[ExI] loss of internet, was: AI risks

spike spike66 at att.net
Tue Sep 8 02:04:35 UTC 2015



From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Mike Dougherty

>…In this regard I feel more threatened by intermittent power outages and the loss of Internet than murderous AI…


OK but don’t just type off on something else, Mike, focus on that question please, for this is a really important and growing risk (loss of internet, not AI.)

I am older than you (I think) for I remember how things worked before the internet and before computers did most of the work.  (Ponder that for a minute: most work is now automated.  Really.  Think about it.)  The perspective I offer is that I know we cannot do many of the tasks now done by machine.  We no longer have the collective intellectual skill sets.  Even if we theorize we could gain them again, we don’t currently have them, so we cannot run our world without advanced algorithms in our lives.

Example: in my college days (tragically many years ago) our linear algebra professor had the 35 of us do a determinate of a 6x6, with the requirement that no one work together.  The next day, he made a graph and had us call out our answer.  We found that we had 35 different answers.  And all of them were wrong.  They didn’t even cluster around the right answer as far as we could tell.  Not one student, sophomore level engineering majors, managed to do 720 multiplies and 360 addition/subtractions without an error, not one.

The next assignment was to write a FORTRAN program to calculate a determinate.  Then we repeated the experiment.  Nearly all of us had the right answer the next time.

We routinely do higher order matrix operations to do ordinary control tasks today, and we aren’t even aware they are happening.  Money flow operations use them, satellite control systems use the hell out of them, inventory control uses matrix operations.  We can’t run without our electronics, never mind electric power.

All this has me thinking: we might be able to kinda limp by for a while without electric power, if we could somehow keep our computers, internet and communications running.  It wouldn’t be comfortable, without lights and HVAC, but if we could keep computers and phones going, we at least have a fighting chance.

Stay with me for one more thought, por favor.  One of the ideas for dramatically improving transportation fuel economy of our Detroits is to make them series hybrids, where a small onboard Diesel generates power and drives electric motors on the wheels without a mechanical link between Diesel and axles.  Series hybrids have lousy acceleration, but they are very efficient.  If anything like that ever catches on, we could run the cars in the driveway or parking lots to generate enough power to charge lithium batteries and run those critical DC-able devices.  So we could kinda theoretically run our phones, internet and computers, and possibly our lights (assuming LED) but not our HVAC.  If we had enough of these series hybrids, that might kinda work at least temporarily, ja?  Life would go on, we would have the means of fixing whatever took down the power grid.






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