Smash the machines!?

If you have not seen C. G. P. Grey’s Humans need not apply yet, here it is:

While it does seem that robots and artificial intelligent software systems are becoming better than average humans at some tasks, for most employers they just need to be good enough as they offer several other advantages.

Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans

See this Slashdot post for more.


Bonus: Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligences

How long before AI bots get legal personhood rights? This article details a thought experiment about this.

Chimps of the world unite!

grapeMost chimps understand fairness and even solidarity better than many of us:

Chimpanzees in this study went beyond the basic tenets of the social contract and demonstrated what could be considered the foundation of social solidarity. In 95 trials, chimpanzees that received a grape were significantly more likely to refuse it when their group mate only received a carrot (p = 0.008). Even those who benefited from inequality recognized that the situation was unfair and they refused to enjoy their own reward if it meant someone else had to suffer.

Would you refuse the french fries if your cell mate got a low fat muffin?  Not sure I would.  Full article here.


Update: Judge Recognizes Research Chimps As “Legal Persons”

In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals. Full article here.

What I currently accept to be true (based on the available evidence)

Evidence

I dislike the word believe and loathe the word faith when it comes to matters of the spiritual/supernatural. I much prefer the phrase “What I currently accept to be true (based on the available evidence.)” Clunky but more accurate. Now some may say, “How can you have any hard/objective evidence for spiritual/supernatural phenomena?” [To be continued…]

There is no single “natural” way

I am reading Sapiens : a brief history of humankind (a fascinating book about the history of our species) and there is a quote I like:

The heated debates about Homo sapiens’ `natural way of life’ miss the main point. Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, there hasn’t been a singe natural way of life for Sapiens. There are only cultural choices, from among a bewildering palette of possibilities.

So just as there is no one “natural” (or “proper”) way to be an individual, there is no “natural” (or “proper”) way for a society to be. Some ways are of course better suited to some environments and both individuals and societies that don’t adapt to changing environments don’t survive.

For another great book with a similar theme, check out Our kind : who we are, where we came from, where we are going.