Artificial Intelligence on a Real Planet.

With all that I have written about recently, I think it’s important to point out that I’m not against artificial intelligence. I’m concerned about how it is used and managed, which I also believe we all should be, down to the last ditch digger.

Artificial intelligence on existing systems are pretty interesting, but there is an implicit limit because they are hard-wired to have only 2 choices at the lowest levels. Bayesian logic allows for 2 choice prediction that emulates appearing more complicated, but at the lowest levels it’s a bunch of on/off switches being run automatically.

What we also have to understand is that computers are inferior to humans in being human. We are not meat computers, they are silicon humans we’re making in our image as best we can with what we have.

What we have has changed from mud, sticks and incantations to dc electricity and semiconductors that operate on a complicated light switch mechanism, like 2 ships communicating at night on a dark sea. And we’re going further even as we write software for the old systems – the new COBOL, maybe, that will haunt us for decades, perhaps centuries, when the rest of the world has moved on to whatever comes next.

I was prompted on this by checking out a new subscriber’s website to one of my blogs (thanks!) which, while from November last year, reminds us of what positive stuff is being done with AI, and what we can improve.

Where computers have not failed is also interesting to note: They do not fail at communicating with each other because of common protocols we established globally. All the computers doing the communication on the Internet are doing it in ways that the others understand, or they’re not on the Internet.

Of course, we’re not the only ones communicating. Elephants, as an example, seem to have very complex communication that includes seismic communication. The African Savannah Elephants use infrasound to communicate with other elephants across long distances, without needing updates or special cables from Apple.

They’re intelligent too, with social structures – enough so that studying them gives us hints about our own evolution.

It seems wherever we look on Earth these days, we’re seeing that other species are exhibiting intelligence, from the octopus to the dolphin, from the whale to the crow. It’s unlikely that they suddenly became intelligent. It’s more likely that they’ve been intelligent all along and we’ve not been intelligent enough to figure it out.

As a species, it’s questionable if we are that intelligent, but we have enough intelligent ones in the herd finding things.

So what role does artificial intelligence have in this context? It’s beginning to be used to communicate with other species on the planet.

“…In the bat chapter where I discuss the research of Yossi Yovel of Tel Aviv University, there’s a particular study in which his team monitored [nearly two] dozen Egyptian fruit bats for two and a half months and recorded their vocalizations. They then adapted a voice-recognition program to analyze [15,000 of] the sounds, and the algorithm correlated specific sounds with specific social interactions captured via videos—such as when two bats fought over food. Using this, the researchers were able to classify the majority of bats’ sounds. That is how Yovel and other researchers such as Gerry Carter of the Ohio State University have been able to determine that bats have much more complex language than we previously understood. Bats argue over food; they distinguish between genders when they communicate with one another; they have individual names, or “signature calls.” Mother bats speak to their babies in an equivalent of “motherese.” But whereas human mothers raise the pitch of their voices when talking to babies, mother bats lower the pitch—which elicits a babble response in the babies that learn to “speak” specific words or referential signals as they grow up. So bats engage in vocal learning…”

How Scientists Are Using AI to Talk to Animals“, Scientific American, Sophie Bushwick, February 7, 2023

Bats. This isn’t science fiction, this is science.

This sort of use of technology could well be what helps our species more than creating more lawyers or billionaires wanting to go to space, or to live on Mars, or launch cars into space.

Maybe this technology could help us make sense of our own planet, for ourselves, even before we consider colonizing other planets. It’s pretty clear we are only beginning to understand other intelligences on our own planet.


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