The internets were all a-flutter recently, with the news that The Turing Test had been beaten/broken/won…
… which is to say, 33% of a panel of judges thought a computer was a human… a 13 year old boy (not really a proper human then) in this case. Everyone’s written something about this recently. Everyone’s got theories and opinions etc. Well… not everyone, but at least 33% of people have opinions.
And I have mine.
That article above is from The Guardian.
33% of people are fooled into thinking The Guardian is a proper newspaper, and not just a kind of multi-cellular machine/human hybrid executing algorithms on behalf of the establishment, fine-tuned for people who are :
a) educated and
b) kindof broke but
c) not yet disqualified from the hope of owning a house.
People are fooled. Genuinely fooled… or maybe they just don’t care. Maybe they know it’s fake, but it’s an easier set of fictions to go along with than outright despair or violence.
Turing Test Variant #1.
They key metric, is not how many people are “fooled”, but how many people simply don’t care.
It’s a program… I know it’s a program, and I don’t care because it makes me feel like a person, instead of… just being a program myself
We already wave at machines. We already listen to machines, we already talk to machines.
We already turn people into machines. That’s what capitalism does: compartmentalise labour so as to make the transition to “a proper machine” invisible… and really, we don’t care that much. There is a point at which nobody cares whether a job is done by a human or a machine. That is the realpolitik Turing Test isn’t it? It’s not a test of “personality” (that’s just entertainment) it’s a test of economic worth. If your job can be done by a machine the size of a toaster or a packet of fags, welcome to the future – you’ve just been out-turinged.
We are already so merged with machines, that comparisons to do with “personality” seem facile and patronising. We’re already assimilated.
and are we happy? No we fucking aren’t.
But like, out of the darkness.
As someone, somewhere else said… “before the big-bang… 14 billion years ago, it was all darkness. Now there’s like a trillion trillion stars. I’d say that light is winning”
Big bang. 14 billion years ago. Big number, but not that big.
– 10 billion years pass… The Sun
– 1 billion years later… life
– 2.5 billion years later… multicells
– 1/2 billion – tiny proto-animals
– 1/2 billion – humanoids
modern humans 200k ago?
art 100k ago?
writing 5k ago?
and so on… maybe it’s unfair to compare the shift from single, to-multi-cellular life to the shift from clay to paper… but it is not unfair to compare it to the time from “powered flight to getting a man on the moon”, which was 66 years. Getting to the moon is an event of multi-billion year significance, and it happened (by geophysical standards) “at essentially the same time” that the first caveman learned to paint on a wall. The two events were that close. The Cambrian Explosion took place over 80 million years – a relatively short period of time (hence the ‘explosion’ bit).
From art to moon-landing? .001 as long
From writing to moon-landing? 0.00006 as long
Ages of humanity should not be measured in “different types of fighting sticks” (stone, bronze, iron), but should be measured in “tools used to abstract information”. That’s what it’s about. DNA. Memetics. It’s all about information – the fighting part is just a selective mechanism. Great for drama, bad for thematic tectonics.
It’s about information. Eve was not the first human, she was the first artist.
So what do we want?
I think we want to be gods – and what that means, is to be able to create computer-game worlds, indistinguishable from reality. Or close enough that we don’t care. Like Minecraft, but photographic-real… full sensory. Full universe simulation.
I seem to recall somewhere from some dusty tome concerned with Western-Path magic, that achievement of unity with the godhead, meant passing through a realm such as this – where imagination could create realities realer than reality itself… but most people nose-dived out of this plane, in search of sex or euphoria or lost love or whatever.
I think this might be something that people shoot for on drugs… and it’s certainly what people are looking for when they buy lucid-dreaming aids (which periodically show up on kickstarter… wanted $35k, got $572k).
There are other techs all pushing in this direction – the occulus rift flotilla, Google glass, immersive entertainment. We want to create worlds, and we’re getting better at it.
Turing Test Variant #2 – The Ultimate Turing Test.
The ultimate Turing Test is not “a machine that can trick humans into thinking it’s human”, it’s “a machine that reproduces reality so accurately that people decide to live in it“.
The fundamental mathematical driver behind quantum isn’t exponential (like Moore’s law), it’s factorial. What this means is that if you can fit the same number of qbits onto a chip as we currently do transistors, you’ve got A LOT of simultaneous calculations. There are about 1×10^24 stars in the universe. There are about 1×10^38 IPv6 addresses. That’s big. How long would it take to write down 38 zeroes? Almost a minute.
If you tried to make a decimal representation of the number of simultaneous calculations of a quantum device scaled to a modern chip, you’d get a number with about 50km of zeros. That’s not the “amount”, that’s the decimal representation of the amount. Every 4cm you multiply the previous number by a trillion.
It is so much bigger than all of the atoms in the entire universe, it’s basically infinite. But it’s all calculation, no memory… so if you wanted to simulate a universe, you’d have to generate it on the fly – with time happening in slices… just like it does in actual reality.
So I think the ultimate goal of this “thing” we’re caught up in (this fall into history), is to recreate the big bang as simulations… create parallel universes not as differing simultaneous mirrors of “us now”, but as fractal-like sub-verses, grown from scratch – and then we upload ourselves into them. This is the ultimate AI, not some ultra-smart intelligence, but an entire universe.
I think that this will happen in software rather than hardware, so our landfills will not fill up with tiny universes, but we’ll move our AUs from platform to platform as the hardware changes. Each person will be the custodian of their own Artificial Universe. Like moving your music collection about, but better than that, because you can actually climb inside the thing. And sleep. We’ll become cloud-based.
Maybe they will network with each other. Maybe “sharing universes” is the only way of staying sane. Maybe some people will chose to share universes with creations within their own universe, who have been given free-will… and the ability to create universes of their own. Universe Simulation is a fractal… and given a certain type of infinity, it’s a mathematical certainty.
So I think that’s the ultimate Turing Test – what Iain Banks referred to as Sublimation. The decision to abandon corporeality, and to go into the matrix.
And somewhere in that, we’ll realise that don’t want to be god, we just want to feel like god, so we’ll take just as many drugs as we always did, or I will at least. Stoned, immaculate, man… out here on the perimeter… with heads full of stars.