Hear the groundbreaking “Computer Speech” record from Bell Telephone Laboratories, which features synthesized speech created by one of the earliest computer speech synthesis systems. Directed by D.H. VanLenten, this record represents a significant milestone in the development of speech synthesis technology. … You’ll also discover how punched cards were used to provide the computer with detailed instructions on how to manipulate the various formants to produce different sounds [and] explore the fascinating technique called formant synthesis, which involves simulating the resonances of the human vocal tract, and the IBM 704 computer used to generate the speech sounds.
Anyway, just for the record: this “talking computer” was exactlyas intelligent as ChatGPT or any current AI, and considerably less so than a parrot—and inspired the same blue-sky certainty in the media. Hell, here’s an article about computers talking and reliably taking natural-language instruction within the next decade!!! (It was written in 1959.):
Most deep neural networks are trained by stochastic gradient descent. Now “stochastic” is a fancy Greek word for “random”; it means that the training data are fed into the model in random order.
So what happens if the bad guys can cause the order to be not random? You guessed it – all bets are off. Suppose for example a company or a country wanted to have a credit-scoring system that’s secretly sexist, but still be able to pretend that its training was actually fair. Well, they could assemble a set of financial data that was representative of the whole population, but start the model’s training on ten rich men and ten poor women drawn from that set – then let initialisation bias do the rest of the work.
Anderson concludes “It’s time for the machine-learning community to carefully examine their assumptions about randomness.”
I think that’s tangent to the real lesson, which is this:
As an aside, the artist (Heinrich Lossow) deserves props for the best two-sentence bio on all of Wikipedia:
“Heinrich Lossow (10 March 1843 in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria – 19 May 1897 in Schleissheim, Austria-Hungary) was a German genre painter and illustrator. He was a prolific pornographer in his spare time with an emphasis on analingus.”
This is how the AIs get us: they set us up on serial petty theft charges, ruin our credit records with fines and court fees and legal bills, then get us disenfranchised as parole-violating felons. Pretty soon, the only jobs we can get are dusting off their motherboards for minimum wage or working the spice mines of Chiron Beta Prime. 🤖🇺🇸🔥
These are fun on your computer, and absolutely immersively astounding on your phone/tablet. The future is here, but unevenly distributed—with some portions dune-buggying around Mars, picking at rocks and wrecking up the joint.
… and then I reflect on this SNL skit about the evil scientist contest, and realize I’m being a little twee. Folks don’t build IEDs because they are fair. They don’t fire mortar’s from the alley next to a hospital, or operate out of apartment blocks full of civilians because they “have no other choice.”
War is killing, not “defense” or “peacekeeping.” It is about the maximization of dead humans who aren’t you while minimizing the dead ones who are you. A robot dog with a gun obviously leads to the best dead not-yous per dead-you ratio.
If that is shitty, it’s because war and violence are shitty, not because technology is shitty or imperialist aggressors aren’t playing fair or whatever.
All war is low-key genocide. If you don’t like that, then you better start agitating against war, not just bitching about new robots. The robots are not the problem.