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Why Elon Musk thinks human-A.I. symbiosis can thwart “evil dictator A.I.”

"We don't have to worry about some evil dictator A.I. because we are the A.I. collectively. That seems like the best outcome I can think of," says Elon Musk.

Merging minds and machines? Elon Musk thinks its critical. (Photo: Shutterstock/Big Think)

Last Sunday, a particularly unusual DotA 2 tournament took place. DotA, a complicated, real-time strategy game, is among the most popular e-sports in the world. The five players of one team—Blitz, Cap, Fogged, Merlini, and MoonMeander—were ranked in the 99.95th percentile, inarguably among the best DotA 2 players in the world. However, their opponent still defeated them in two out three games, winning the tournament. An evenly matched game is supposed to take 45 minutes, but these two were over in 14 and 21 minutes, respectively.

Their opponent was a team of five neural networks developed by Elon Musk's OpenAI, collectively referred to as OpenAI Five. Prior to Sunday's tournament, the neural network played 180 years' worth of DotA matches against itself every day, edging incrementally closer to mastery over the game. The reason why its creators chose DotA as OpenAI Five's focus was to mimic the incredibly variable and complex nature of the real world; DotA is a complicated game, and if an A.I. is going to be able to process and interact with the world rather than, say, learn to plot a GPS course or play chess, open-ended video games are a good place to start.

While this is an impressive technical achievement on its own, Musk's victory tweet highlighted that this was just a stepping stone toward the future of A.I.

Great work by @OpenAI. Need the neural interface soon to enable human/AI symbiosis.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2018

However, there are other concerns directly tied to the particular approach Musk is taking here. The Morningside Group, an organization composed of neuroscientists, neurotechnologists, ethicists, and machine-intelligence engineers, describes several ethical concerns regarding the intimate connection of the human mind with a cloud-based A.I. First is privacy and consent. Consider all of the allegations surrounding Facebook's collection of data. Even if a future human/A.I. symbiote is open source and decentralized, whose personal data will be subsumed into the cloud? How will and how can one keep control over personal data in this scenario?

Agency and identity is another problematic issue. That isn't to say that others hooked up to the cloud might learn your identity; you might lose your sense of self entirely. If everyone can interface with a cloud-based intelligence, an individual's intelligence might cease to mean anything.

There is also the question of how this augmentation will be used in society. Of particular concern is the idea that A.I.-enhanced human beings could be used in warfare, and a new augmentation arms race could begin.

What's more, the biases inherent to our society tend to be adopted in the technologies we create. Google shows lower-paying job ads to women, and algorithms used by U.S. law enforcement overwhelmingly predict that black offenders will re-offend compared to white offenders accused of the same crime. It's possible that an A.I. would be able to objectively sidestep these biases, but that shouldn't be assumed to be the case.

The trouble with all of this is that there is simply no objective way to know how A.I. will impact our society. It's a shift that will be too radical for us to comprehend. At the same time, these changes will happen, and we must make preparations. Through OpenAI and Neuralink, Musk appears to be doing so by determining the course of A.I. development from its inception.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Surprising Science
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by climate change, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.
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Creativity: The science behind the madness

Human brains evolved for creativity. We just have to learn how to access it.

Creativity: The science behind the madness | Rainn Wilson, David Eagleman, Scott ...
Videos
  • An all-star cast of Big Thinkers—actors Rainn Wilson and Ethan Hawke; composer Anthony Brandt; neuroscientists David Eagleman, Wendy Suzuki, and Beau Lotto; and psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—share how they define creativity and explain how our brains uniquely evolved for the phenomenon.
  • According to Eagleman, during evolution there was an increase in space between our brain's input and output that allows information more time to percolate. We also grew a larger prefrontal cortex which "allows us to simulate what ifs, to separate ourselves from our location in space and time and think about possibilities."
  • Scott Barry Kaufman details 3 brain networks involved in creative thinking, and Wendy Suzuki busts the famous left-brain, right-brain myth.

Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
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Politics & Current Affairs

How #Unity2020 plans to end the two-party system, bring back Andrew Yang

The proposal calls for the American public to draft two candidates to lead the executive branch: one from the center-left, the other from the center-right.

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