Hoot Hoot Hoot: A Xoogler Pushes the Help Button

May 20, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

The Daily Express US (?) published a remarkable story: “Former Google VP Issues Horror AI Warning As Technology Set to Leave Millions Jobless.” That’s a catchy assertion. Who is the Xoogler (that’s a former Googler for those who don’t know) that is mashing the Redder Alert siren? It is Geoffrey Hinton, who is a Big Wheel in the Land of AI.


Like a teacher with an out-of-control class, help is needed. Unfortunately pressing the big red button is performative. It is too late to get the class under control. Does AI behave like these kids? Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough.

He believes that some entity has to provide a universal basic income to those people who are unable to find work because AI ate their jobs. The acronym UBI in the vernacular of a dinobaby means welfare. But those younger than I will interpret the UBI idea as something that “they” must provide.

The write up quotes the computer and AI wizard as opining:

"If you pay everybody a universal basic income, that solves the problem of them starving and not being able to pay the rent but that doesn’t solve the self-respect problem."

I like the reference to self-respect. I have not encountered too many examples in the last day or so. I have choked off the flood of “information” about the assorted trials of a former elected official, the hooligan trashing of Macy stores, and the arrest and un-arrest of a certain celebrity golfer. That’s enough of the self-respect thing for me.

The write up continues:

He added: "I am very worried about AI taking over lots of mundane jobs. That should be a good thing. It’s going to lead to a big increase in productivity, which leads to a big increase in wealth, and if that wealth was equally distributed that would be great, but it’s not going to be. "In the systems we live in, that wealth is going to go to the rich and not to the people whose jobs get lost, and that’s going to be very bad for society, I believe. It’s going to increase the gap between rich and poor, which increases the chances of right-wing populists getting elected."

Okay, that’s an interesting moment of insight from one of the people who assisted in the creation of this sprint to societal change.

I find it interesting that technology marches forward in a way that prevents smart people from peering down the road from a vantage point defined by their computer monitor and lab partners. The bird’s-eye view of a technology like AI is of interest only when the individual steps away from a Google-type outfit.

AI can hallucinate. I think it is clear that the wizards “inventing” smart software also hallucinate within their digital constructs.

What happens when the hallucinogenic wears off? For Dr. Hinton it is time to call for help. I assume the UBI help will arrive from “the government.” Will “the government” listen, get organized, and take action. Dr. Hinton, like some smart software, might be experiencing what some of his AI colleagues call hallucinating. Am I surprised? Nope. Wizards are quirky.

Stephen E Arnold, May 20, 2024


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