Can AI simulations predict the future?
Move over deepfakes. Multi-agent artificial intelligence is poised to manipulate your mind.
- While multi-agent artificial intelligence was first used in the sixties, advances in technology have made it extremely sophisticated.
- Everything from online trading to disaster response training can be accomplished with MAAI.
- The dark side of MAAI is the potential manipulation of voters and other insidious applications.
The recent U.S. backflip on Syria has certainly not helped the nation's residents. Before the Syrian Civil War in 2017, the estimated population was 22 million; today it is roughly five million fewer, with another six million "internally displaced." With Turkey launching an invasion, we can expect more Syrian citizens to become refugees.
Beyond the occasional news feature inside of refugee camps, you hear very little about where Syrians end up, save when far right leaders demand it not be in their backyard. How can you tell if they will successfully integrate into the foreign populations they must seek aid from?
This question needs to be asked without knee-jerk reactions from either side of the partisan aisle. It appears that an emerging application of AI might help us in this quest.
Multi-agent artificial intelligence (MAAI) is predictive modeling at its most advanced. It has been used for years to create digital societies that mimic real ones with stunningly accurate results. In an age of big data, there exists more information about our habits — political, social, fiscal — than ever before. As we feed them information on a daily basis, their ability to predict the future is getting better.
Multi-Agent Hide and Seek
Multi-agent systems have been used to predict online trading behaviors, disaster response protocols, and social structure modeling. They can help us understand dimensionality, discreteness, determinism, and episodicity. To return to Syrian refugees, such models allow us to ask the following questions:
- Are the spatial characteristics of host nations relevant to refugees?
- Can we accurately predict the number of potential outcomes of integration?
- Will integration lead to social turmoil or harmony?
- How will refugee integration in 2019 affect the nation in 2029?
Syria is not the only model that can be constructed using MAAI. An even more contentious example is voting. While there has been a lot of talk about the potential role of deepfakes in the 2020 election in America — even though, currently, most videos are used to pornographically degrade women — MAAI might play an even bigger role.
As New Scientist reports, constructing an artificial society to better understand voting patterns offers political campaigns essential, and really, never before available, data on constituents. Four key advances — computing power, data, scientific understanding of human behavior, and AI — offers political teams a new way of understanding voters.
Personel of National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) rescue victims during a simulation of Vehicle Accident Rescue (VAR) Management in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia on September 11, 2019
Photo by WF SIhardian/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The debate over free will is ancient, yet data don't lie — and we have been giving tech companies access to our deepest secrets, as I wrote about human sexuality from Google and Pornhub data last week. We like to believe we're not predictable, but that's simply not true. It just took more sophisticated technologies to pinpoint our patterns. As F. LeRon Schults of the Center for Modeling Social Systems in Norway notes:
"One of the things that has changed is an acceptance that you really can model humans. Our agents are cognitively complex. They are simulated people with genders, ages and personalities. They can get married, have children, get divorced. They can get a job or get fired, they can join groups, they can die. They can have religious beliefs. They're social in the way humans are. They interact with each other in social networks. They learn from each other, react to each other and to the environment as a whole."
Tamagotchi this is not.
As New Scientist states, and as the history of any emergent technology proves, how we use MAAI depends on what we're looking for. There is evidence that such modeling might have prevented over a million people from falling victim to Ebola in 2014. Perhaps researchers can accurately predict where Syrian refugees would thrive and where they might not. Apparently, and sadly, owning a restaurant in Toronto is not a good decision.
Given the current political climate around the planet, however, MAAI will most certainly be put to insidious means. With in-depth knowledge comes plenty of opportunities for exploitation and manipulation, no deepfake required. The intelligence might be artificial, but the target audience most certainly is not.
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.
Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.
New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.
Quantum Mechanics, Onions, and a Theory of Everything<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="036ae7b8dd661df2d125a3421a0299ba"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bcVruA0AJ-o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."
Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.