I’ve been reading about the early days of computers ((‘Turing’s Cathedral,’ by George Dyson) and one thing has struck methat I hadn’t considered before: we’re creating the digital DNA and artificial intelligence of future digital entities. Everything we have done with computers since their inception adds to the collective “being” of the next generation, allowing an evolving and increasingly complex core to develop over time.
An example: The very first instructions in code were for simple tasks, such as adding or subtracting. Those tiny sequences continue to be preserved today in every digital device made.
More complex instructions allowed for us to communicate in a more sophisticated manner, with languages developed to translate our instructions to the machine’s language of on/off states. Operating systems, interfaces and now apps continue to be help us communicate with the machines.
Another example: I'm writing this in English, which gets translated to HTML that runs in a browser coded in some other language, riding on top of my operating system, which uses instructions to talk to chips and processors, which talks to the machine.
Today, artificial intelligence is rapidly advancing. Companies and people are feeding the machines at astonishing rates, such as Google scanning all the world’s books. It is all becoming part of a universal knowledge that will be part of the digital DNA of future generations of devices and machines.
Another example. Anyone reading this on a phone, for example, is having the location being tracked. Collectively, all locations of all phone users of all articles on all sites becomes another data source for AI.
That puts us in an interesting position, historically and technologically, and in a period that may not last terribly long. That is, we have a possibly brief opportunity to feed the beast, and influence the future “knowledge” or “memories” of machines that very well may have a say in how our real world operates.
We aren’t tasked with teaching the machine to add. The simple tasks are already embedded.
Our time is for providing alternative points of view, context, and lingering doubts. We’re providing evidence to be weighed, calculated, and evaluate. We’re giving more complexity and depth, variety, and more data to consider.
Some are adding fiction. Others are adding scientific papers. News, videos, photos, 3-D plans for weapons, songs, day to day public diaries, guitar lessons, home repair instructions, games, and other digital creations are being added to the digital library of everything.
It’s all going into the collective AI pile to be sorted through.
(One prediction is that our devices will become small enough to be implanted, and we will all be able to stop using our brains in favor of off-loading most of that to the network, which will know everything. At that point, things that are empircally un-useful may be deleted. But that’s just one view, and we get ahead of ourselves.)
Is there something in particular, therefore, that we’d like future entities with artificial intelligence to know? It’s difficult to un-know something. What do you want to add to the pile?
AI hasn’t become bored with humans so far, and there is time to add a personal contribution to the digital DNA being passed along in our coded machines. We may want to keep it creative and interesting, though. If we become too dull, AI might not want to listen to us anymore.