Sunday, March 22, 2015

How to Survive the Pending AI Apocolypse

"Success in creating A.I. would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks." -Stephen Hawking

According to some of the best minds of today, we're doomed. A.I., or artificial intelligence, will someday overtake humans and wipe us out. Pretty sure we all saw that movie, right? Right.

From Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk, and many other super smart people, the current thinking in the thinking business is that we're proper fucked when it comes to thinking computers.

We all know how it works. Humans invent a machine that becomes sentient and can improve itself. Machine begins thinking for itself and innovates so much faster than any human that it no longer needs humans. Humans either a) become enslaved, b) get wiped out for being unnecessary, or c) get sent back in time to stop killer A.I. robots that look like ex-body builder, ex-California governors.

How do we avoid becoming meat toys for some super brain computer?


Method One: Don't build it. This is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. It just requires a hardcore government and societal crackdown on AI research. See also, embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.

That wouldn't be any fun at all, though. While embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary (we can most likely get the same results with regular stem cells), and human cloning is a wee bit creepy (except in twisted sex fantasies, of course), AI is freaking cool. It opens up an assload of possibilities and human potential.

Method Two: Just stay ahead of the computer. We continue to augment human potential using the very machines all these very smart people are afraid of. If a person, augmented by machines, is just as capable as the machine by itself then we're on even ground. I'll take those odds.

"I think there's things that are potentially dangerous out there. ...There's been movies about this, like 'Terminator. There's some scary outcomes and we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad." -Elon Musk

Ultimately, being able to transfer human consciousness into a computer will take care of the problem of rogue AI completely. Unleash the full potential of humanity, operating at the speed of thought, instantly, all at once.

AI is cool, but it's a sideshow. The interesting thinking actually arises out of contemplating option two. As a proponent, I don't really see the problem as technological in nature. We can certainly do much more with the tech we have to enhance and augment the human body and brain.

I don't have any particular moral issues with the concept. No more than, say, using a hammer instead of my forehead to drive a nail versus using a hammer to drive a nail into someone else's forehead. The morality is pretty clear cut.

You can argue there's a bit of a spiritual issue here. If, that is, you assume the body is required for the spirit. I don't. Hook me up!

“ … the fact is, our “smartest” AI is about as intelligent as a toddler—and only when it comes to instrumental tasks like information recall. Most roboticists are still trying to get a robot hand to pick up a ball or run around without falling over, not putting the finishing touches on Skynet." -Yann LeCunn, Facebook AI Labs

Luckily, all those smart minds are thinking about it. It's important not to just read the headlines. In every case, from Hawking to Musk, they qualify statements of caution with a rosier out look on the whole thing. AI is a tool. Good or bad, we choose.

Don't get me wrong. We're not ready to be completely computerized, yet. Not by a long shot. Can you imagine Facebook when everyone can post every thought instantly? The horror. But as long as we stay ahead of the machine, we'll be good.

No worries.

Easy enough.

Sort of.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Moving Day

Starting a new real job is rough. I say real job like my writing efforts are imaginary. Hey, I make money doing this shit. Seriously. Granted it doesn't pay the bills, but it's enough to "super-size" on romantic dinner night. Right? Right.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, a real job. Beside writing, it's hands down the best damn job I've ever had. We're talking dream job here. Not exaggerating. The kind of job most people would cream themselves to get. Starting fresh, though, takes a toll.

"But it's a good tired!"

It is, indeed.

Cuts into the writing time a bit, though. So, that sucks. In a, probably futile, effort to streamline everything, get my shit together, and enjoy both jobs, I figured it was time to consolidate.

Henceforth and forthwith I'm going to combine all my blogs into this one.

The Pepper's Papers is about... well... life. Every odd, wonderful, amazing, fucked up, twisted, cool, wicked, painful, joyous bit of it. Philosophy and spirituality all rolled up into one. I love the name, but it's gotta go.

Vape Right I'd love to keep going, but writing the books has to take priority. So, vaping stuff is moving here, too.

Both of the other blogs will stay put, as is, indefinitely. New stuff will get spewed forth here on Strange Moves. According to prophesy, that'll let me post more blog entries on whatever topic happens to invade my addled brain. Won't that be fun?

My new real job is in the technology sector, so technology entries will be partied down, alas. At least opinion stuff. I'm a royal Geek, but have to avoid the old Conflict o' Interest. Right? Right.

Anyway.... moving day. One stop shop of complete randomness.

Welcome back to Strange Moves.

Angel's Luck & Electric Dreams,


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Over and Over and Over

I am an app-a-holic.

In particular, I have this compulsive need to download every photo editing app available in the Play Store. We'll have to burrow into my brain and dig around under that rock some other time. Point is, I like me some photo apps.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of them suck. Bad.

So when I read about a "hot new" app called Over being ported to Android from iOS I was skeptical. All it does is overlay text and clipart images onto your photos. Woop-dee-shit.

Sometimes, though, how you do something is more impressive than what.

Radial menu in over slides out.
You can certainly do what Over does with just about any other image editing app on Android. There's no scribble mode, or fancy hipster filters, or even basic photo editing. You can crop for Instagram. You can add text and clip art to your image. That's about it. Over just does it with style and the results look fantastic.

The interface is slick. When you open an image in Over it offers only two choices: Add Text and Add Artwork. After you select one of those two options and do your thing, there's a radial menu that slides out from the right when needed. It has eight simple options: Photos, New, Share,More, Save, Font, Edit, and Add.

That's it.

The interface is what makes Over better than using a full featured image editor. Type text then drag it where you want. Pinch to make it bigger or smaller. Pop out the Edit button if you need to fine tune it or adjust the font or art. Done.

It's one of those 'I guess you had to be there' apps. You need to experience Over to get it.

A few things in Over aren't quite there yet. The help system is practically non-existent. There's a few web based help articles available for the iOS version baked into the More menu option. A simple help overlay explaining the gesture controls would be a welcome edition, ala Snapseed.

Font selection slides out from left.
The artwork and text fonts available are beautifully done and unique. The exclusivity of some of these is a big draw of the program and they are reasonably priced from $0.99 for one set of art or fonts to $9.99 for full packages.

A wider selection, though, would be nice, particularly different themed packages. This where Over has the potential to shine. By offering exclusive and professionally done art and font packages, the app distinguishes itself from the do everything style apps.

This is not one of those stores where you'll drop $3.99 and get a dogpile of art and fonts, most of them complete shite that you'll never use. It is, and should be, a thoughtful process where you only purchase what you need, or more importantly, what represents your particularly style. As long as the quality is there, Over will do very well with this model.

The controls are all visual. That's fine and Over certainly does a great job of making sure elements move smoothly around the screen. However, I'd like an indication of what degree a particular effect or adjustment was applied. Tell me how much opacity I applied to that element so that I can do exactly the same to this element.

Simple element editing and fine tuning.
For example, in the sample image, when set the opacity for the word "Gonna", I can't tell if the words "You Up" are set exactly the same opacity. There's no percentage or numeric value displayed. I have to rely on my shitty eyesight and judgement.

A way to group elements and set color, opacity, size, rotation, and such at the same time for all would be nice. A "snap to element and/or grid" option would be handy, as well. As is, you have to do each individually and eyeball it.

In these sample images, I enhanced and filtered the original picture in Snapseed. I then used Over to do the text. You can see that, even with my crappy hand eye coordination, I was able to get a pretty decent amount of accuracy for the text placement.

The whole process took a few seconds. Very sweet.

Over only does one thing.

It just does it beautifully.

I'd love one photo app that does everything perfectly. Until then, separate apps that do one thing perfectly will do. For text and clipart, Over is the one.

Before Over. Image filtered and enhanced in Snapseed. Cat is Shadix.*

After Over. Text overlayed and styled in seconds. 


*Shadix just got his 5 pound ass handed to him by a 20 pound Ragnar the Magnificent. Lesson: Don't pounce on Viking cat's tail when he's asleep, else much pillaging of tiny kitty shall ensue.

Your misguided thoughts, irreverent feedback, asinine commentary, and general inappropriate behavior are always welcome. Please comment below