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I was on WBUR’s Open Source with Christopher Lydon – a show I regularly listened to when I lived in Somerville – last night discussing Max Tegmark’s new book, Life 3.0. Other guests were Erik Brynjolfsson and Yarden Katz. Here’s the episode: Intelligence By Design
Image: Maurizio Pesce
Have you heard? Someday we will live in a perfect society ruled by an omnipotent artificial intelligence, provably and utterly beneficial to mankind.
That is, if we don’t all die once the machines gain consciousness, take over, and kill us.
Wait, actually, they are going to take some of us with them, and we will transcend to another plane of existence. Or at least clones of us will. Or at least clones of us that are not being perpetually tortured for our current sins.
These are all outcomes that futurists of various stripes currently believe. A futurist is a person who spends a serious amount of time—either paid or unpaid—forming theories about society’s future.
My latest Bloomberg View column is out, in which I try to imagine an internet optimized for citizens rather than consumers: Facebook and Google, Show Us Your Ad Data For other columns, take a look here.
Researchers and politicians are trying to make "black boxes" more accountable.
Computer algorithms play an increasingly important role in running the world -- filtering news, assessing prospective employees, even deciding when to set prisoners free. All too often, though, their creators don’t make them adequately accountable to the people whose lives they affect.
It’s thus good to see some researchers and politicians starting to do something about it.
The Trump administration has taken on three ambitious statistical projects: tracking down cases of voter registration fraud, identifying racism in college admissions and developing an algorithm for “extreme vetting” of visa applications.
These would all be very tricky even for a trained professional. I doubt the president’s people are up to the task.
For all its absurdity, the debate over Obamacare has accomplished something positive: It has educated people that insurance is really about risk pooling -- as in you need both healthy and sick people to participate if it’s going to be affordable for the sick.
Some believe that universal government health coverage is the only way to guarantee such risk-sharing. They will be all the more right in the age of big data.