This Buried Matter

2 years ago

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1. This is a formidable entry into what will be a burgeoning genre: explaining how AI quietly came to dominate [X] without many people really noticing.

"As of the previous weekend, Translate had been converted to an A.I.-based system for much of its traffic, not just in the United States but in Europe and Asia as well: The rollout included translations between English and Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish. The rest of Translate’s hundred-odd languages were to come, with the aim of eight per month, by the end of next year. The new incarnation, to the pleasant surprise of Google’s own engineers, had been completed in only nine months. The A.I. system had demonstrated overnight improvements roughly equal to the total gains the old one had accrued over its entire lifetime."

2.The IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Consideration in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems has released a working document on "ethically aligned design."

"In order to develop successful autonomous intelligent systems (AIS) that will benefit society, it is crucial for the technical community to understand and be able to embed relevant human norms or values into their systems. The Embedding Values into Autonomous Intelligence Systems Committee has taken on the broader objective of embedding values into AIS as a three-pronged approach by helping designers: 1. Identify the norms and values of a specific community affected by AIS; 2. Implement the norms and values of that community within AIS; and, 3. Evaluate the alignment and compatibility of those norms and values between the humans and AIS within that community."

3. Art bots as politicial protest.

"Thus, an art bot has a whiff of political protest in it. We live in a world where we are daily told that beauty doesn’t matter. This is reaffirmed by politicians, newsmakers, and those inhabiting Internet comment sections. So often, those people are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing–to quote a non-computerized artist. (Not to mention how their tales might be told by an idiot.) An art bot is indefatigable. It, and by extension its creator, will continue to attempt to create something beautiful every hour, every day, regardless of political sentiment or regime. It is admittedly a very small protest, and a rather passive one. For more active forms of political protest bots, please read this thoughtful essay by Mark Sample. And, unlike so many people in political conversation, my bots are actually willing to talk to each other."

4. The fascinating story of Soviet watchmaking.

"Shortly after the stock market crash of 1929, the Soviet Union purchased a bankrupt watch manufacturer in Ohio and moved the business halfway across the globe to Moscow, employees and all. The international maneuver wasn’t viewed as a competitive threat to American industry—after all, the company’s products were already outdated and the recently established Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) lacked any prior watchmaking culture. Yet within a couple of decades, the Soviets had transformed this single workshop into one of the world’s top watchmaking centers, second only to the venerable Swiss enterprise."

5. Plant root networks guided into shapes make for beautiful art.

"The work of German-born artist Diana Scherer explores what she calls 'the dynamics of belowground plant parts.' She uses plant roots themselves as a medium for creating patterns and networks, the purpose of which is to suggest overlaps between human technological activity and the embodied 'intelligence' of living botanical matter. 'This buried matter is still a wondrous land,' she writes. The results are incredible. They feature roots woven like carpets or textiles, imitating Gothic ornament with floral patterns and computational arabesques underground.

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This Buried Matter

5it by Alexis Madrigal
Fairview Park Oakland, CA 94618 USA
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