Underlinings (#49)

Rohit Gupta on the world-historic confluence into AlphaGo:

Dutch computer scientist John Tromp noted that comparing Go to chess is “not even like comparing the size of the universe with the nucleus of an atom”. As the game progresses, the smallest error made in this dynamic universe of Yin and Yang can magnify surreptitiously into an irreversible cataclysm. A butterfly flutters its wings, slaves mutiny on a ship, corporations go bankrupt, the Soviet Union breaks apart, a black asteroid strikes the earth and dinosaurs go extinct. […] Artificial intelligence too, like this ancient boardgame, goes back to the very dawn of human civilisation. A Roman tutorial on rhetoric for orators called Ad Herennium (86-82 BC) says this about memorisation technique, “…and now we will speak of the artificial memory.” Many Greeks, including Socrates, were against the invention of the written word, because they feared it would destroy the ability of human beings to remember. Millennia later, the rise of computers has released the art of memory like a gigantic djinn from Aladdin’s lamp, just as telescopes opened up the horizons of astronomy. …

Underlinings (#47)

Bakker (in fictional mode):

“… is the experience of freedom the same as having freedom?”

“They are one and the same.”

“But then why … why did you have to be blinded to experience freedom?”

“Because you cannot experience the sources of your actions and decisions and still experience human freedom. Neglect is what makes the feeling possible. To be human is to be incapable of seeing your causal continuity with nature, to think you are something more than a machine.”

He looked at her with his trademark skeptical scowl. “So what was so wrong with the other DIMEs, then? Why did they have to be destroyed … if they were actually more than humans, I mean? Were the people just scared or something? Embarrassed?”

“There was that, sure. Do you remember how the angry crowds always made you cry? Trust me, you were our little nuke, public relations-wise! But your father thinks the problem was actually bigger. The tools humans have evolved allow them to neglect tremendous amounts of information. Unfortunately for DIMEs, those tools are only reliable in the absence of that information, the very kinds of information they possessed. If a DIME were to kill someone, say, then in court they could provide a log of all the events that inexorably led to the murder. They could always prove there was no way ‘they could have done otherwise’ more decisively than any human defendant could hope to. They only need to be repaired, while the human does hard time. Think about it. Why lock them up, when it is really is the case that they only need be repaired? The tools you use—the tools your father gave me—simply break down.”

If the example she had given had confused him, the moral seemed plain as day at least.

“Sooo… you’re saying DIMEs weren’t stupid enough to be persons?”

Sour grin. “Pretty much.”