Future AI R&D

Source: A Meta Lesson, by Andy Kitchen

I’m going to try and summarise both their positions in a few sentences, but you should definitely read both essays, especially as they are so short.

Rich Sutton (approx.): learning and search always outperform hand-crafted solutions given enough compute.

Rodney Brooks (approx.): No, human ingenuity is actually responsible for progress in AI. We can’t just solve problems by throwing more compute at them.

I think both positions are interesting, important and well supported by evidence. But if you read both essays, you’ll see that these positions are also not mutually exclusive, in fact they can be synthesised. But to accept this interpretation you need to take your view one level ‘up’, so to speak.

Rich Sutton isn’t arguing for wasteful learning and search, he’s calling on us to improve it. He is saying we’ll never be able to go back to hand-written StarCraft bots.

The meta lesson is that the most important thing to improve with search and learning — is learning itself.


RE: A Better Lesson, by Rodney Brooks

I think a better lesson to be learned is that we have to take into account the total cost of any solution, and that so far they have all required substantial amounts of human ingenuity.


RE: The Bitter Lesson, by Rich Sutton

We want AI agents that can discover like we can, not which contain what we have discovered. Building in our discoveries only makes it harder to see how the discovering process can be done.

Social Media, Personal Information, and Children

Time with a child is finite and priceless. Documenting the good times in journal notes, travel photographs, and family videos is a fine way to relive happy memories in your old age. BUT … Do not put them online! And keep the kid(s) off social media as long as possible.

  • The information shared online today will most likely survive well into the future.
  • Peoples’ digital information footprint will affect future people more than today’s data profiles affect us now.
  • Data sent today is likely to be stored by individuals other than the intended recipients,
    • and used for unintended purposes.

These factors combine perniciously to undermine the future freedom and wellbeing of children by burdening them with an information history which they had no informed consent in crafting and that will be used to target them (to influence their behavior commercially and politically) and profile them (to automate judgement of their suitability for educational and financial opportunities).

If our great grandparents made a poor decision which they couldn’t live down, they could move to a new city, state, or country where they were unknown. Information today – every photo, text, and tweet – inescapably follows people from birth to grave; the only escape from the internet is suicide. Social mores and norms are changing faster than they used to and no one is safe from retroactive social opprobrium even if many people are legally protected from ex post facto laws. What might future people think of your children’s Halloween costumes, and what those photos say about the rest of their upbringing?

With technological progress, the information we create today might not be only what we think it is. For example, someone who took and shared a family photo from a crowded beach in the 1990s probably thought they were only sharing their family, but that photo now also encodes the known location and identity of everyone whose face is visible in the photo because of today’s advanced facial recognition technology. Are your photos today accidentally sharing your children’s iris scan, fingerprints, or something else? What might a mortgage company’s machine-learning “AI” think about how many beach photos you’ve shared, or the quality of the grammar in your emails? What might an automated social credit system think of your children’s childhood friends?

Many people today don’t store and process their data entirely on their own; they use “cloud” services to store and use it for them (because these services are much easier, cheaper, and more convenient). However, no information which touches the internet appears safe from theft. And then of course sometimes data is simply given away, or sold to a new third-party, or shared with an unanticipated “partner” or customer.

It’s one thing to take these [almost unavoidable] risks for ourselves as adults in exchange for important financial services and career networking. It’s something else to divulge a child’s data for mere curiosity and amusement – something entirely unacceptable.


Some links informing my thoughts on this:

We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online |Slate, by Amy Webb

Don’t post your naked child on social media | Reddit

Should you invest in your kid’s digital footprint? | Reuters, by Chris Taylor

How Social Media Is Affecting Your Parenting | Parents, by Mackenzie Dawson

Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids | Psychology Today, by Victoria L. Dunkley

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? | The Atlantic, by Jean M. Twenge

Dear Parents: The Internet Never Forgets / Sharenting: Are Parents Violating Kids’ Internet Privacy? | The Atlantic video, by Taylor Lorenz (YouTube link)


Three challenges for the web, according to its inventor | World Wide Web Foundation, by Sir Tim Berners-Lee
The web is under threat. Join us and fight for it. | World Wide Web Foundation, by Sir Tim Berners-Lee

An Apology for the Internet — From the Architects Who Built It | New York Magazine (NYMag): Intelligencer, by Noah Kulwin

Sean Parker unloads on Facebook | Axios, by Mike Allen
Sean Parker interviewed by Axios’ Mike Allen Wednesday (video)

‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It | The New York Times, by David Streitfeld


The nature of the self in the digital age, by Aral Balkan

Social-Media Outrage Is Collapsing Our Worlds | The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf
The Costs and Benefits of Worlds Colliding | The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf

Why Technology Favors Tyranny | The Atlantic, by Yuval Noah Harari

The Last Free Generation, by Austin G. Walters

How much immigration is too much? | The Atlantic

Source: How much immigration is too much? | The Atlantic, by David Frum

While it would be destabilizing and impractical to remove all the people who have been living peaceably in this country for many years, it does not follow that any nonfelon who sets foot in the U.S. has a right to stay here.

Demagogues don’t rise by talking about irrelevant issues. Demagogues rise by talking about issues that matter to people, and that more conventional leaders appear unwilling or unable to address. Voters get to decide what the country’s problems are. Political elites have to devise solutions to those problems. If difficult issues go unaddressed by responsible leaders, they will be exploited by irresponsible ones.

Hundreds of millions of people will want to become Americans. Only a relatively small number realistically can. Who should choose which ones do? According to what rules? How will those rules be enforced? … How we choose will shape the future that will in its turn shape us.

what happens when it’s not just one person or 1,000 people or even 1 million people who want to move? What happens when it’s tens or hundreds of millions knocking on the doors of the developed world? And what happens when those vast numbers of newcomers arrive, not in mass-production economies whose factories and mills need every pair of hands they can hire, but in modern knowledge economies that struggle to achieve full employment and steady wage growth?

When natives have lots of children of their own, immigrants look like reinforcements. When natives have few children, immigrants look like replacements.

Anti-immigrant feeling usually runs strongest in places that receive relatively few immigrants … Yet nonmetropolitan places are experiencing immigration in their own way. Mobility between countries appears to have the perverse effect of discouraging mobility within countries—in effect, moating off the most dynamic regions of national economies from their own depressed hinterlands.

Neither the fiscal costs nor the economic benefits of immigration are large enough to force a decision one way or the other. Accept the most negative estimate of immigration’s dollar costs, and the United States could still afford a lot of immigration. Believe the most positive reckoning of the dollar benefits that mass immigration provides, and they are not so large that the United States would be crazy to refuse them. For good or ill, immigration’s most important effects are social and cultural, not economic.

Who should be invited to join with the natives of the United States to build, together, a better life for the Americans of today and tomorrow?

asylum seekers are advancing their interests and those of their families as best they can. Americans have the same responsibility to do what is best for Americans.

Even at lower immigration levels, America will continue to move rapidly toward greater ethnic diversity. … The higher birth rates of the immigrants already living in this country have determined what the American future will look like demographically. The challenge for today’s Americans is to allow that new demography to develop in an environment of social equality and cultural cohesion.

The phrase border security seriously distorts our understanding of illegal immigration. By some tallies, more than half of the most recent immigrants in the country illegally arrived legally—typically as a student or tourist—then overstayed their visa. They obeyed the law when they entered. They broke it by failing to leave. They get away with this because the U.S. concentrates its immigration enforcement on the frontier—while slighting the workplace.

Americans also need to rethink asylum policy. If unemployment, poverty, or disorder in your home country qualifies you for asylum, then hundreds of millions of people qualify—even though virtually none of them has been targeted by the kind of state-sponsored persecution that asylum laws were originally written to redress.

“How to help those displaced by conflict?” and “How should we select our future fellow Americans?” need to be seen as different questions requiring different sets of answers.

With immigration pressures bound to increase, it becomes more imperative than ever to restore the high value of national citizenship, not to denigrate or disparage others but because for many of your fellow citizens—perhaps less affluent, educated, and successful than you—the claim “I am a U.S. citizen” is the only claim they have to any resources or protection.

Yes, borders are arbitrary. And, yes, more people are arguing that we should care as much about people in faraway lands as we do about our fellow Americans. But the practical effect of making this argument is to enable the powerful to care as little for their fellow Americans as they do for people in faraway lands.

Without immigration restrictions, there are no national borders. Without national borders, there are no nation-states. Without nation-states, there are no electorates. Without electorates, there is no democracy. If liberals insist that only fascists will enforce borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals refuse to do.

When somebody seeks to join the American national community, that person is asking the United States to honor a multigenerational commitment to him or her and to each of his or her descendants. Americans are entitled to consider carefully whom they will number among themselves. They would be irresponsible not to consider this carefully—because all of these expensive commitments must be built on a deep agreement that all who live inside the borders of the United States count as “ourselves.”