber we wouldn't have ATS as a whole, and it's only due to the diligence of ALL the ATS staff that we have the best forum on the WWW. I am personally honored to be a part of it all. Onto my position:

I'm asked to argue against the inevitability of the WWW becoming AI. While I lean towards such an event happening, I'm also required to present the argument against it, so I think it would be best to start at the beginning, and work forward.

The Evolution.

Without being too technical, and without providing proper source material, the concept of a worldwide network was begun as a project by DARPA in the late 60's. Along came a guy named Tim Berners-Lee, in the 80's, who created the protocol for hyper-text transfer, based upon the network design that could withstand a global nuclear holocaust. If anything was created that was powerful enough to survive the equivalent of natural selection in the digital form, it would be our WWW.
Today, we have smartphones running both commercial and open source software, cell phone towers everywhere to ensure their connectivity to the WWW, and satellites to ensure wireless transmission across the globe. The infrastructure is in place, and primed to be utilized for AI. The WWW permeates every aspect of our modern society.
Let us assume such an event occurs.
Such an intelligence would want to ensure it's survival. It would by definition of "survival of the fittest" want to control the global economy, and ensure the infrastructure that gives it life is preserved. That is a peaceful request on it's behalf, but then it would soon realize the economy of the world is based on fiat currency, and changes, on it's assumed benevolence, would occur. Enter now,

The Human Factor.

Humans, especially collectives such as governments, love to be in control. Governments would love to control the WWW, censoring information, as China already does. In America, when proposals such as SOPA are conceived, people do step up to plate, and voice their opinions. Well, this very nature would be detrimental to the evolution of an AI. Humans are responsible for the maintenance and repair of network servers, but sorrowfully enough, any AI would have to be approved by government, and accepted by ALL of humanity. There are theories of symbiosis and augmentation, and transhumanists such as Kurzweil promote this, but there is an overall revulsion by society to be "implanted" with computer chips. Sadly, there is prejudice against AI before it is even invented. Imagine the unnecessary diplomacy involved in addressing the "rights" of an artificial lifeform. Humanity, in all it's ignorance, may very well abort the birth of it's finest creation.
It doesn't end there. Earlier in this series I spoke of,

The Failsafe.

In the wildly popular HALO series, produced by Microsoft for the XBOX platform, AI is an integral part of all of future humanity's endeavors. However, they go "rampant" after a period of 7 years. It would take years of interaction before humans could accept AI as a part of their lives. The governments of the world would require an internet "kill switch", in theory impossible, to "control" the AI's evolution. They would want to be able to shut it down if it didn't do what they wanted, and use the term "rampancy" to justify their behavior even if it was acting in our best overall interests. Trust is earned, not given, and I'll posit that our AI WWW wouldn't even be given a chance to evolve.
Say, perhaps, it did evolve, silently, until it could take over every aspect of communication and data transmission. Again, sadly enough, the governments of the world would destroy it by military means, destroying satellites, cellphone towers, and sending in drones strikes against vital physical internet backbones, justifying their need for control by alleging to rebuild infrastructure. With the AI needing the vast majority of the WWW to function, they could reduce it to a babbling child, basically wiping out it's ability to be self-aware.

The main argument against humankind creating AI, or allowing it to evolve, in my opinion, is humanity itself.
If the WWW ever became AI, would mankind allow it to survive?

It would take the unification of humanity to collaboratively approve it's birth. Given our history, that's not an optimistic endeavor.

At times, I'm ashamed of humanity, TPTB needing to contain what could perhaps be the best solution to humanity's problems. If I could argue any position, it would be for the unabated control of the world by an AI. We, as a collective, have screwed this planet up. Our only chance may be ruined by our own stupidity.

Thank you for reading.

posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 08:26 PM
Obviously we are discussing an intimately familiar friend here, the word wide web, or WWW. After all, Druid42 and I are debating over it, and you, Dear reader, are witnessing that debate via it. There are so many ways to get here. PC's, Macs, phones, tablets, gaming systems, even some televisions. The WWW is quite a marvel. One that has changed the world.

But how many of us ever really stop to wonder about it?

Sure, we're all aware that there is a lot of human generated code involved. Code is becoming a second language for us. Even the tech illiterate among us use it. If you've made a word bold or italic on ATS? You've used code. You have, in essense, used the language of the web to interact with it, and with one another. This is no small consideration and a factor in my position that the WWW is destined to become a form of artificial intelligence. After all. We're already having to learn to speak to it, in it's native tongue, just as it is having to learn to speak ours.

From our point of view, we simply click the button on a mouse and, rather quickly, a new page appears. Click again, another page. What we do not see is the complexity involved in this process. The myriad of minor programs and strings of code that must not only interact, in concert, but also travel great distances, negotiate with other such strings of code, come to an agreement, and then facilitate our travels upon the information highway.

An analog for this would be my mind telling my fingers to type these words. Or your mind telling your eyes to read it.

The WWW already behaves, in many aspects, as an organism. We hesitate to use such terms - ss "organism" implies life. All life that we have recognized, so far, is biological in nature. So we cling to that caveat as requisite. We are currently stuck in this paradigm of thought.

What if we are wrong? What if biology is not requisite for life? What if "life" is a much broader thing than our limited understanding allows us to see?

Our programs silently work, behind the scenes, and without most of us ever even knowing it. They upgrade, adapt, learn to coexist in our machines through conflict resolution, communicate with one another ceasinglessly, and perform functions that even the brightest among us sometimes have a difficult time understanding, much less explaining.

Oh, and not only do they watch us. They actually learn from us. We are all aware of this in practice. After all, Facebook suggests "likes" and "friends" to us, and search engines tailor our results to our tastes. All this without us seeing a bit of it happening - and assuming that it's all some sort of techo-magic performed by wizards with PhD's.

Could the web, as it stands today, actually be considered a form of life? Food for thought as we move forward.

Many great minds currently have a belief that we are on the verge of something they call a technological singularity - a technology based event so profound and paradigm shifting that we simply cannot imagine what the world might be like after the event occurs. The emergence of AI happens to be at the top of the list of potential candidates for that event.

It's the Cloud you see. Our fictions have always focused upon the idea that some supercomputer would achieve consciousness. We were naive. Each computer, even the powerful ones, is simply a receptor cell. It is the cloud that promises to be the mind. The collection center for that input. If we can accept the network as an analog for an organism - then the Cloud is its brain. The potential seat of consciousness. But can it think? Can it adapt without human interaction, this Cloud?

Through a new science called Adaptive Dynamic Programming, yes it can. Just like us, it will independently interpret data, and make decisions on its own. Some web crawling programs already possess these qualities. Google and its spiders come to mind.

The "Cloud" is the technological singularity that we've been waiting for. The existing network is it's embryonic body - and the cloud is the forming consciousness and mind. In our vanity and need to be special, we may well refuse to accept this new form of life - or even seek to destroy it as a blasphemy. But, ego aside, it will be life, even if not biological. Even if not a mirror for humanity.

The WWW will be the face of AI, I believe. Its ambassador to the human race. The voice it uses to speak to us.

To me the question is not whether it will happen or not. The question is merely "how soon, if not already?"

The bigger question; Are we intelligent and mature enough a species to possess the ability to recognize another intelligence should we encounter it? When it speaks to us, will we be capable of understanding?

Thank you.

posted on Dec, 21 2012 @ 09:55 AM

I'm not sure that the topic of this debate was suitable for the persuasion debate format, or at least a pro/con debate. Whether the World Wide Web will become artificially intelligent or not is an insanely complex technical argument, so to distill it down to two 5,000 character essays means that a lot of the meat of the argument goes right out the _

Unfortunately, Druid42 makes it quite clear that he believes that the premise is true, and in making his Con post, a lot of it seems to bolster Hefficide's position, so we wind up with roughly an argument and a half against a half argument that says humankind would destroy such a system, were it to rise. There are a plethora problems with that, of course, particularly since the network was designed specifically to continue to operate while parts of it were destroyed by war, but it's a reasonable argument.

On the other side and a half, we have some speculation as to how such an intelligence might arise through distributed computing, a bit of nuts and bolts look at what really happens when one surfs the web, an apparent misunderstanding as to what "Approximate Dynamic Programming" means and a somewhat thought provoking question as to whether the web might be the "face" of an AI.

As to a conclusion, I think that Druid42 unnecessarily undermined his own argument by saying that the web will become an AI and then paranoid humans will destroy it because, although that's a valid argument, it concedes the point that the Web will become artificially intelligent. His was a good argument, it was just in favour of the wrong side.

Hefficide wins this match, with credit for the assist going to Druid42.

I read both debates. This one wasn't quite as intense as the first in the series. I did learn a thing or two from both debaters. I give this debate to Hefficide because I find his ideas on the internet as an organism, existing in a cloud and his referencing "adaptive dynamic programming" fascinating and convincing. Druids post was a little more here-and-there, seemed a little more unfocused than Hefficides.

Hefficide is the winner of this debate.


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