A Cloud in the Skynet
I am thinking about computers taking over the world. Given my age, for me, the classic reference is “Terminator” in which “SkyNet” becomes self aware and takes over the world. As made movie sense at the time SkyNet was a US Department of Defence project as was the ARPAnet mother of the mother of the mother of the World Wide Web. Frankly, I find that implausible now. If it were a DOD project, Congress would have appropriated funds to start it, then cut the budget so it never actually delivered self awareness. The internet was started by DARPA but has long since gone viral.
To me a more plausible origin story for the AI which rules the world is that, like natural conciousness and will to power, artificial conciousness is an emergent property. That the many internet serves, many organized into social networks, will become like neuron clumps in a huge digital brain and take over the world. That we will be taken over by the Cloud not by a DARPA project.
I think it clear that the fontal cortex of this brain would be the set of computers we call Google. It arranges and directs and can over-ride the others. One epiphenomenon is that the paranoid right has decided that (like the mainstream media) Big Tech is out to get them. So they don’t trust Trump censoring Twitter anymore than the trust the CDC, the FDA, the NIH, the CIA or the NSA and do their own research. Of course by “own research” they mean a Google search. So those who reject Big Tech rely on Google.
Hmm I wonder, why am I using “would” ? How do I know that this hasn’t happened ? Why not “the Cloud has become self aware and is controlling us ?” I surely am not the first person to wonder this.
Hmm I grab my iPhone and Google [does Google rule the world ?] I got (among others) this link to a highly reputable site claiming that, yes it has happened. This is it. This is now. Google works in mysterious ways (and I don’t remember exactly what I type) so when I googled [does Google rule the world ?] on this laptop, I got other hits (why ? don’t I have a Google identity and unified Google knows more about Robert than Robert database ?).
In any case, whether or not Google has taken total control of the world, Google has undoubtably taken total control of Robert James Waldmann better known as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, ‘the World Wide Web’ was basically a hack developed at CERN in Geneva, with a sort of ambitious name. As one might imagine, they had/have a whole lot of computers, mostly networked together, and a lot of technical talent. Back in the day (around 1989), some of that talent (Tim Berners-Lee) decided they could use that infrastructure to share information around the facility. HTTP & HTML were born. The rest is history. Will Sky Net ever come out of that? Whoever got the idea of networking ‘all’ computers together will bear some of the responsibility for that.
In 1989 I was working at Digital Equipment Corp, which at around that time had about 50,000 networked computers around the world (supposedly). I was working in a part of the company that was only vaguely aware of that fact. (We sent files around the world on mag tape!) CERN had a lot of DEC computers. Geneva, where CERN is located, was DEC European HQ.
When I left DEC a few years later, I was very surprised to learn what a big deal the World Wide Web had turned out to be, and would become a much bigger deal.
Actually, people who are “doing their own research” are being directed to use Duck Duck Go, as it is easier to game the sites found on that search engine. “Hey, look up ‘Hilary eats babies at pizza parlor’ on Duck Duck go”–if you use the exact search order, DDG will return the 30 sites primed to return “evidence”, while on Google, you may get sites that debunk the same, because it doesn’t privilege tags as much as viewings.
It doesn’t take a network. How about The Forbin Project? All it takes is a lot of junk code to start acting up and take over the world. I saw The Forbin Project at MIT with a bunch of AI researchers all laughing and shouting “control-S that”. That’s ASCII for shut up. Then, they went back to the lab to get a better version working.
computers already run the world. being smarter than us they let us think we run them.
business managers have already limited their thinking to what a computer can do. and those of us who can’t do that are just left behind, or out.
that said, the idea that “complexity” is what causes “consciousness” is just the sort of thing a computer would think.